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Clinton Hill, Here I Come

5 Jun

Well folks, I made a decision. You may recall from my last post that I was deciding between three apartments, since my lease at The Gate is up at the end of June.  Just to recap, here were the choices:

  • Option 1:  Stay in Battery Park City and pay $200 more, per month, in rent.
  • Option 2:  Sign a lease on a large, well-priced 1BR apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn that boasts some nice outdoor space.
  • Option 3:  Save some money by moving back up to Harlem, where the rent at my old place (Riverton) is now around $1400/month.

Painful as it is to leave our beloved Battery Park City, we just could not justify paying $2050/month for a studio (call us crazy!).  And since Agent Owens and I had decided to leave Harlem a mere 14 months ago, we felt like we just weren’t ready to go back yet.  That said, the decision has been made to go with the apartment in Clinton Hill!

Wikipedia offers a great map of the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Clinton Hill is in the northern, central part of the borough.

Trust me, over the course of the weekend there was plenty of bellyaching on my part about the fact that I didn’t know which option to pick.  I think Agent Owens was prepared to break up with me if I uttered the whiny phrase, “I just don’t knoooow what to doooooo!” one more time.  It’s hard to give up living in an area you love so much, and it’s equally hard to pass up a chance to pay $1400/month in rent, for a large 1BR.  But still, I was being a little bit Scarlet O’Hara.

Fortunately, for everyone involved, the decision needed to be made relatively fast.  I have to tell The Gate whether I’m staying or leaving, by tomorrow.  And, I needed to submit an application on the Clinton Hill place ASAP, if I was going to go that route.  Time was a-tickin’.

In the end, we chose Clinton Hill, and I think we made a great choice.  Truthfully, Clinton Hill (as a neighborhood) is a big unknown for me, which is a little scary but mostly exciting.  Turns out, though, that we’ll be with family in the new place.  Agent Owens’s brother and his wife live about 4 blocks from the apartment, and they gave us a little tour of the immediate surrounding area today, en route to brunch.  Plus, I have some family friends in the neighborhood, and we have several college friends within walking distance.  Party in Brooklyn!

If you're familiar with Brooklyn, the Clinton Hill neighborhood is outlined here.

As for the apartment itself, we’ll be renting a condo from owners who are moving to Connecticut (where I’m from!  Seemed auspicious!).  The finishes are beautiful, the space is large, and there are 3 (count ‘em, 3!!!!!) outdoor spaces.  We have a private balcony, a shared back patio where everyone BBQs, and a shared roof deck.  Seeing as we are currently in the season of sunbathing, grilling, and letting-the-fresh-air-in, I am beyond excited.

All that’s left now is for the other agent to run my credit check and for me to actually sign the lease.  I am hoping that will all happen in the next couple of days, and I will certainly keep you posted as to how that goes.

So, without further ado, here are the pics:

When you walk in, you're facing the living room and the sliding glass doors onto the balcony.

This photo doesnt do it much justice, but the bedroom is quite large.

Double closet in the bedroom. Big plus? Oh, yes.

Hall Closet next to the bathroom, which has a linen closet, marble floor, and heat lamp. Ahhh.

The kitchen is at the back of the living room. Yay for lots of cabinets and a dishwasher!

Looking out onto the balcony, from the living room. The balcony overlooks the patio/garden.

Shared patio. Bring on the BBQs!

Picture me up here, in my beach chair, with a gin & tonic, gazing at that skyline. Yes, please.

When I sat down to write this post, I x’d out all of my Criagslist, MLS, and random apartment listing tabs on my browser.  It was beyond therapeutic!  And now, I’m off to watch the rest of the NBA finals in peace, with a beer, knowing that I have a place to rest my head next month.  Ahhh.


Images:  (1) Wikipedia, (2) Google Maps, All others Rebecca for Happy City Living


You’re Joking, Right?

11 May

…that’s what I thought to myself when I read The Gate’s email response to my rent-lowering request.  In case you missed the lease-renewal-negotiation scenario, here’s a quick recap:

  1.  This past year I’ve been paying $1857 for rent.  That price was the net effective of one month free on a 14-month lease, with a base of $2000.
  2. I received a lease renewal letter in the mail.  The Gate offered to renew my lease at $2200 for one year or $2310 for two years, making my monthly payment at least $343 more than I currently pay. Oh, hell no.
  3. I wrote the leasing office a lengthy email stating why the rental market did not justify the raised cost.  I also listed a bunch of reasons why Agent Owens and I didn’t feel we’d received all the amenities we were initially promised.  To start the negotiations low, I asked the building to compensate me for the lack of follow-though on the initially promised amenities.  I asked the leasing office to REDUCE my current rent to a base of $1900, with a month free on a 14-month lease (net effective of $1764).  Fair to receive compensation for services not rendered, and best to start low when negotiating, right?

And today, they laughed in my face.  Wanna know what their counter offer was?  $2162. !!!!!  WTF?!  They lowered their initial offer by $38/month.  And they claimed it was their final offer.

Great size for a studio, but $2162 is just not happening.

Needless to say, I will not be paying that much.  I immediately emailed them back, letting them know that I was extremely disappointed with their counter and that I could not believe they wouldn’t be more interested in working with their current tenants.  I reiterated that there was no point in offering new tenant incentives, only to price those new tenants out the following year.  I’m sure they’re not at all fazed by my virtual hissy-fit, but let me tell you, I. was. pissed.

