Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Astoria Without Settling

The search has ended and boy what a search it was. There were days that I couldn't, or wouldn't, face it and there were days where I spent the entire day searching for it. The "it" is a new apartment. I've been searching for a better place to live for a better quality of life. City life can be hard. It can also be great. I do love living in NYC, however, trying to find a quieter place to exist in this crazy city full of life, noise, lights, and energy is difficult.

I moved six months ago. All of you readers know that. You also know that I haven't been very happy in the location. I made a choice to move into a studio on the East Side of Manhattan. A very small studio. Not as small as some studios, but small considering I was moving from a two-bedroom apartment where one of those bedrooms was mine along with a living room, kitchen and bathroom.

I started searching Craigslist.com on February 1, 2010. I was looking for a quiet, one-bedroom apartment in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, NY. While half-ass searching for a new place of my own I was also trying to find someone to take over the lease of my East Side studio.

I got many requests from people who were interested in my studio. I only had to show it to two people. The second one bit. Her boyfriend lived across the street, she was very familiar with the neighborhood, and thought the space would be perfect for her. So, I waited patiently while she got all the paperwork together and faxed it to the leasing office. It took a couple of days. She was on top of all of her necessary paperwork; the hold up was her landlord. She just needed him to fax a letter proving she was a good tenant. Finally, he sent the info and she signed the lease.

I did my best to contact every person I had spoken with via email regarding the apartment to let them know that someone had taken it. It felt like it was the right thing to do. After all, they took the time to respond to my ad.

I had 18 days until the end of the month to find a new place for myself. I thought the hardest part would be to find someone to take over my studio. Turned out that finding the perfect place for me was the hardest part. I wanted something very specific. I wanted a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria for $1100. I was willing to go up to $1150, but I wanted what I wanted. I didn't want to settle.

So the search began. I found out that there was a one-bedroom apartment in a private home, right across the street from my friend Michael, coming available mid-February. I couldn't wait to see it. One-bedroom, private family home, $1050, across from friends. I have a tendency to put all of my eggs in one basket. I was trying to not do that with this apartment search. Turns out the apartment was shit. It needed lots of work. It had tons of space and the price was fantastic, but it had paneling, dropped ceilings, and carpet. It needed so much work. Work that I would have to do (along with Michael) instead of the owner. That's why the rent was going to stay so low.

Following this viewing there were others. There were studios in buildings. One-bedroom's in buildings. Rents from $1100-$1200. Things that I didn't like, but was willing to take as the days ticked away in February and March approached like a tornado across the plains of Kansas.

Michael viewed a studio, something I did not want, just to see if it was doable. He viewed a one-bedroom studio with me that was not doable. Don't even get me started on the confusion of studios in Manhattan and Queens. Studios in Manhattan mostly consist of one room. In Queens, studios can have a bedroom. A studio in Queens with a separate bedroom would be called a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Enough with the studios, I wanted a one-bedroom and I was teetering on the "settle" fence by even looking at studios. I guess I just wanted to give everything a chance. Then came the one-bedroom in a private home for $1100 just around the corner from Michael. I had just gotten to work when I got a call from him. He found it on Craigslist.com, called me about it, and said he was going to go see it. He called from the apartment and said, "I have found your apartment." He loved it. He told the owner that he knew I would like it so much that he was willing to put down a deposit on it right then for me. He took pictures to show me when he returned to work. He called again to say there was a little bit of bad news. It seemed a policeman had seen the apartment earlier in the day and had called to say that he wanted it before I could even see it. Michael told the owner that I could write him a check later that night if he wanted. He kept telling Michael that he would have to get back to him. After looking at another loser of an apartment, I called the man myself. He then told me that he would have to call me back the next morning.

When I hadn't heard from him by his said time, I called him myself. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to see the space for myself and see if it was indeed as lovely as all the pictures showed. Three hours later and another message to the owner he finally called me back. He told me that he had chosen to rent the apartment to the policeman. He said he would keep me in mind if something with that tenant fell through. For me, I took the answer without defeat. In fact, I felt better just knowing the answer at all. I had been worried about it for more than 12 hours.

Walking home from viewing the studio apartments, Michael walked on a different street than normal and wouldn't you know there was an "apartment for rent" sign in front of a home. Michael called the number and set up an appointment for me for the next morning. That meeting seemed like fate. A never taken street led to an appointment to see a one-bedroom apartment for $1100 in a private home. The broker showed me two other apartments, but I was smitten with the first. There was just one problem. There was a train track just beyond the boundary of the back yard. I saw it and I asked about it. However, I found myself signing a lease. I gave a security deposit and signed a lease. I was walking through life in zombie mode for the rest of the evening. My boss said I had to admit the situation was funny. I wanted out of my current apartment due to noise and I had just signed a lease on an apartment with a train in the back yard. I was sick at the thought of what I'd done. How could I have been so foolish? I couldn't sing at karaoke that night. I didn't bowl worth a damn. I had to take a sleeping pill just to shut my mind down. I was up the next morning by 8:30am leaving a message for the broker. I was freaking out about the train. I started looking for apartment on Craigslist.com. I had my first appointment in Astoria that day at 11am. I followed that with a noon appointment that had me viewing six apartments. All were either too far away from the subway or not worth my time. On a side note, the noon broker smelled of marijuana. My trust in him didn't make it into the car with me. I then met my friend Dakotah for lunch. While eating lunch I got a phone call from my broker Grace. She said she had something available for viewing the next day. A true one bedroom in Astoria. She talked the owners down to $1200 rent for me. After lunch, I met with the "train track" broker and told him I couldn't do it. He gave me the check back; I ripped it up, and dissolved our agreement.

Grace and I spoke on Saturday and she said that I could view the apartment that evening after work. It was a very fast viewing of a beautiful apartment. I contemplated the $1200 monthly price tag and all the space it would get me. I called Grace later that night and took the apartment.

It was the only apartment I viewed by myself and actually made the decision on all by myself. Being a grown up is hard. Making the decision was hard.

Relief is amazing!