Friday, May 6, 2011

House-hunting in Brooklyn

Now, if you know me in rl, as my mmo player buddies used to say in reference to someone they knew in real life, you have probably already heard something of my house-hunting woes through facebook or some other online outlet. If you're my mom, you've heard every tear-inducing incident over the phone. (Thanks, Mom.)

But, this is a blog about what it's like to be a mom in the NYC area, and moving is a very big part of that! Especially when you move as much as we do. Since we were married in 2007, we have lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Denver for one month, a two-bedroom apartment in Nashville for 12 months (with a summer stay in a one-bedroom apartment in Berlin in the middle of that lease), a two-bedroom duplex in Nashville for 14 months (with a two-month stay in a one-bedroom apartment in Buenos Aires, immediately followed by a two-month stay in a different shared three-bedroom apartment also in Buenos Aires in the middle of that lease), and now a two-bedroom apartment in Hoboken, NJ for the last 8 months. Oh wow, let's all just take a deep breath...and re-read that because it looks like craziness...

Since we are dangerously close to breaking our record for longest stay in a single place, we're really itching to move again. Just kidding, that's not it. The real issue is that it still takes Chad 45 minutes to get to work, even when he takes the expensive ferry, and it takes me 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to get anywhere in the city. The times are nearly doubled if it's a night or a weekend because Hoboken is a commuter town. We like to go to the city during times other than 8am-7pm, though!

So, we've set our sights on Park Slope in Brooklyn, the coolest, cutest little neighborhood that is juuuust barely within our financial budget, assuming I continue to cook every blessed meal of every day. Or until I get a job, ha. Anyway, we've also decided that we really, really need a three-bedroom apartment. It sounds so greedy! But the third bedroom can be tiny, as long as it fits a desk and a crib, that's all! Guests may have to sleep on the couch - sorry!

We have figured out all the logistics, though: train times, monthly budgets, selling my car, parks in the area, grocery stores in the area, everything. All we need now is the place. Enter realtors. Dun, dun, DUUNNNN! (I really need a more interactive blog for this kind of storytelling.) Realtors have this peculiar arrangement in Brooklyn. Landlords release information to realtors about an apartment for rent, 4 or 5 different realtors post to craigslist and such, and potential tenants call/email/text realtors for access to the apartment. Realtors, at their leisure, respond to potential tenants, arrange for a time to see the place, accept deposits, and handle the contracts.

Keep in mind, the potential tenant (ie, myself) is the one who has to scour craigslist and such, harass the realtor into finding time to show the place (because the realtor is SOO busy with 300 other apartments on the market), be stood up by the realtor (who is still SOO busy with other apartments), arrange another time, almost get stood up again, find out that the realtor went to the wrong address (300 addresses to keep track of!), and finally meet the realtor at the desired apartment. The potential tenant (again, me) then has to ask many questions about utilities, when the place is available, laundry, and such, only to find that the realtor knows 10% of the answers (because it gets confusing with so many apartments). Then, because there are 3 other potential tenants who are going to see the apartment in 15 minutes, the first potential tenant (me) must decide very quickly whether or not to put down a deposit because there's a 95% likelihood that the next person who sees the place will.

AAAAND the potential tenant is supposed to pay the realtor's fee! That's 12% of the annual rent, which, at $3000/month is somewhere around $4,320! WHAT?!? You make me do the research, harass you into meeting me, and not expect you to know anything about the apartment, AND you want me to pay you over $4,000 dollars!!! What's worse, the other potential tenants don't seem to mind. We've lost several apartments because we tried to negotiate having the landlord pay the realtor's fee, and we were scooped by some other louse who would.

The realtor is bad, but sometimes the landlord is just as bad. Every single time you ask to see a place, the realtor asks who is moving in, to which I reply, "Myself, my husband, and our child." 60% of the time, the realtor reports back that the landlord does not think the apartment is suitable for one trivial reason or another, and I begin to get the feeling that the landlord simply does not want children in his building (I won't say his/her because it's always "his").

Even when the landlord "allows" me to see the apartment, we travel 1 1/2 hours to Brooklyn, we wrangle the realtor into meeting with me, and we love the place and put down the deposit, still - STILL - there are problems. The last landlord didn't like our financial paperwork because Chad had only been working for 3 months. He has a job at an awesome law firm in Manhattan, and that's not good enough?! The sleazy landlord rented it to someone else, and we're still working on getting our deposit back.

I never knew that moving could be so horribly hard. I've been actually very lucky because Cora's been in Texas with grandparents for almost 2 weeks, but most of my time has been fruitlessly wasted on this house-hunting business in Brooklyn. I feel sorry for little Cora because she's about to get dragged to Brooklyn every day. At least she likes the subway and being outside. It's warm, so maybe we can play on dirty doorsteps while we wait to be stood up by realtors.

Sorry this is such a downer post, but finding an apartment in the City when you have a kid is no fun at all. I know it will all work out in the end; it always does. I just want the end to come soon! And then we will host lots and lots of guests in our cool Brooklyn apartment and show them all sorts of fun in NYC. Just have to keep my eye on the prize.

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