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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. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day...

I must admit, it's making less and less sense to work on the laptop in my "office" at work…especially since now, it's doubling as a storage room while they renovate some offices upstairs here.  I do have a nice arm chair to sit in but I'm surrounded by stacks of boxes, extra chairs and furniture and, the latest addition, a huge divider that's half blocking the door.  It's still secluded though and I'm able to work relatively distraction free.

So, here I sit blogging.  I went to see my first apartment today.  Katrina has already been to see one but this is the first we were able to see together.  And only because of the fact that I can never sleep much farther past 12 noon after the overnight shift these days.  I figured I had just enough time before going to yoga to check out the apartment with her.  She was off today for Columbus day so it was ideal.  Every other day this week we are unable to go searching together.  And I've already had one broker that I spoke with tonight tell me they'd rather have us both there…i.e. they want us to be able to make a decision that day, so we don't waste their time.  But I've found that you almost never take any of the first apartments you see.  It's like you have to build up a few impressions, see what all is out there, and knock down your unrealistic expectations a bit before you can settle on something.

So, the apartment today was in Prospect/Crown Heights (it's always these muddled neighborhood borders with brokers…they could just call it Crown Heights but they want the allure of Prospect Heights which is a better neighborhood).

When we arrived on the block it was busy and there were a lot of people out and about while we waited for the broker.  What made me nervous was the general behavior of just hanging around and looking tough.  I didn't want to judge based solely on that though.  This was after all an apartment that was right on the corner of an avenue with a lot of store fronts.  Now, I actually thought this was a great place for the price and it even had an elevator (something that might make it a little cheaper to move the piano in).   It had huge rooms and lots of light as it was on the corner of the building but in the back.  The bathroom smelled strongly of pot (interesting, he thought) and there were electric baseboard heaters which I don't tend to like too much as they inevitably take up wall space and can be a bit dangerous.

I was starting to warm to the place though but something happened while we were there that made me change my mind a little (and this is a classic New York City story here).   While we were upstairs and the broker was raving about the apartment and the neighborhood, sort of tap dancing around a little (making a real effort to convince us that the neighborhood was up and coming etc. etc. blah blah blah), I started to hear screaming coming from the street downstairs.  Now from my vantage point out the kitchen window, all I can see is a little sliver of the street through the alley but what it looked like was a tussle of some sort going down in the street with no less than two women screaming and several men appearing to be kicking someone who was down.  I seemed to be the only one among the three of us who noticed, and knowing how hard the broker was working, I opted not to bring it up so as to keep from making her have to tap dance harder about the merits of our current location.  Luckily, by the time we reentered the street everything was cleared up.  God only knows what happened.  "I don't want to alarm you, Katrina," I said, "but there was sort of a fight going on out in the street while we were up there talking to her."

We still did opt to walk a bit in the neighborhood to see how it looked.  Granted, it's two in the afternoon at this point, but still the scene on the street was a little tense.

Only in New York…and hopefully only on that particular street corner in Crown Heights.  I've got a handful of apartments to look at that are close to that place (we're talking mile radius here) but across Atlantic Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, a notoriously bad neighborhood that has been rumored, as well, to be on its way towards gentrification.  We'll just have to see about that and get out on the ground out there.

Tonight, before leaving for work, I called a handful of these ads and, to my mild frustration, I find that at least one of them was a Rapid Realty broker, a company I don't want to work with if I don't have to. The unprofessionalism among their office staff was a source of stress last time we moved.  In addition, they seem to be very strategized and focused more on getting you into an apartment quick than helping you find the right place.  I almost never get the feeling that they want to help me find a place any worse than they want to make sure they don't waste time taking me to a bunch of places that I could potentially not like.  They were the ones who had a problem with it being just me who would come out with them, saying they like to have both roommates present.  I understand this but it's still annoying. Basically, they don't want you to lose the apartment because you have to go home and confer with someone else.  That's how good apartments get snatched up.  Anyway, at this point, we're kind of just doing research and that should be allowed.  These brokers guard their listings so jealously, it's impossible to see a place without a broker pressuring you because most of the ads you see, even on craigslist and padmapper.com end up being broker listings.

I've rambled and ranted enough for one evening.  Tomorrow, I voice audio books and then continue on the hunt.  Wish us luck as we're trying to get into a place as soon as possible and not necessarily wait until the end of the month.

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