The One Melting on the Sidewalk
Bonjour, mes amis! I can't even believe how many people watched that video of me fangirling over Outlander. I quickly discovered just how active/hilarious/sweet/wonderful Diana Gabaldon's fan community is, and even ended up getting a quick note from The Creator of Jamie herself! If you're like me and you've only recently discovered the series, you should check out My Outlander Purgatory and the DG section on The Compuserve forums. DG also keeps a great blog on her website, so check it out!
I also mentioned in the video that my darling roommate J and I were starting the apartment hunt. Well, we found one--and we kind of love it! But, let me tell you... apartment hunting in the summer in NYC is quite possibly the most torturous kind of hell that exists. I'm sure it's just as bad elsewhere (or, you know, nowhere), but we spent about two weeks looking and if we hadn't been approved for this apartment, I really think I would have resigned myself to living under my desk at work.
In the first place, you have to understand that NYC real estate brokers are effing ridiculous, and rude, and not at all trustworthy. I'm sure our budget meant we weren't exactly getting the cream of the crop, but I fear for the city if there are brokers that were worse. One broker tried to sell us a place that was directly across from Port Authority Bus Terminal (about a block from the busiest section of Times Square). That same lady also had the really annoying habit of taking us to see apartments that A) weren't available or B) she couldn't get into. J and I were so excited because she was supposed to be showing us a place in my dream neighborhood of the Upper West Side, so we killed ourselves to meet her up there after work. Only, we couldn't get in to see the apartment. It wasn't exactly her fault since the tenants were the ones that were supposed to be there, but she didn't call to confirm and then--AND THEN--she went to every single floor in the building, knocking on doors, trying to get someone to show us their apartment. HELLO. WOULD YOU EVER LET THREE STRANGERS INTO YOUR APARTMENT?
We spent pretty much all of last Friday with another broker--let's call him Chatty for the sake of ease. I kid you not, this man talked for almost five straight hours. (I should mention here that our appointment wasn't with HIM, but we were constantly blown off by the people we were supposed to be meeting and got stuck with junior agents or "partners.") In addition to the amount of walking you have to do--on that day alone, we probably walked a good 50 blocks--having to sustain inane conversation with someone you're steadily growing to resent is really, surprise surprise, very exhausting business. He talked to us about EVERYTHING. About how he lost his high roller job when the economy crashed, about a screenwriting class he took in college, about how there's a Duane Reade on every corner (NO. REALLY? TELL US MORE.), and even, at one point, asked us if we had Sonics in Arizona and if their frozen drinks were any good. Half of the apartments he tried to show us were also occupied and/or he couldn't get into because he didn't have the key or the Super's contact information.
They all tried to tell us that the market was particularly bad this summer; apparently the occupancy rate in the city is below 1%, which makes things super competitive. Here's another gem from our search: J and I had a brief (aka one day) moment in which we decided to forsake Manhattan altogether and start looking in the outer boroughs. And by outer boroughs, I mean one apartment in Queens and one in Brooklyn. The one in Brooklyn was in this cute neighborhood called Cobble Hill and the apartment itself was gorgeous. Colored glass, big bedrooms with built-in shelves, etc. The only problem? Every single person at the open house applied for it, and we didn't get it because we have to use guarantors. What, may you ask, is a guarantor? Well. Where to begin?
The standard rule for renting a place in the City is that you have to make 40x the monthly rent in order to qualify without having a parent/friend/relative essentially co-sign the lease with you. J and I are on publishing assistant salaries (in the $30ks), so we don't make enough combined and had to ask our parents to fill out all of this paperwork and agree to pay the monthly rent if, for some reason, we can't. It's more annoying than anything else, but landlords will often approve someone who doesn't need one over people who do. So, awesome.
Oh, and another thing that drove me crazy: the forms you need to apply. For the last two weeks I've been carrying around with me:
- My two most recent tax returns - My two most recent pay stubs - Copies of my driver's license - A letter of employment from my HR department - My most recent bank statement - Also, my poor checkbook
The funny thing is, our new apartment was the second apartment we looked at. We saw it on the first day (the evening I made the Outlander vlog). The broker (the most humorless man in existence) told me I was crazy for not signing immediately after we saw it. But what can I say? Our current apartment is very spacious, and we were a bit shocked to see how small the bedrooms and kitchens looked in comparison. Actually, that was the problem--we didn't have enough to compare it to. And maybe we WERE a little turned off by the sheer number of crucifixes the tenants had hanging on the wall. Let me tell you, though, after looking at some of the smallest, most depressing shoebox-sized apartments this city has to offer, we went back and looked at it again, and suddenly that place was a PALACE. It was HUGE!! The bedrooms were MAGNIFICENT!! The kitchen had a DISHWASHER WE SOMEHOW DIDN'T NOTICE BEFORE! AND THE BUILDING HAS LAUNDRY!! DID I MENTION THE DISHWASHER??
Basically, New York warps your standards. On pretty much everything. There's a price to pay for wanting to live in this fine city, and that price is dealing with soul-sucking brokers, who destroy any ounce of happiness in your heart as fast as any dementor.
Also related: Screw New York!