NYC Craigslist Apartment Rental Ads, Decoded

Everyone knows that the world of Craigslist listings is an alternate reality, a strange territory where up is down, "gently used" means "broken," writing a post about how you saw someone attractive on the subway is the best way to find love, and a mint-condition 1996 Yamaha PSR-78 keyboard is for sale for $120 SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY. It is a place of high hopes and broken dreams, a land of thwarted ambition and amazing invention, a realm where every "no broker's fee GREAT DEAL" apartment totally ends up having a broker's fee and is also a horrible deal. It's basically the crazy, confusing world from the movie Labyrinth, only instead of being filled with enchanted gremlins and David Bowie, it's filled with people trying to unload extra String Cheese Incident tickets and slightly irregular humidifiers. And like any alternate world worth its salt, Craigslist has its own native tongue — a language that must be mastered by anyone ambitious or foolhardy enough to attempt to seize the List's treasures. Study it carefully, and you may end up with an amazing deal on an antique writing desk and armoire set that someone was just going to throw out; fail to absorb the language and its meanings, and you're spending the next year living in a closet with a futon in it, my friend.

To that end, we present the definitive guide to Craiglist roommate listings, and what they actually mean. We can't guarantee that memorizing this glossary will prevent you from ending up living in a utility closet that was billed as a "spacious fixer-upper"; but if you do, you'll at least have seen it coming.


Chill: Unemployed.

Cozy: Small.

Charming: Small.

3BR: Two bedrooms and one large-ish closet (guess which one you're going to be living in? Come on, guess!). (OK, we were lying, the closet isn't actually that large-ish.)

Antique fixtures: Everything is shitty and old and broken...

Recently renovated: ...except for the stuff that was shoddily thrown together at the last second by a greedy landlord looking to cash in on this suddenly-hot neighborhood.

Needs some TLC: Our last roommate put his fist through the drywall in this room; we put a Forgetting Sarah Marshall poster over the hole, but you can still kind of see it.

Open floor plan: A wall fell down, and eventually, we just all got used to it.

Very convenient: Not convenient.

Near all trains: It is equally far from all of the trains.

Highly desirable: Surprisingly expensive, considering how far everything is from the train.

Up-and-coming: Downwind of the sewage treatment plant, upwind of some people who look like they're addicted to meth and seem like they're walking our way with a definite sense of purpose in their step, we should probably head indoors.

Responsible: I once owned a cat (my girlfriend took it when we broke up, but I think the lessons stuck).

Fun: Almost always drunk.

Creative professionals: We're trying to do as many internships and hit up as many art world open bars as we can before our parents cut us off and demand that we apply to law school.

Drama-free: At least once every fiscal quarter, I will wake you up in the middle of the night and drunk-cry onto your bed spread about how my family thwarted my dreams of becoming an actor, then act extremely cold to you for the next three days.

Lively environment: You will occasionally come home to an apartment full of people high on mushrooms.

Utilities not included: Utilities not included. Also, if you want your room to have a door, you have to bring your own.

FortClintonStuy: We made up a new name for our neighborhood, which is a combination of all the cooler neighborhoods next to our neighborhood.

Act fast: Despite all of this, people will be ready to fight each other in the street and drink each other's blood to live in this butthole of an apartment. Real estate is pretty depressing, huh? Now that I'm really thinking about it, maybe we should all just move back home.

Images: Wikimedia (3)