I learned something very important about myself this week; I’m a complete psycho when it comes to real estate hunting.
Smack dab in the middle of book writing, The Fella and I thought it would be brilliant to start scoping out potential spots for our very first love nest. As soon as I hand the first draft of my book over in five weeks we’re moving in together (he’s moving first, I’ll stay put where I am until I have the brain space to pack). Our first day of hunting made it very, very clear to me that there are boatloads of really nasty apartments in New York City. And then we saw it, the apartment of my dreams. A luxury building right off of Riverside Drive and Riverside Park and only a minute walk to the Hudson River. The Bathroom was newly renovated. There was a full kitchen (you have no idea how hard it is to find a full-sized stove in Manhattan!). Giant living room. Fire place. Absolutely miniscule bedroom, and a view that consisted solely of the exterior brick of the next building. It also happened to be $200 more a month than we planned to spend.
As I danced around the living room and batted my eyelashes at the crown molding, Roy was less convinced.
We each went into this search with one non-negotiable criterion: Mine was that there had to be a real kitchen, his was that it couldn’t be above 90th Street (he works downtown mostly, so the further up we are the longer his commute).
I would not let his nay-saying sway me. I was in love.
The next day we scoped out the far hipper neighborhood of Chelsea. The apartments in our price range there were little more than slums. Upon viewing one such slum Roy announced that he loved it and it was far better than my luxury uptown apartment. I said “I am not giving up my rent-controlled two-bedroom apartment for this piece of crap.”
Then, my aunt sent me a text message about an apartment on the same Chelsea block. A co-worker of hers lived in the building, and the apartment was exactly our price. I called the agency showing it and set up a viewing. They were in the midst of renovating the apartment because the previous tenant had been a hoarder and had left things in pretty rough condition. The agent assured me that the dead roach carcasses on the walls would be scraped off, a new bathroom sink would be installed and a fresh coat of paint would wash away all signs of the previous tenant.
The size was decent, and the commute would be much better for Roy. Considering I work from home I have to give him the commute card. We agreed to put down a deposit of $500 (non-refundable). As soon as we forked over the cash I knew we had made a huge mistake. I basically started crying like a giant toddler. Instead of talking about things with the man I’m going to be living with I did what any one would do…I called my mom.
She said what I knew she would say, “Kimmy, when are you going to learn to listen to your instincts. You need to do what will make you happy.”
This of course made me feel completely justified about crying in the middle of the street.
One apartment made me happy, one apartment made Roy happy. The Chelsea apartment certainly seemed more practical, and that is what I told myself. But then I saw it, a picture of the kitchen, well a picture of a kitchen, a kitchen in the same layout of apartment in the same building (the kitchen in the one we saw was completely gutted so it was hard to visualize). There was absolutely no room for a counter. We would have to set up a counter in the hallway. The kitchen was my non-negotiable thing.
Still, I spent the next 24 hours trying to convince myself that I could learn to like that apartment. Did I mention it was the top floor of a five floor walk-up?
The arguments were:
- Roy would commute less, and could take on more clients and therefore make more money
- My ass would look fantastic from all the stair-climbing
- It was within our budget
- We’d already invested $500 in it
- Chelsea is a really nice, fun neighborhood
- I’d be equidistant from both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods
Still, it didn’t feel like home.
While I was convincing myself about apartment A, Roy was convincing himself about apartment B, with arguments like:
- I’m the one who is home all day so it’s more important that I like the apartment
- We’re grown-ups and deserve a grown-up apartment
- There’s an elevator, which means my family would probably visit more
- The park is right outside for running
- The living room is more conducive to our separate work stations
- I might stop crying
It seemed that no matter what we did, one of us was comprising on our non-negotiable thing.
After a two-hour discussion about what we should do, and the surprising outcome that he said we should take my apartment and I said we should take his, he finally called our real estate agent (who is seriously the sweetest, most amazing person ever…and totally gorgeous) and said we would take the uptown apartment.
She wrote back and said we could get the paperwork started early the next day, but first she had one more apartment to show us, it just came in and it is within our budget with a real kitchen.
So, we woke up early and met her on 88th Street (under 90th and therefore within negotiable parameters) at a beautiful old brown stone. The landlord was there, he lived in the building and was quite proud of the work he’d done to keep it in its true to era furnishings while keeping it functioning. We hit up a second floor apartment that was not brand spanking new and luxury like the uptown one, nor was it covered in roach bodies like the Chelsea one. Instead it was a big ole pre-war big living roomed, built-in fireplace-d apartment with giant windows with old-fashioned wood shutters that fold into the wall. A foyer with built-in oak china cabinets (two of them). A kitchen that is a wee bit dated, but it’s a kitchen a real kitchen, with a giant closet that can be used as a pantry. There’s a long bedroom with lots of storage because there are 12-foot ceilings. The wood on the floor has all sorts of original embellishments.
When the landlord came by to see what we thought, we told him we’d like a new refrigerator and he agreed, we asked if we could make some kitchen renovations and he said he wouldn’t pay for the whole thing, but he would contribute something toward it if we decided to take matters into our own hands. He offered, out of the blue, to replace some of the light fixtures and told us what website to go to pick out fixtures that matched the building’s architecture. And then we got to know each other, he invited us to his apartment, we talked books and travelling, and he told us about how he came to own this building.
Most importantly we are mutually in love with this apartment. It’s not shiny and new like I originally thought I wanted. It’s not in a hip and trendy area like Roy thought he did, but somehow it fits all of our criteria and feels just right.
Now, I need you to cross your fingers, because we haven’t been approved yet. We should find out in the next day or so if we have the apartment or not, but I really, really, really hope we do.
In the meantime I’m plotting where everything will go.