Expat’ life #2 | Looking (desperately) for an apartment

IMG_20150424_133704-2A few days after we arrived in the US we send an email to our broker, who’s name was not Chris, but Alex. (Even if I called him “Chris” for three months before I realized it was not his name. My bad, I guess?)

The apartment in which we were living in Jersey was booked for a month, so we had 30 days to find another place to live. Alex, who wasn’t worried about our case at all, told us to get a social security number before we could schedule any visit (when you know that it takes something like 15 days to get one, I am still asking myself how we would have done it without already having one!) When we told him we already got one, he seemed a little bit under pressure but planned the visits for the week after. “We got plenty of time” he said.

The first day of visits was planned “early in the morning” so we could see a lot of places the same day. “Meet me at 11.15 am” he told us. As you can see, he is an early bird indeed!

Before telling you about the visits, let me explain to you something about real estate in New York: you pay everything. Which means whatever rat hole place it is, the price can increase crazily because there is a view (if I stretch out of the window, 3 blocks away, I actually can see a parking lot! Yay!), because there is a doorman (or a really unfriendly guy BUT wearing a nice uniform), because there is washer/dryer in the building (and sometimes, rats.) (It’s a well-known fact: if the laundry room is dirty, run away from the building), etcaetera, etcaetera. Of course, the nearer the subway station is, the more expensive the rent will be. Just so you know, a studio in Manhattan rents between $1500 and $5000 per month. Of course, the most expensive will have a fitness, a pool, a doorman, a lobby fully equipped for pole for dancing and will be situated on one of the highest floor of a new “luxury building” on Madison or Park. But still, it is a studio!fleurs_15Anyway. We started the visits at 11.30am. As we entered the first building by the under-the-ground front door, I felt the Cher-et-Tendre a little bit tense and, as we took the tiny elevator, we were both feeling zen! The corridor, which was covered in a nice bright green colour was clearly shrinking as we were moving toward the door. The first impression in it was ok, though, then we entered the “bedroom”. Despite our astonished faces, the landlord was pretty proud saying that “[he was] pretty confident that we can fit a full bed in it”. “And what if we can’t??” I asked politely (never been tactful). He did not answer… That day, we saw 10 apartments.

“We still have time, but you’ll need to really think about what you don’t want and what you can accept, because the end of the month will come soon, and the more we wait, the more difficult it will be” Alex said that night (!)

The Day after, we saw 4 more apartments. The Cher-et-Tendre fell in love for the 14th so we prepared the application, which needed to be ready first thing in the morning on Monday. (Alex woke up at 7am that day just so we could be the first to apply for the place. For someone who thinks that 11am is “early”, I appreciated the effort!) We talked about it the whole weekend and got an answer at 10 am on Monday: the landlord made a mistake when writing down the price of the apartment. The place was $175 more than expected (between you and me, I can’t understand how they “mistyped” $175 but I was not there….), and they also wanted 6 months deposit and we had to move the next day…. We drop the thing.
“Don’t worry guys, we are April 15th, we got plenty of time to find a place, a lot of apartment are coming on the market in the second part of the month (!!!) he told us!

And like that, we went for our third round of visits: the 15th place we visited was kind of lost somewhere on the UES, and even it took us 15 (counted) minutes from the subway station to reach the place, the lady from the agency told us it took her “just 15 minutes from West Village”. Either she knows how to fly, or she thought we were dumb newbies. Pick the one you prefer.

The super came with us to visit the 17th place. He explained that the guy was still living here, knocked at the door and then disappeared in the apartment, just giving me the chance to see an incredible mess inside. Apart from the smell (which taught us that the couple living there had not opened the window for the past 6 months), the dirtiness in the kitchen as well as in the bathroom was incredible. As we leaved the place, my foot had stuck on the floor for at least 10 blocks!
At this time, Alex, who started to lose his patience, told us that “[we] would like to consider making some concessions, as the time was flying and the choice was getting smaller and smaller” (!!!)

At the end of the day, a little bit desperate, I panicked a little bit and said “we are never going to find a place to live, we will end up either sleeping on the streets or spending all our money in hotels, and then we will have to head back to Switzerland” (Did I already tell you that I am kind of a drama-queen?)

Two days later, Alex called to show us a nice place, which gather almost every little wish we had. He had some troubles picking the keys from the landlord but “it was totally worth it” because he knows that “[I am] going to love the place”. We wait for him on the stairs of a typical pre-war New York building, under a nice little tree. I am hopping up down with impatience, first of all because the place looks 100% like I wish my building would have, and a little bit because Alex is late 😉 The apartment got a brick wall, a decorative fireplace, a tiny but separated kitchen with microwave and dishwasher. From the windows we saw a little garden and the Chrysler building. The rent was less than we planned to spend, with the Cher-et-Tendre’s office just 15 minutes away, in a calm neighbourhood but filled with a lot of bars and restaurants. I am almost fainting (from happiness) while visiting: everything in that place is perfect and we want it! The application is ready, we fill the forms and go straight to the landlord’s office. Two hours later, we signed the lease.

The apartment is ours. We live in Manhattan!fleurs_7

10 Responses

  1. Alalala… Cet article me rappelle des souvenirs, des semaines d’AirBnB avant de trouver “la perle” à 2500 balles… Autant dire un joli petit studio 🙂 ! C’est le jeu… Ton appart a l’air sympa en tout cas, j’adore la cheminée et les briques 🙂

    1. Ahhh l’immobilier!!! Tu avais trouvé par toi-même? Dans quel quartier? Tu y es toujours? L’appart est top, on est très contents, c’est au moins ça! 🙂

  2. Il a l’air mignon votre petit cocon. En tout cas c’est très excitant de suivre ton aventure, j’ai l’impression d’y être ! En plus il est possible qu’un jour je sois dans la même situation car mon copain est italien et américain et il aimerait peut-être bien partir aux USA dans quelques années…

    1. Merci pour le compliment 😉 C’est une jolie perspective ça, j’espère que ça pourra se faire, car même si ce n’est pas la fête tous les jours, c’est quand même une expérience unique!

  3. J’ai angoissé et trépigné avec toi ! Et juste les deux photos et ta description et ton appart me fait rêver !
    C’est un rêve que de tenter l’expérience de vivre à New York, mais l’anglais et Mr. ça fait 1000, moi je bosse dans la fonction publique à Paris… je ne saurai ce qu’on pourrait faire pour y vivre ! C’est un acte manqué, même s’il ne faut dire “jamais”, je n’y crois pas trop 🙂

    1. Reviens samedi, tu verras la face sombre de l’appartement au demeurant parfait 😉 Comme tu dis, il ne faut jamais dire jamais, et puis une langue ça s’apprend, ça se perfectionne, rien n’est impossible!! 😉

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