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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apartment hunting in Brooklyn...

Tomorrow is the screening at HBO of the film I helped score. Excited about that but currently overwhelmed with the madness of apartment hunting in New York City. I've scoured Brooklyn, it feels like, with a handful of brokers, some less successful at others at luring me in with the perfect apartment.

Brokers are crazy. You respond to an ad on craigslist for a specific apartment and then they want to show you ten more that they think are perfect for you. A few of them will ask you a few questions to get an idea of your criteria. Others will simply find out whether it's a two or one bedroom that you need and then just run with it. Sometimes dragging you to apartments that are in neighborhoods you haven't had the chance to tell them you don't want to live in. But then you run up against this thing that real estate agents tend to do which is to blur the boundaries of a particular neighborhood in order to rent an apartment faster. All of a sudden Crown Heights is Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant is Clinton Hill, and Sunset Park is South Park Slope, or South Slope. You get the idea. It's tricky.

Then I've had a broker or two flake out on us. We wound up seeing only two places on a night when I had as many as 7 possible apartments scheduled. The first place was nice, but not the right place for it's location and (we keep running into this problem in Brooklyn) the second bedroom was too small. I think a lot of these owners/brokers try to pitch 1 bedroom w/office apartments as convertible 2 bedrooms. Like, "It's a 2 bedroom if one of you doesn't mind sleeping in a closet. Cool?" The second guy we were to meet had like three apartments and he was one of the guys who says, "hey, you want 2 bedroom apartment? I have like ten of those and they're in East New York!" Okay, so he didn't say East New York (which by the way is about as far east of Manhattan as it sounds). He said Clinton Hill which, exists as an option in my book but I always have to be cautious because we don't want to go too far east in Clinton Hill and definitely not too far across Bedford Avenue. It's not that I have a mental block about Bed-Stuy. I really just don't know the neighborhood that well and don't want to risk winding up on a rowdy block, a seedy block or just a block with nothing going on, i.e. no people around to catch the guy trying to mug me.

Anyhow, this guy didn't show anyway. Called earlier and said that he had another place he wanted to show me but couldn't get the key that night so he wanted to reschedule. He was 7:30, so after we finished with the one on Bergen with the too-small second bedroom and the weird stained glass partition between the bigger bedroom and the living area, I called my 8:30 broker and asked to see if she could come early. We didn't think we'd have time to grab a bite between appointments not knowing the neighborhood that well. So, she called back and said that her friend (I'm assuming another broker) could come and meet us in ten minutes.

Now this is the funny part. We went ahead to the address and find out that it's this new condo building that we kept seeing ads for on craigslist. Apparently there are like five brokers trying to push apartments in this place to fill it up. And it's sort of an ugly building, new, yes, and the apartments are nice and they even have a W/D hookup and they're offering to bring a washer dryer unit for an extra $50 a month. But really, even if this place wasn't on the fourth floor it was in a barren stretch of Bergen street and nothing was around there, it was too far from the subway and even if it did have a roof deck, Katrina would probably feel unsafe there. And it was an ugly modern looking green rectangle with funny wavy designs on the front. So, after he showed us that place we went on and had dinner at a bland little Chinese restaurant and discussed. The broker never did show us the rest of the places that she had and when the other guy called me the next day, I told him that we had moved on a place. Even though we hadn't. Because I knew his apartments were all around that same part of the neighborhood which we had just deemed too seedy for our tastes.

Now, my plan is to check out a few places in Brooklyn Heights today with a broker, by myself. The idea is that instead of wasting Katrina's time (having to come all the way down to Brooklyn) for apartments that are smaller than the stuff she's finding in Astoria and more expensive, I can check them out first and weed out the ones in seedy neighborhoods like outer Prospect Heights and/or Crown Heights. And I love Brooklyn Heights for just about every reason.

But these ones in Brooklyn Heights, ($1699 and $1775) I'm not going to get my hopes up about. I will probably find out that they are too small for us or that they are just one bedrooms posing as two bedrooms and that explains the price. Or it could be a miracle and they could be rent stabilized gems, in which case we're going to have to move very fast on them.

Oh how stressful this is. I'll keep you guys up to date on the happenings thereof. I've agreed if my solo search in Brooklyn finds nothing then, after I return from Raleigh week after next, we will dive into Astoria brokers and grab something up there. As much as I don't want to be that far from my Brooklyn haunts, it may be that all we can find in our price range, lack of seediness and size requirements exists only in Astoria. But I am not yet ready to believe. I'm giving Brooklyn another chance.

And tomorrow is the screening of Peeper: A sort of Love Story. Should be great!

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