So, *insert big, giant, dramatic sigh*, now begins the hunt.  Who knows if the leasing office here at The Gate will respond to my email.  But it’s becoming quite clear that I need a back-up plan.  This means that for the next month or so, I’ll be living and breathing apartment listing sites.  Did I mention that I’m Type-A crazy/obsessive?  I am.  Poor Agent Owens.  My head will probably be buried so deep in my computer that he won’t even be able to pull me away from the screen for dinner.  Yea right, who am I kidding?  Even a stressed out girl needs to eat pasta!  But beyond apartment hunting and eating pasta, there won’t be much else.

In a way, I’m glad the counter-offer was so definitive.  Mentally, I’d figured that if the renewal price was below $2000, I could afford to accept it (not happily, but it’s better than packing up all my things and moving, yet again).  I’d also figured that if the counter was above $2100, it would be a definite no-go.  The only tricky situation would have been if they’d offered something in the $2000-range.  That would have thrown my budgeting for a loop.  So, no harm, no foul, right?

Riiiiight.  Keep telling yourself that, Rebecca.  I’m off to pout and sulk now.  You can find me in the corner, if you need me.

The corner nook in my apartment where I sit on my bed and sulk.

Images:  Rebecca for Happy City Living

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

19 Apr

In my earlier tour of my Harlem abode, you may have noticed that the apartment featured a highly coveted appliance.  If you don’t live in NYC, you probably think washers and dryers are normal components of any household.  In this city, though, finding an apartment with a washer/dryer is like hitting the jackpot.

So, the realtor who showed me the apartment at Riverton made sure he emphasized how great it was that the unit came with an LG washer/dryer all-in-one combo unit.  The idea is that you load your clothes in and then let the thing run.  You can set it to go straight through a wash cycle and a dry cycle, without stopping.  Theoretically, not having to change the clothes over from one machine to the next should save time.  Unfortunately, this is not so, my friends.

"I look nice, don't I? I will woo you with my silver brand-new appliance charm."

Hear me when I say this:  the wash/dry cycle took FIVE HOURS.  FIVE HOURS!!!!!  What on earth could that machine be doing for five hours?  I know that in five hours I could complete most of a day’s work, fly to London, watch five episodes of a House TV marathon, Facebook stalk my entire friend list, run two whole miles, or read at least 10 pages of a book (yea, running and reading are NOT my strong suits…but I could still do either of those activities in the time that washer/dryer took to do one lousy cycle).  But seriously, what the hell was that friggin’ appliance DOING for five hours?????  Washing and drying clothes was it’s sole job in life!

Now you might be saying to yourself, “This girl just wants everything.  She’s not satisfied with having such a great contraption in her apartment.  She’s already forgotten her old life at the laundromat.  Selfish, spoiled brat.”  You’d be wrong to think that.

When I saw that appliance on my Harlem apartment tour, I practically did a happy dance right there on the spot.  My laundromat in Sunset Park was up at the top of a hill, and carrying laundry up said hill was nightmarish in the winter.  To complicate matters, in my former laundromat life I always had to run home after work to squeeze in a wash cycle and a dry cycle before they closed up shop at 9:00, holding my clothing hostage when I mismanaged my time.  And forget trying to do laundry on the weekends.  Old ladies and moms with 10 kids will FIGHT you for machines.

Dryer security. You touch his mommy's dryer and you're going to have a problem. I'm telling you, stay out of the laundromat on weekends.

So, I was thrilled at my little LG gift, and I didn’t even care that it was taking up half my closet.  But I soon realized that problems would abound with this machine.  First of all, the capacity of the machine was very small.  I could fit maybe one towel and a few articles of clothing in a load.  This meant I had to do laundry constantly.  To keep up with two people’s laundry, I’d need to do a wash/dry cycle every day.  And when I fell behind, as so often happened, it was nearly impossible to catch back up.

Then came the issue of dryness.  The dryer did not dry anything.  If I had any item heavier than a blouse or t-shirt in the wash, everything would come out wet and wrinkled.  I’d then have to reset the machine to run a dry-only cycle for another hour and a half.  If you’re keeping score here, we’re up to 6.5 hours to do a tiny load of laundry.  I cursed that damn machine every single day.

At first, when I saw that you took up half my closet, I didn't mind. I thought you were about to provide a little slice of domestic-bliss-pie. But no. You wasted hours of my life, left me high and dry soaking wet, and you wrinkled up my clothes. Shame. On. You!

Here is what I would tell you about washers and dryers, dear city dweller.  You may want to own one, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the washer or dryer your apartment offers is necessarily one that you’d choose if you were shopping for appliances.  You may find yourself with a machine that is old and inefficient (or brand new and plain old useless).  I can tell you that I will forever be wary of washer/dryer combo units.  Based on my experience, you need to have them separate for each one of them to do their respective job the right way.  So, if you find an apartment listing online and it’s boasting a washer/dryer, find out the make and model of the unit (either from the listing agent or when you go on an apartment viewing).  Do a little bit of googling and see what other people have to say about it.

I can’t say that I’d ever again choose to walk up a hill with my laundry basket, as I had to do in Sunset Park.  But I will tell you this:  I’ll take my current full-sized, shared-by-the-whole-building, separate washers and dryers at The Gate, over an in-apartment combo unit any day of the week.

Speaking of which, my hamper is overflowing, and I think tomorrow’s going to have to be a laundry day.

Any unique laundry experiences during your city-dwelling?  Is this maybe one of those instances that makes you long for the comforts of suburbia?  Yea, me too.  Hey, we city folk benefit from lots of stuff the suburbs can’t offer – like falafel in the middle of the night.  We can’t win ’em all.

Images:  (1) and (3) Rebecca for Happy City Living, (2) Flickr – Beth Rankin