The apartment that got away

I know I said I was staying put, but then the rent went up and I started looking around.

The pickings were slim, as always given that it’s NYC, but I kept looking. It seemed like a good opportunity to press RESET, perhaps lower my rent and maybe even go back to Manhattan. As I’ve said, I love Williamsburg, but the L train occasionally challenges my sanity. It would also be nice to have more friends closer to home.

I saw a few “one bedrooms” that were actually studios with a funny wall built to awkwardly break up the space. Like this.

Via Bond

That seems to be the trick of the moment. Years ago, before NYC realtors used the internet much for posting their listings, tricks included not telling you the apartment location and making you meet them on a nearby corner (so you wouldn’t try to see the apartment independently and avoid their broker’s fee).

Then I saw one apartment that was a possibility.

The apartment had pros and cons.

  • The apartment was in a doorman building. It was older but nice and in the process of being gut-renovated. So was the apartment in question.
  • Sunny
  • It was big for a studio – approximately 600 sq feet
  • There were beautiful hardwood floors
  • Miraculously, the apartment had three big closets, two of them walk-ins.
  • Doorman building. Older but nice and being renovated.
  • I didn’t think I’d like the neighborhood, but this particular Murray Hill block was charming.
  • The rent, $2295, was several hundred dollars less than my current apartment and rent stabilized. The same apartment on the 3rd floor was available for $2700 (non stabilized obviously).
  • Good access to transportation, however I could walk to work in 10-15 minutes which would save me ~$100 per month on a MetroCard.


  • Although the square footage was good, the apartment was a studio, not a one bedroom. Could I live in one room? I last did that in 1997!
  • The kitchen in the already-completed third floor apartment was tiny with no counter space and no dishwasher. The broker and I wondered if leaving the kitchen open was part of the owner’s plan and if so, the kitchen would be much better. We could not get an answer from the bureaucratic management company–not atypical for New York. If I wanted the apartment, I’d have to apply without the answer.

Apartment collage

  • The apartment featured steam heat (a radiator underneath that box by the window) and no air conditioning. I’d have to buy a window unit, which could be OK, but the idea of not being completely in control of the heat worried me. In my current apartment, I never put the heat on.
  • The building had a common laundry room in the basement and while we checked it out, the broker and I saw a not-shy mouse. I tried to put that out of my mind, citing the apartment’s high floor and that pests are a fact of life in NYC. But in my lovely, modern Brooklyn apartment, the only pests are the mosquitoes that periodically fly in my open window and the neighbor who likes bass-heavy music.
  • It was a broker fee apartment. To secure the apartment, I’d have to put down first month’s rent, one month security plus the fee of 15% of the annual rent ($8721). Some buildings require first, last and security. With the broker’s fee, that would be more than $11,000 to rent a one room apartment.

Somewhat reluctantly, I did put in an application on the apartment but took my time in doing so–about three days which is ages for an apartment search in NYC. As a result, someone beat me to it.

I was relieved.

Long story, not short, I am not moving right now. But I am always looking.


If you have a crazy real estate story, I’d love to hear it. I’m into that sort of thing obviously.

8 thoughts on “The apartment that got away

  1. Daruma Eye

    I was just going to ask if you’d seen “The Worst Room”. Can I just tell you–I realized that I’ve been in NYC far too long when I looked at some of those photos and thought, “Well now, that’s not so bad. A little paint and a trip to The Container Store and it might be kind cute!” It’s sad, really.

  2. joeyfullystated

    I know it’s a magnificent city (I look forward to returning as an ADULT!) and I know salaries are inflated to reflect the cost of living, but I could never live there, based on my Midwestern sensibilities. That apartment, in the nicest, mouse-free building in Indianapolis MIGHT cost you 700-900 a month, but it would have counter space, a dishwasher and a lovely balcony or patio, as well as secured parking. I will spare you the cost of my 1500 sq ft bungalow, 3 bed, 1.5 bath on 1.3 acres in the city, and I’ll let you imagine what my husband earns, but let’s just say I pay less in taxes per year than what that apartment lets for. It actually gives me palpitations thinking anyone puts down 11k on renting an apartment, and that’s how I know I’m not meant to be a New Yorker.
    This is the smallest, least expensive home we’ve ever owned and I love her even more when I read things like this! lol


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