Friend-of-a-friend. Or, How I Found a Great Apartment Without Really Trying

Last April, my friend Mikey and I ventured to Brooklyn for the final Spring Break of our collegiate careers. Admittedly, with its apparent shortage of Señor Frogs, foam parties, and wet t-shirt contests, Brooklyn was an unlikely destination for two vacation-makers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But we had an invitation for an all-inclusive stay on two very nice couches in New York, so we went there.

Our host, a bearded fellow called “Boots”, knew Mikey’s from their days together on the high school crew team. When we arrived at his place, we found Boots living in not a bedroom, but what resembled a transplanted tree fort stuck inside of a converted loft apartment. There was hardly room for a person to stand upright, which was a serious consideration, because Joe stands 6’3, at least.

He mentioned he planned to move into a new place, a basement in Park Slope, very soon.

“There might be another open room,” he added.

This is how I found an amazing apartment without really trying.

“Joe’s thinking about moving out here,” Mikey chimed in. I nodded in confirmation, ostensibly lodging the notion deep into Boots’s brain. It stuck there and festered for four months before I contacted him about the open room.

Boots reported that the room was indeed available for rent starting September 1. If I wanted the room, it was mine. The rent was relatively cheap and well below what most people pay to live in this kid-friendliest nook of Brooklyn. I’d have to bring my own pillows, but the room came with two futon, shelves, several books, one large fan and a dirty incense-burning tray. No better deal existed in the universe, neither on Craigslist nor at the sleazy broker’s office where my friends wasted hours of their lives, divulged personal information, and regularly exposed themselves to frustration, disappointment and grief.

Perhaps I was lucky. Some friends accuse me of always having things fall into my lap. My friends are astute; and while I respect their opinion, I do not apologize for my fortunes. Good things happen to good people, I say.

In truth I didn’t realize how fortunate I actually was until I finally arrived on the East Coast to a chorus of envious New Yorkers. They screeched with jealousy when I told them about the terrace in back, enormous basement below and the price I paid.

“How did you find it?” they asked.

“I knew a guy,” I said.

“A broker?” was the most common follow up question, to which I always responded: “Nope, he delivers food in the Village.”

As I’ve discovered in the short time since I arrived, connections and networking skills make all the difference. How else could a relatively clueless midwesterner like myself find any place—much less a perfect place—without clipping a single listing or viewing any apartments? I kept my ears open and collected information. Then I waited for the right moment, and followed up on that hot tip. It wasn’t just luck, as some suggested. If I were that lucky, there’d be more Señor Frogs in the neighborhood.

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