If you want to take part in a real-life version of The Hunger Games, try apartment hunting in New York City. I recently searched for a new apartment and emerged from the experience so mentally and physically drained that moving again anytime in the foreseeable future is out of the question. I'll be staying, right here. Possibly forever.
If you don’t live in Manhattan, you probably think I’m being melodramatic. How hard can finding an apartment be? I, too, was once so naïve, but they call it a concrete jungle for a reason, guys. You can’t just trust your average real estate website — the pictures are old (or just completely falsified), the rent is advertised lower than is, the street addresses are skewed several blocks towards the more desirable (oh, you thought that unit was on Charles and Bleecker? Well, you can be there in a ten-minute walk!). Yeah, don’t even say the word Craigslist to me unless you want to risk wasting your time/getting scammed/possibly abducted. And then there are the 12 percent broker fees, which just make me die a little inside, so let’s not even go there.
But for those of you brave enough to embark on your own search, be prepared to experience the following emotional stages of finding an apartment in NYC. May the odds be ever in your favor.
I’m going to save money this year. I’ve set my budget low and I’m sticking to it. I don’t need an elevator, or a washing machine, and a one bedroom is just a waste of space, anyway. I just want to be on a cobblestoned street in my favorite neighborhood, after all, they always say — location, location, location!
I don’t need a broker. I’m doing this on my own. I’ve already found the perfect place on Craigslist; it’s under my budget, and on my favorite street. I’m such a pro at this. I'll have this mother signed in no time.
the Rude Awakening
Oh whoa, eight flights of stairs? That's cool, I won't have to go to the gym. So they won’t be replacing the moth-eaten carpet? The listing said stainless steel kitchen. Oh, I see. There’s a stainless mini fridge next to the 1940’s appliances. Ummm....
Whatever. Who needs a place to live anyway.
Admitting you need help
OK, fine. I’ll call a broker tomorrow. I could totally do this on my own, but the system's rigged. It'll just be easier this way.
But first — Parks and Rec!
I’m feeling good. The broker has so many places to show me, of course I’ll have a lease signed by the end of the day.
This first place could work. I mean, the floor is sloped, the walls need paint, the bathroom is kind of disgusting, and that life-size furnace in the living room will be problematic, but those windows! That natural light!
I’d make an offer, but there’s so much else to see. I’ll find something better. I bet there's a better deal out there. Hey, this is just like shopping, right?
Sixth floor walk-up, above budget, above budget, bad location, above budget, rodent problem, cave with no light. The day is over. I have found nothing.
I’ve walked up hundreds of flights of stairs and probably ten miles around the city. I need a big plate of pasta and some wine. And bread, of course. Maybe I'll pop into Sprinkles on the walk home for a cupcake. Or two. Why don’t you throw a frosting shot in there as well? IT”S BEEN AN EMOTIONAL DAY, OKAY?
revisiting the rejects
It’s a new day; I’m rested and fed. Let’s do this. I’ll revisit that first unit, it wasn’t as updated as I’d like, but I can live in it. Maybe apartments are just like guys in their 20s — hidden gems waiting for the right woman. Right?
re-rejecting the rejects
WHOA. Why didn’t I see those exposed electrical outlets yesterday? The shower is filled with grime. It’s just all so dirty. Let me just peek in the closet … okay, this will hold about a quarter of my wardrobe. I'm better than this. Moving on.
upping the budget
I’m just going to up my budget. I was low-balling it, anyway.
fantasizing about what you'll get from upping the budget
Imagine all I can get if I go up $300 more. Stainless steel! Exposed brick! A walk in closet! It’ll be just like Monica’s apartment on Friends.
seeing what you actually get from upping the budget
I’ve upped my budget and the apartments have, if anything, decreased in quality. This defies logic.
finding the one [that doesn't make you want to vomit]
YES. I’ve found one that is habitable. It's clean, it's close to the train, oh, who am I kidding — it's the only thing I can afford that doesn't have bars on the windows or a kitchen the size of a large cupboard. LET'S DO THIS.
the Adrenaline Rush
Quick! Make an offer, throw out bank statements, tax returns, letters of rec, convince them I am completely sane. There’s a bidding war? FINE I’LL COME UP $50 — sign the lease. Breathe.
I upped my budget, got less than the already small amount of space I originally hoped for, and I certainly don't live on a cobblestoned street. But at least now I have a place to store my stuff and hibernate from the snow. I’m never moving again.
Images: Comedy Central, Giphy