I am just going to quote Sex and the City, I don’t care: “They say in New York you’re always looking for one of three things: a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment.” I’m looking for the third. And you really have to laugh when you’re looking for a place to live in the city, the expense of which regularly forces well-compensated adults to live like college students well into their thirties and beyond. The question, when apartment hunting, is how many dumps do you have to see before sleeping with your feet on the stove feels like a livable alternative to your kitchen and bathroom being the same room?
Quite a few, probably. I had a fun one this weekend on the Upper West Side: Open house, elevator, doorman, gym, utterly underpriced — it seemed. Four units available. “Get every financial document that’s ever related to your life together so that you can apply on the spot!” the brokers said. After around 20 of us hunters had busted ass to get there early on the weekend, huge file folders of tax return copies, pay stubs, and bank statements in tow, we listened to our brokers blather on about how AMAZING the rooms upstairs would be.
“If you see a corner apartment, jump,” mine told her prospective clients, failing to specify if she meant out the window. “I kept asking the landlord, how are you going to choose who gets it?” she continued. “He said whoever has all their paper work in first.” This stressed me out, because how would I beat everyone to the leasing office when I saw the apartment of my dreams? Do we beat each other down with our brick-sized loads of tax returns and letters of employment on the way there?
“The kitchen is a bit of a challenge,” the broker said. Well that explains it. That’s the catch. Every New York apartment has a catch, be it the stove under the shower head, roaches, no closet, air shaft views, etc. “There might not be an oven, so it might not be ideal if you want to do a lot of baking,” she went on.
You start convincing yourself, as you look for a place, that you don’t need all the things that are perfectly normal to expect out of a living space. A window? Fuck that! You can’t keep a plant alive anyway! An elevator to get to the seventh floor? Who’s butt couldn’t use the extra toning? No water on Fridays? There’s always the shower at the gym!
When were permitted upstairs, it was a fight to get into the elevator. We were first. We went to the first apartment, which was not much bigger than the box my biggest winter boots came in. But it had brand new hardwood floors! Hotel-like finishings! Sunshine! But something was missing. “There’s no sink?” I asked. “It’s not finished, it’s not finished,” the broker reassured. She asked a member of the building staff standing nearby when the sink would be installed. There would be no sink, she said. The large granite countertop with extensive cabinetry and convection oven was it. For your invisible dishes, I imagine, since the apartments had no stove, no fridge, no sink. So: no kitchen. Like, if you bought a book, would you save money by leaving out all the vowels? Would you buy a dozen roses without the petals? Of course not. Books come with vowels. Flowers come with petals. Apartments… come with kitchens!
At least now I know what it means when a broker says, “The kitchen is a challenge.” Guess it beats the same applying to the toilet.