Tag Archives: NYC Housing

Checking In

I officially have a place to live in Brooklyn. It’s not perfect (mainly because of the location and the fact that it’s not my own place), but it should be good enough for a few months. It could certainly be much worse… There’s plenty of space, it’s clean, it’s air-conditioned, and the living room has a million-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline. I’ll probably fly back to Chicago sometime next month and move the rest of my stuff to NYC. Most of it will go right back into storage at this end, but some of it — including my beloved Eames chair — will get brought into the apartment.

Lately I’ve been licking my chops over the new iMacs and the iPhones… Guess you could say I’ve drunk the Apple kool-aid. Assuming I can stick to my budget, I’m hoping to get a 24″ iMac maybe in late October (hopefully Mac OS X Leopard will be out by then), and maybe an iPhone in mid-September. I had been pining for a MacBook Pro, but I may hold off on a laptop until I’m closer to starting grad school… Most likely in 2009. More about that in a minute.

In the meantime, I just dumped 2 GB of RAM into my Dell fossil… All this time I somehow thought it already had 1 GB of memory, but it turned out to only have 512 MB. No wonder the damn thing seemed so slow… Anyway, it’s much faster now, so hopefully this will suit me until I have a shiny new Mac sitting on my desk.

About grad school: I have a feeling I’ll be sitting out the 2008 round of grad school angst while I save up some more money and sink some roots here in NYC. Now that I’m making decent money at a good firm, I’m not feeling as much of a rush to start my M.Arch. degree as I was in Chicago. Despite all the stress of this summer, life is pretty good right now, and I’d like to enjoy it for a while.

Housing Update

Well, the apartment in Sunset Park didn’t work out (landlord decided to rent it to somebody else) but it’s looking like I’ll have a place to live next month. No money has changed hands yet and nothing has been signed yet, but I have a verbal agreement with a prospective roommate I met a few days ago in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The neighborhood is pretty shitty, but the apartment is actually one of the nicest I’ve seen in the past couple weeks: A condo-quality loft conversion with two bedrooms and a huge living area with an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline. The apartment is only a block away from the nearest subway station (minimizing my exposure to aforementioned shitty neighborhood), and there’s a decent-sized grocery store on the same block as the apartment building. Prospective roomie is a construction manager for a local chain of health clubs, and seems like a decent guy. As a bonus, the bathroom has a huge shower stall with very good water pressure… It’s important to have your priorities straight.

It’s not my first-choice scenario (I was hoping to get my own apartment), but this will be a half-decent place for me to crash for the next six months or so while I save up some money, pay off some debts and repair my credit report, and eventually (hopefully) get myself a much nicer apartment than I’d be able to get right now.

I’ve actually looked at a few pretty nice apartments over the past few days that are within my price range, but most have been located in Bed-Stuy… Supposedly an “up and coming” Brooklyn neighborhood with tons of beautiful brownstone apartments, but the neighborhood still has a long way to go before it even begins to resemble a decent place to live: Most of the apartments I looked at were at least a 20-minute walk to the subway, and I didn’t see a single full-service grocery store or drug store in all my walking around the area. I have a pretty high tolerance for rough neighborhoods, but some parts of Bed-Stuy felt downright unsafe…. East Harlem feels like a country club resort by comparison.

I have to admit, it’s been a fascinating experience exploring just about every nook and corner of New York City over the past couple weeks; most of the places I’ve been to are places I’d never set foot in if I weren’t looking for affordable housing. I’m always amazed at how much variety there is in New York’s neighborhoods… Chicago seems so damn homogeneous and segregated by comparison. Here in NYC, you’ll find a colony of homeless people living on the same block as condos selling for over $3M…. Back in Chicago, the city is rigidly divided along racial and socioeconomic boundaries, and you can easily spend months in the city without crossing those boundaries. Here in NYC, unless you never leave Midtown, you can’t avoid crossing some of those boundaries, sometimes multiple times within a few blocks.

Lazy Sunday

For the first time in weeks, I’ve had a weekend where my only obligation was to sleep in and veg out the whole time. Unfortunately, Saturday morning I somehow pulled a muscle in my neck while in the shower, and I’ve barely been able to move without huge amounts of pain since then. This has happened a few times in the past, and it’s a huge pain whenever it does… And it’s not as if I was doing anything particularly physically strenuous, either. It finally seems to be getting a little better now, though.

