Pounding the New York Pavement: Day 1

First appointment of the day is with a broker who has told me that the likelihood of finding an apartment (in my price range and in my preferred neighborhoods) and for which I can sign a lease right away is low. Déjà vu. But he says he will do his best. I thank him.

He is an hour late because he has been doing a showing in Brooklyn and getting from there to Jackson Heights in Queens is apparently a nightmare. When we meet, he tells me that two of the three places he had planned to show are now off the market, which leaves one studio. That’s not really what I want, but perhaps it will be an amazing studio. Well, getting into the building takes a while because he has the apartment key but not one to the building. We wait till another couple is getting in and sidle in after them and into the tiny elevator. The studio is being renovated. I try to imagine what it will look like when it has kitchen appliances. Imagination fails. I say thanks and leave, reminding myself that this is just the beginning.

I take the train to Sunnyside and find the realtor’s office with the Greek name. They are friendly but tell me that the only one bedroom they had in my price range was rented out yesterday. They take my information and promise to contact me if something comes up. Can they do leases by mail if I’m not here? Of course! They do that all the time. Hmm.

I stop for tea at a coffee shop. Another realtor returns my call. Do I want to see her knowing most of her apartments have the same conditions as broker 1? I have nothing else lined up so I walk to her office on the south side of the tracks. She is very personable but even if I want to pay several hundred more and run out to do the laundry, the lease signing issue haunts us.

I wander into a Dunkin’ Donuts and drink an iced coffee so I can use their wi-fi to look at more apartments. I email some people. Someone I called earlier about a listing calls me back. She is chirpy and effusive. She sees no problem with my time constraints and says we can do a lease right away if I like the place she will show me tomorrow. She would like me to bring a ream of documents as well. The cell phone connection is bad or our accents are slightly too different. I think she says I can pay the first month’s rent and security deposit (another month’s rent) and her fee (another month’s rent) in cash. Or that we can take my check for that amount to a check cashing place nearby….

I ask a friend back home to help find and email some of the documents she wants but the conversation has wigged me out. I try to find reviews on this broker and come up with little except a bio she has written that states that she has a Doctorate. I am not sure what to do with this tidbit, especially when one of her emails asks me to bring a copy of my new “later of hire.” Both the teacher and the renter in me is a bit worried.

The broker from the south side of Sunnyside calls again. It is after six in the evening. A couple of new apartments have opened up and do not have as strenuous a process for lease-signing. I walk back to her office so we can go check them out. The first is a second floor-walk up (i.e., on the second floor in a non-elevator building, i.e., (in British English), first floor in a non-lift building). There are two handymen working and a little girl–presumably one worker’s daughter; the place is being renovated but most of the bathroom fixtures are in. The rooms are small and claustrophobic but it’s under $1400.

We walk to the building next door. It’s a first (i.e., ground) floor apartment–a two bedroom with a combined living room and kitchen for over $1500 (a lot over).
It has new wood floors and nice appliances.

The second “bedroom” is more of a large closet but it has potential. Like, it could be an attractive closet. Neither of these places has a live-in super (i.e., maintenance guy) or washer/dryers.

The neighborhood is slightly run down but close to my job, to public transit, and to lots of grocery stores, laundromats, and places like

Compared to what I’ve seen and heard earlier, this seems miraculous. But I remind myself that it’s more than I wanted to pay and less than I hoped to get. Maybe that should be the title of my memoir…

On the way back to my host’s apartment, a massive thunderstorm appears over Manhattan and chases our train to Queens.

I hurry away from the station but it drenches me in the last three blocks. Seems like the logical end to this day.

But then I go online and find that I can have any type of food delivered for free to the apartment. In a half hour, I am eating warm samosas and tangy chaat. So the day is not a complete wash after all.

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