Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kissing frogs

My new term for looking for an apartment in New York is "kissing the frogs." As in, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince (aka, an affordable, safe, convenient place to live). Apartment hunting/finding is the only real downside to living in Gotham that I can see, but it looms large for me right now. I've been kissing frogs here since April, and I'm gettin' damn tired of it. I'm starting to feel right beat down.

The biggest dilemma that I must resolve is 1) Do I stay in Manhattan, convenient to work, theatre, Central Park - the cool stuff - and settle for a small, weirdly-spaced apartment in a maybe not-so-nice neighborhood? or 2) Do I strike out for Queens or Brooklyn, get a bigger space in a maybe nice/maybe not-so-nice neighborhood, that's not as convenient to work, theatre, the cool stuff?

I think I'll know the place when I see it. Online, pictures of affordable, interesting apartments look very livable, but then I go see the real thing. Ouch! I've seen places that boast hardwood floors, when, in fact, the floors are linoleum with a parquet wood design! I've seen places with an "open kitchen," where the stove is in one corner of the living room, the sink in another, and the refrigerator in another. Oh, and make sure the place has a "full bath," otherwise you get a sink, toilet, and a little spot to hose yourself down.

And don't get me started on the hours I've waited for brokers and apartment managers after making firm arrangements for a meeting time. Not once, not once, has anyone shown up on time. And several times the person I'm meeting isn't the person with the key, so we have to wait even longer for some little upstart to cross town to let us in to see the dump.

I have seen some OK places (most notably the very first place I saw back in April, but the guy wouldn't rent to me because I didn't have a New York landlord letter - remember?), but nothing hit me as the big "I'm home!" place. I'm not expecting a Karen Walker apartment, or a Will Truman apartment, or a "Friends" apartment, or a Carrie Bradshaw place. (Where are these places???) But there are a few things I'm looking for.

I want a bedroom. And a living room. Two separate places. I want a full bath (meaning bathtub w/shower, etc.). I want a kitchen that is functional for cooking stuff (because I do cook) - it can open up into the living room, but all the major bits need to be in one area. I need big ol' windows. If there's a closet or two and maybe a little office alcove, even better. I need a place that I'm not ashamed to bring my family and friends to. I like a diverse neighborhood, but not one where I'm the only person of my persuasion (the middle-aged white woman kind). I want a place that doesn't require 3 subway changes and a crosstown bus to get to and from work. I want my subway stop to feel safe when I get home after the theatre. All for under $1750.

I know. Impossible. But I must carry on the frog-kissing exercise until I nail a place where I can bring up some of my poor little furniture currently languishing in a couple of storage units in Atlanta. Oh, to sleep in my own bed! Anyway, the search for the "prince" continues.

And if any of you readers lurking out there are from Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens (yes, I know you're there) and know of a candidate for my "prince," I want to hear from you pronto! Please?

More kissing the frogs tomorrow. Wish me luck.

8 comments:

Elsie said...

Good luck, Mary. You'll be a princess in no time, sharing photos of the new place with us!

Clare said...

oh I know how you feel. I spent weeks looking for a place to live in London whilst I did my MSc. All the places we looked at were either extremely horrible, strangely set out (the kitchen on the top floor, the bathroom (if you can call is such) in the basement) or just in really dodgy areas. Eventually we found a "prince", and it promptly fell apart. We ended up in a house in Tottenham, which wasn't ideal by any means, but it was nice to have a home again! I hope you find your dream place soon :)
PS: I love the NY stories - I'm desparate to come out and visit but I'm told by my boyfriend that I should wait until I've actually got some money....

Winston said...

As much as you have written here about the many things you enjoy about being in Manhattan, you should make that your first choice. Why spend half your life commuting to and from work if your home environs do not afford the quality of life entertainment that you seem to cherish...

You're welcome...

Chris said...

There are those that are all facade with not much behind, some look perfectly OK but are deadly dull, some with their facilities in the wrong place, others old and crumbling but think they're the bees knees and what about the upmarket ones - superior looks but no soul.

Second thoughts - are we talking about properties or men?

Chris said...

PS: forgot say - I agree with Winston

Liz said...

Really hope you find somewhere soon, Mary.

Rhea said...

I can understand your dilemma. I think living near everything is the greatest! But on the other hand, knowing NYC, you get so little for your money in Manhattan. My brother lives in a studio on the Upper Easte Side and pays a ridiculous amount of rent for it.

MaryB said...

Still looking. Found one pretty good possibility - don't want to jinx it by telling about it, though.

Rhea, I'm on the UES in a ridiculously priced studio myself. Wish I could stay in the 'hood, but if I want a bedroom of my very own, I have to go elsewhere (but not too far away, I hope).