Despite that, I did manage to get over to Brooklyn yesterday to look at an apartment for rent… Nothing to brag about, but it seemed like a clean, decent place in a fairly stable working-class neighborhood. It’s a so-called “railroad” apartment in an old brownstone, in which all the rooms are in succession without a hallway. As such, one would have to walk through my bedroom in order to get to the kitchen. Not really a problem, since I’d be the only person living there. At least it’s got some character, with a lot of the original details intact. I put in an application on the spot; I hope to hear back from the landlord on Monday… Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I’m settling into life at my temporary abode here in Harlem. The neighborhood can be a little intimidating to outsiders, but so far it’s been harmless. The apartment itself is small but nice, except for the fact that the central air is controlled by the landlord upstairs. Why this apartment wasn’t given its own thermostat (it’s a new renovation) is beyond me, but what’s worse is the fact that the landlord turns on the A/C only about three times a day if I’m lucky… The rest of the time this place is like an oven, even when it’s 65 outside with the windows open. Who turns on the A/C only three times a day? Why not just set the fucking thermostat at one temperature and leave it there? Arrgh…..


Quick update: A co-worker of mine is leaving the country for three weeks due to a family emergency, so I’ll be subletting her studio apartment in Harlem through the end of the month. It’s not a permanent solution, but it gives me three weeks to find something slightly less transient.

Special thanks to my friend Karl for letting me crash in his kick-ass Chinatown loft for a few nights, and thanks to my friend Alfredo for offering his sofa in Brooklyn.

Evacuation Day

4:00 AM: Wake up, feed the cat, check email for messages about possible housing situations, check craigslist for any new listings.

5:00 AM: Wake up, check email, check craigslist.

6:00 AM: Wake up, check email, check craigslist.

9:00 AM: Wake up, check email, check craigslist, take a shower, check email, check craigslist.

10:00 AM: Leave dorm room, stop at Starbucks to grab some coffee and a bite to eat.

11:00 AM: Pick up Zipcar from garage on 122nd Street.

11:15 AM: Begin moving stuff out of the dorm room and into the car.

12:15 AM: Finish moving out of dorm room, submit check-out form. I’m now officially homeless.

12:35 PM: Arrive at address where I had an appointment to look at a room for rent. No answer when I ring the doorbell.

12:40 – 1:30 PM: Drive around for a bit, with my cat and my belongings in the Zipcar, for about an hour.

1:35 PM: Arrive at next appointment, find a nice parking space across the street from the building.

1:35 – 1:50 PM: Meet with prospective roommate, express interest in renting the room ASAP. Offer cash on the spot. She asks for an hour to think about it. Agree to call her back at 3:00.

1:55 – 2:59 PM: Grab a sandwich and soda from a nearby deli, sit in car with A/C on in order to keep the cat cool and to to not lose the parking spot.

3:00 PM: Call prospective roommate’s phone number. No answer. Leave a message.

3:01 – 3:10 PM: Wait for callback.

3:11 PM: Call friend in Chinatown to arrange to crash at his place for a few nights. Leave parking spot, begin driving downtown.

3:20 PM: Receive callback from prospective roommate. She’s decided to rent the room to somebody else.

3:30 PM: Call Zipcar, let them know I’ll be an hour late returning the car, fully aware that I’ll be incurring massive late fees and causing great inconvenience to the next person who has the car reserved.

3:35 PM: Receive call from Zipcar giving me the option to extend my reservation by one hour with no late fees. Accept offer.

3:45 PM: Arrive at friend’s loft in Chinatown, begin unloading stuff from car up three flights of stairs into his place. Nobody can find the key to the freight elevator.

4:20 PM: Finish unloading car. I have exactly 40 minutes to get the car from Chinatown to the garage on 122nd Street.

4:25 PM: Find previously-unkown shortcut tunnel under Battery Park to West Side Highway, hit the gas.

4:25 – 4:50 PM: Continue driving at a very high rate of speed up the West Side Highway, while glancing at my watch and receiving multiple text messages from Zipcar informing me of dire consequences if I’m late returning the car.

4:55 PM: Exit Henry Hudson Parkway at 125th Street. Look at watch and panic.

4:57 PM: Arrive at garage on 122nd Street, return car to attendant. Look at watch and grin.

5:10 – 6:30 PM: Embark on subway ride back down to Chinatown.

6:40 PM: Exit subway on East Broadway, stop in Pathmark to grab some cat food.

6:45 PM: Arrive back at friend’s loft, open a beer and watch the last two innings of a baseball game, while wondering where the fuck I’ll be living this time next week.

