Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Moving to NYC

My decision has been made and the deal is done. Yesterday I signed a lease for a studio apartment in New York City. Rent is $1695 and I only had to fork out one extra month of security (two months total) due to my bankruptcy on my credit report. Since it was before the middle of the month my lease starts on May 19th.

The place is somewhat "funky", but works for me. It does not have a kitchen sink (only in New York!), but it does have a door onto the rooftop terrace, so it is probably a net good deal for me. It also has plenty of natural lighting, with a window and door (to the roof) on one wall and another window on the opposite wall, so I can get a cross-flow of air as an alternative to using the air conditioning as much as I might need to for a "normal" city apartment. The building is mostly surrounded by taller buildings, so it gets decent shade for much of the day. And since it is facing the interior, street noise is somewhat muted. The floor is linoleum tile, which is fine with me. A lot of NYC apartments have hardwood floors.

It is on the 10th floor of an older building. It does have an elevator, but also has a really nice wide stairway and I like to walk a lot anyway. When I had my apartment in Tudor City I used to walk up eleven floors all of the time.

The manager has a full-time office in the building, which assures better service for issues that might arise. I dealt directly with the manager (with my broker), who makes all of the management and operating decisions, which is much better than a lot of situations, especially for the typical "walk-up" apartment building you find in the city.

I went through a broker, Century 21, so I had to pay a fee of 15% of the annual rent (typical in Manhattan). Ouch. Yeah, that is a lot of money, but it gave me access to an apartment that I might not otherwise have been able to find on my own or as quickly. Total time from initial meeting with the broker to walking away with a signed lease was just under seven hours. I did look at a couple other apartments and a lot of other listings, but I was able to focus my priorities and the initial listing was a great match to begin with. I did find this listing on Craigslist.

I think I was lucky to get this apartment. People were calling while I was sitting in the manager's office filing my application and still calling when I was signing the lease and the manager had the card for someone ready to file an application if I backed out. Finding an apartment in a doorman building in midtown east in Manhattan with a terrace for less than $1700 is quite a good deal.

Electricity is the only utility that I have to pay. The apartment has an electric range, but I don't cook. It has steam heat. It does have an air conditioning unit left by the last tenant which is in so-so condition, so the good news is that the apartment is wired and set up for A/C, but I may have to buy a new window A/C unit depending on what shape the old unit is in, especially in the middle of the summer.

Now I need to decide what to do about telephone and broadband Internet access. Since I need broadband for my work, I may go with cable-based phone service from either Time-Warner or RCN. I do not watch TV, so I do not need normal "cable" access, but the package price may still be a decent deal, especially since traditional phone service is so pricey these days.

I flew to NYC on a one-way ticket. I still haven't decided when to fly back to Bellevue, WA. I need to make some arrangements for window shades and whatever else I may need to do to make the apartment ready for occupancy. One of my priorities for an apartment was to get a "doorman building" so that a lot of services can be arranged even though I am not at the building.

The location is quite decent (for me), in midtown east, on 50th Street just east of Lexington Avenue. That is a block away from Ess-a-Bagel, the best bagel shop in the world.

The really good news is that the most anxiety-provoking part of the move is done. Sure, plenty of the remaining tasks will be annoying and distracting, but manageable and with minimal uncertainty.

-- Jack Krupansky

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