How’s It Shakin’, Harlem?

14 Apr

My stories about moving seem to have gone on much longer than the actual move, itself!  Done with moving posts – I promise (for the moment!).  Now, on to where I actually moved when I left Sunset Park.

When I decided to look for a new apartment, I was really intent on moving closer to my friends.  For a whole year it had taken me so long to get home when I went to friends’ houses.  Even my commute to work in midtown was over an hour long.  So, you can imagine how long it took to get home from wayyyyy uptown.  At the time, I had seven friends living in Harlem, and I decided that Harlem would be a great place for me, too.

A general map of the areas of Harlem. For those who don't know, Harlem IS on the island of Manhattan. For some odd reason there seems to be some confusion about that fact. See here, for yourself. That large green box in the center of the image is Central Park.

There were added bonuses, in addition to proximity to friends:

  1. My commute would be cut in half
  2. I’d be closer to Central Park, where I like to hang out during the warm months
  3. Metro North would be right around the corner, making for easier trips to see my family in CT
  4. Soul food.  ‘Nuff said.

TIP!: This doesn’t really have anything to do with real estate, but it does pertain to Harlem.  In lieu of the more expensive soul food restaurants, like Sylvia’s, try something just slightly off the beaten path.  For the most delicious food and very inexpensive prices, my two favorite spots were Miss Maude’s Spoonbread Too and the Red Rose Diner.  More to come on those two local eateries.

This place was my home away from home. If you try it out, give Damion (the manager) a hug for me and tell him I sent you.

My apartment search was very quick.  Well, in truth, I spent a lot of time on Craigslist (when DON’T I do that, though?).  But when it came down to it, I signed a lease on the first place I saw.  I walked in and loved the apartment, which happened to be just one block from the 2/3 subway line.  And while the cost was slightly more than I’d initially wanted to spend, my research told me that it was on par with other comparable apartments in the area.

The building had its own management company, and one of their agents showed me the unit.  It was being renovated with a new kitchen and bathroom when I went for my viewing.  I was excited about having a place that felt new, rather than my 100 year old brownstone.  I was very anxious to live in a complex with a management company, rather than a landlord.  Plus, the unit had a dishwasher AND a washer/dryer combo.  Can a girl ask for anything more?  Long story short:  I signed on the dotted line within a couple of days.

Standing in front of my new building and loving it.

TIP!: If you work one-on-one with a “no fee” landlord (one who would normally be willing to pay your realtor a one month OP), you may be able to negotiate a deal for yourself.  Since they’d otherwise be paying a realtor, why not have them pay you?  Ask for a half-month to 2 months worth of free rent, depending on the length of your lease.  Can’t hurt to ask, and if you sound confident in your request, I’d say you’d have a good shot!  I should have done this.

The complex I moved to is called Riverton Square.  It stretches from 135th Street to 138th Street and from 5th Avenue to the FDR Drive.  The feel of the grounds, buildings, and apartments is very similar to that of Stuyvesant Town in Lower Manhattan, and it was actually developed by the same company, back in 1944.  There were good and bad aspects of living there, which I will delve into in the coming posts.  But for now, here is the blank slate I was working with:

The grounds at Riverton.

The courtyard outside my building.

Click here to see my floorplan at Riverton, in Harlem.

Facing back toward the entryway of the apartment. Two closets on the left, as you walk in.

Walking in from the front door, the kitchen is on the left. All new stainless steel appliances. Woo woo!

Walking through the dining room.

Looking left into the living room.

From the mini hallway, the bedroom was on the left. Theres one more window that I couldn't fit into this shot, on the right.

The closets across from my bedroom. Beware of the innocent looking washer/dryer. Might seem like it would be a gift from the apartment gods, but it's more like a Trojan horse. More to come on that.

The bathroom was straight at the end of the hallway. Ooohhh, new tile!

Now, if you’re from out of town, this apartment may not look like anything grand.  But, again, by NYC standards, this is a very spacious abode.  As a single person, the apartment was an amazing size, and while my friends all lived close-by, 135th & Madison was an ideal location.  Slowly, though, some problems did rear their ugly heads.  We’ll get into all of that.  But first, bask with slightly-less-naïve-renter-Rebecca for a moment, in the glow of a new apartment.

Any Harlem fans out there?  Tell me what you love above 100th Street!

Images:  (1) WikiVoyage, (2) NYCGo, (3) Rebecca for Happy City Living, (4-6) Riverton Square, All others Rebecca for Happy City Living


2 Responses to “How’s It Shakin’, Harlem?”

  1. Leticia Brown August 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Would you recommend the Riverton? 28 yo, single female. Was the washer/dryer the only problem? What about roaches/ mice? Safety? I’m going to look at the building tomorrow. Thanks!!!!

    • happycityliving August 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      Hey Leticia, I actually recently considered moving back to Riverton, so YES I would recommend it. I think it’s a pretty good value, and I felt very comfortable in the area. I had a very old lady on my floor who caused everyone to have roaches for several months, but as soon as someone came in to clean her place up, the problem was over. I’d say pests are a possibility anywhere in the city, depending on your neighbors. Also, the Riverton management company changed right when I moved out, and i’ve heard the new one is better. I was recently told the bad washer/dryers were removed (laundry rooms downstairs now, I guess), so that’s good news. Hope you enjoy the place you see, and feel free to email me at if you have any other questions after your viewing. Good luck!

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