Saturday, April 12, 2008

Still undecided about moving to New York City

I have still not made up my mind about moving to New York City. On the one hand, I really do want to do so, but it is a non-trivial financial leap, especially since I am extremely interested in trying to get by with only part-time work so that I have more time for my own projects.

I did make the "move" and contacted my old real estate broker in Tudor City who found me apartments twice in the past. Basically they had the same information as on Craigslist. The going price for a studio apartment in Tudor City is about $1600. That is for a small studio. The "larger" studios go for about $1800 (but even they are small by non-Manhattan standards.) I had hoped that prices would be lower due to the massive weakness in New York's financial sector, but they are only modestly weaker. That $1600 is down from $1650. I saw a listing on CL for $1595 that is now down to $1550. My target budget is $1400 to $1500, with $1450 as what I am really shooting for. The good news is that the listings I see have been there for over a month now, so that says demand is down and maybe the owners will be a little more flexible as time goes on and business is New York only slowly recovers from its current decline. My current plan is to wait another three weeks or so (first week of May) and then be more aggressive about trying to get my $1400 price. It is very possible that somebody will lose their job and need to move and want to get out of their lease at any cost.

I did work through my budget and did verify that I actually could "survive" paying $1600 for an apartment, but "survive" is the operant word. Getting by in Manhattan on $10 a day is technically possible, but the thought of not being able to eat out more than once a week is a bit discouraging. Actually, that is my current budget right now, but I am anxious to relax my budget a little. Currently I save the difference in rent by saving a little every month. OTOH, just being able to live in New York and wander around the city any time and not have to pay outrageous amounts of money to stay at a hotel is worth a lot. At some point I may take on some additional part-time work or increase my hours, but I would like to have a budget that does not require me to work more than I would prefer.

The broker did warn me about construction noise during the day. Tudor City is across the street from Waterside, a huge development site where they are tearing down a 100-year old power plant and developing a whole new office and residential complex. It is the second biggest development site in Manhattan after the WTC. But here in Bellevue, WA, construction crews are pounding away all day long on a new high-rise apartment building right across the side street from me, less than 100 feet away. Even on Saturday they are pounding away. And I can see eight tower cranes from my window. So, construction is nothing new to me. Of course Tudor City also gets a lot of noise from First Avenue and 42nd Street and other sources. One warm day I was sitting in my apartment (25 Tudir City Place) working on my computer and every few minutes I would hear someone bellow in a loud voice "Free at last!... Free at last!" It was Samual L. Jackson filming a scene from Caveman's Valentine on the top of our building.

There are plenty of apartments in the $1100 to $1300 range, but they are all up in Inwood, Washington Heights, Harlem, or Morningside Hieghts. That is too far north for me. I want something around Midtown.

In any case, I am hopeful that I can line up an apartment for $1500 or so.

Incidentally, if I were in New York right now on a typical Saturday I would be walking around East Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Pier 17, Battery Park, the Word Financial Center, and the World Trade Center site about this time.

-- Jack Krupansky

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