More Panic

Well, I looked at a moderately shitty place in Brooklyn this evening, and told the guy I’d get back to him tonight one way or the other about the room he had for rent, because I still had to check out another place in Harlem.

I went to Harlem and checked out the room, and although it was far from perfect, it was actually halfway decent. I told the girl I was interested in the room and offered to sign a sublease and give her money on the spot. She said she had to decide between me and one other person, but would give me a call with her decision no later than 10:30 tonight.

Meanwhile, there’s a place I looked at in Inwood last Wednesday night that was by far the nicest place so far, and I expressed interest in taking the room. However, the people there are taking forever to make a decision, although I’m apparently their “top candidate” so far. Unfortunately, they’re going out of town this weekend, and still want to meet a couple more people. (They’re a lesbian couple and would prefer to have another female in the apartment, but seemed to like me.)

So I get back from the place in Harlem this evening and wait by the phone… and wait and wait. 10:30 comes and goes. At 10:50 I call, but nobody picks up. I leave a message. Still nothing.

So, at 11:00 I called the guy in Brooklyn to let him know I was interested in taking the room he had for rent. Unfortunately for me, the guy who showed up after I did put down a deposit on the room.

So I called my friend in Chinatown who had earlier offered me a place to crash in his loft and took him up on his gracious offer, as it looks like I’ll be crashing at his place tomorrow night.

Where I go from there is anybody’s guess….


Checking in… Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while.

I have to be out of my dorm room at Columbia by noon tomorrow, and I still haven’t lined up a new place to live… Starting to panic now.

I’m looking at a couple places up in Harlem this evening… Here’s hoping they aren’t too shitty (I’ve seen some incredible rat holes over the past week), although at this point I’m not in a position to be very picky.

In other news, our grades from the Columbia summer studio have been posted… Yours truly is the proud recipient of an “A”.

Checking In… And Moving Again

Sorry for not checking in for a while, but it’s been an “interesting” few months. For those who don’t know, I landed a job shortly after moving here in February, which turned out to be a disaster from day one. I lost that job in May, and was unemployed for a month before landing my current job, working for a small architecture firm in Midtown that does mostly retail and religious work. So far it’s been going well. Throughout all this, I’ve been dealing with a nasty flare-up of clinical depression, and trying to get out of a horrible housing situation in Brooklyn. Despite all that, though, I love being in NYC and I haven’t regretted my decision to move here. (Although I’ll confess to having developed a deep and profound loathing of car alarms, motorcycles, and Mister Softee trucks.)

As some of you know, I’ve been living with roommate here in Brooklyn since February, and this was never meant to be a permanent arrangement. In reality, my roommate and I have gotten along about as well as matches and gasoline (maybe the fact that her loser of a boyfriend and his huge dog have been living here rent-free since the week after I moved in has something to do with it, among other atrocities), so I’ve finally gotten my own one-bedroom apartment almost as far away from my roommate as I can possibly get while still remaining inside the municipal boundaries of New York City: Inwood.

The apartment itself is nothing to brag about, but it’s clean, newly renovated with a brand-new kitchen and bathroom, and faces the back of the building (hence, far less noise than if I were facing the street — another major bane of my current place). The only real negatives to it are 1) It doesn’t get much natural light due to other apartment buildings between my windows and the sun, and 2) I’ll need to avoid thinking about what sort of apartment I could afford in Chicago or Philly for the same rent.

And for those of you who live here in the NYC area or are able to make it here with a short drive: I’ll need some help moving on Saturday, August 28th. The customary pizza and beer will be provided, and I promise my new apartment is not on the top floor of a 6-story walk-up. If you’re able to help, let me know. Even if you can’t do much heavy lifting, I’ll still need somebody to watch the truck while it’s being loaded and unloaded. The more people I have helping, the less work it will be for everybody, and you’ll be safely back home before the RNC riots begin. 🙂

In other news, I’ve been busy with activities at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which has been very rewarding. I often transfer at Columbus Circle on my way to church on Sunday mornings, and there’s been a couple times when I’ve seen all the local railfans and foamers lined up for some fan trip or another. (I waved at David Greenberger once, but he didn’t see me. I also saw him at Smith/9th just a few days ago.) Since I now ride the subway every day, it’s no longer quite the novelty it used to be (although I still find it fascinating). And with STC going down the toilet, I’ve had even less reason to go there. But I wanted to let everybody know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

(Originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)