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.
There were added bonuses, in addition to proximity to friends:
- My commute would be cut in half
- I’d be closer to Central Park, where I like to hang out during the warm months
- Metro North would be right around the corner, making for easier trips to see my family in CT
- 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.
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.
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:
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!