I spent three days helping my cousin look for an apartment in New York City. It is quite a challenge. There are a few choices in Manhattan:
- Spend more than most people make in a year on rent, as one bedroom apartments, around 500-600 square feet can go for as much as $4800 per month.
- Live in an outer borough, which is not an option in this case.
- Pay a broker an outrageous sum of money for showing you crappy apartments (15% of a year’s rent) or
- Spend a truly ridiculous amount of time and energy looking for a decent, no-fee apartment.
We went with option 4. On Saturday we looked at a minimum of 15 apartments in at least 10 different buildings. We met with leasing agents and scummy brokers. We saw newly renovated 300 square foot walk-ups for $2400 per month. We saw beautiful 1,100 square foot one bedrooms for well over $4,000. We saw $6,200 two bedrooms, when that was all that was available. We saw Stuyvesant Town, which has some wonderful apartments, and due to the affordable price ($2,800 for a one bedroom, give or take a few hundred depending on the specific apartment) they are often taken within minutes of being listed. Yes, minutes. Not hours, days or weeks, but possibly a mere ten minutes after being listed. When I lived in New York, Stuy Town was a vast conglomeration of rent-controlled, actually affordable apartments with a ten year waiting list. I never made it off the wait list. Now, they are no longer rent controlled, and are going immediately.
We also saw a number of “luxury” buildings. I find it offensive that one can spend $3,500 on a one bedroom apartment and still have to pay a separate monthly fee to use the gym in the building.
We will see where my cousin ends up living, but after days of the apartment hunt I can honestly say that I am glad it is not me looking for someplace to live in Manhattan. I will just keep looking for the perfect property in Key West.