Our guest blogger Elyse is an NYU student who just recently managed to free herself from the college dormitory system. Elyse and her two roommates are now rubbing elbows with the hipsters in the Lower East Side.
“The Hunt Is On”
The first thing I think of when I look back on my apartment hunt is that Alec Baldwin movie, “The Hunt For Red October.” Searching for the perfect three-bedroom apartment may not be exactly the same as trying to find a state-of-the-art super stealth, nuclear submarine, but it might as well be. Especially when you’re doing it in early May—the high season for apartment hunting—while you’re also trying to finish the semester, which includes writing a 12-page research paper. Oh, and one of your two roommates is currently in Cuba.
My word of advice on looking for apartments when one of your roommates isn’t in the city: don’t do it. Either insist that they have to come to help, or get a new roommate. It’s too difficult to find a place everyone likes when they aren’t physically there looking. We also couldn’t put our in-absentia friend on the lease, because she wasn’t there to sign it. If you don’t know and trust your roommate as much as I did, this is VERY dangerous.
Now, we may not have had Alec Baldwin helping us, but we had the next best thing – very helpful, very dedicated, very friendly realtors. Using realtors is a real toss-up. Yes, they are expensive. We paid a $5000 commission to ours, well, our parents did. But we also would not have gotten our apartment without them. We had no idea what you needed (a lot of paperwork: you or your guarantors will need tax forms, an employment verification letter, most recent bank statement, 2 or 3 recent pay stubs, driver’s license copies. And you need all this for EACH applicant) and we were so busy working on our finals and that 12 page research paper that I’m not sure we’d have had the time to look if the realtors weren’t doing all the legwork for us. They also did the negotiating for us. Half a month for free? Yes, please.
Another thing I learned from this experience is that usually you search and search for the perfect place, and then you settle for the nice one you find a month later. So try to be realistic when you first start out. We were looking for a three-bedroom in Manhattan, within walking distance of NYU, with lots of space and a third-floor cap for around $3200 a month. (Hahaha, yeah, right.) We got a fifth-floor walk-up on the Lower East Side about half-an-hour walk from NYU for $3695 a month. But it does have lots of space. So it may not be the Red October, but I’d rather live here than anywhere else.