I would say for the past 11 years I have been
interested ok obsessed with Real Estate. I like to say that it’s because I work for a Real Estate Management company. But the truth is that my obsession began when I was almost evicted from (what was at that time) my dream apartment in Sunnyside, Queens NY.
I was a fan of HGTV’s House Hunters, and most of the renovations shows on the channel. Like Design on a Dime, Curb Appeal, Hidden Potential, Divine Design.
I even thought about becoming a Real Estate Broker.
My obsession started when I lived in Jersey City, NJ, in a tiny studio. The price was perfect, under $1000. Unheard of in 2009 but it was still a studio. When I finally started making some money I thought “Let’s begin the apartment hunt’
That was around 2015 (the recession hit me HARD). Daily I would look at apartment listings, mostly to see what the prices were. I knew I could maybe afford $1000 to $1200 a month. It was upsetting to see that apartments in my price range were either in areas I did not want to live in (due to the distance to work or because of crime) or in horrible condition or smaller than where I was at. I didn’t think that was possible but I was proved wrong.
I saw Brooklyn become gentrified and a hip place to be while living in NJ. I applied to every housing lottery that I fit the criteria for but was never called for an interview.
I saw Manhattan price skyrocket, along with Brooklyn and Queens.
When I met my husband and we started looking for a place together I told him ‘Unless you want to pay $2000 or more a month we need to look in the Bronx.’
He didn’t believe me that prices in Manhattan were crazy. He was living in the same apartment for 8 years. He wasn’t actively looking at real estate listings like I was.
When I say actively I really mean every day at work when I had downtime I was looking for my apartment out of NJ. Even with two incomes Brooklyn and Queens were expensive. Plus hubby didn’t want to live far from where he worked (East Side of Manhattan). That left the Bronx and the Bronx had slowly been rising rent prices. They had to compete with the other boroughs.
We found and applied for a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment in the Savoy Park Apartment complex in Harlem. We were accepted. We were close to being able to stay in Manhattan. A little further uptown compared to his East Harlem apartment. But it WAS Manhattan. Yet we didn’t take it.
Yes, it was 2 bedrooms and 2 baths when we had 1 of each in East Harlem.
Yes it was newly renovated with a gorgeous kitchen (and I don’t even like cooking, but I would have become a chef in that kitchen)
Yes, it was in an elevator building when we had none in East Harlem.
But at $2600 a month!!! We took into account the neighborhood that wasn’t really seeing that much gentrification. I took into account that with all my research I KNEW we could find better. I wasn’t willing to sign on the dotted line.
So we continued to look, saw more places…some in Manhattan more in the Bronx.
I feel in love with one in Kingsbridge. An area that would have been a hike for both of us to get to work. I didn’t care, I loved the neighborhood and the apartment was ok. On the small side BUT it came with a dishwasher AND an in-unit washer/dryer. The broker said that Landlords were starting to add amenities to units that were practically non-existent in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Laundry in the building…ok, but in your apartment? That was new!
Hubby felt the Kingsbridge apartment for the location and size was too much at $2050. Needless to say, I was disappointed and to this day I mention how much I wanted/want to live there.
We found a place lower in the Bronx, with one additional bedroom, no dishwasher but there was a washer/dryer. The neighborhood wasn’t a place I wanted to be in once I saw the front door of the building had no lock, fellas on every corner, and a window in our apartment had what looked to be a bullet hole
I realized this AFTER we signed the lease and gave in out deposit. I was willing to walk away, lose the money and start over. Then I heard a voice…“When you want something you find a way to get it.”
That was my Mom talking to me about how when I want something…nothing stops me till I get it.
My main objective was finding a place with a washer/dryer that was in a decent neighborhood. I mean once you see the possibilities it is hard to give the dream up. The landlord let us out of that first lease, and we took another apartment (under the same Landlord). The neighborhood was a step up from the first, the building and apartment…not so much. But we took it anyway. I think it was maybe $100 less than the first, had an awkward layout…BUT it had a washer/dryer.
When I think back to that apartment, the three months we lived there, I’m surprised we didn’t break up. I was miserable. We didn’t like the neighborhood at all (despite it looking like it was ok) It was way too busy and crowded. The building was small and narrow. Our apartment was located right near the stairs and we heard everything. Hubby hated that the most.
And the neighbors. I will never know what the deal was. One day someone broke a Snapple bottle and pushed it over in front of our door. Then I found a mouse, stuck to a mousetrap, stuck to the floor of our doorframe. After that, I demanded that the Landlord let us out of our lease because to me it felt like harassment.
This is where the story gets interesting…the Landlord offered us two other apartments (oddly one was in Kingsbridge) and the other was further lower in the Bronx.
When we tried to see the one in Kingsbridge it was already gone…but it didn’t matter when we saw the one in the lower part of the Bronx we both loved it. It wasn’t even renovated completely. Work still had to be done.
Two things had me feeling comfortable about this one.
It had my beloved washer/dryer in the unit and growing up I lived around the corner. I was familiar with the area. I had happy memories of the area. Memories of my Mom.
Hubby loved it because it was $300 less than the harassment one AND bigger.
When people say God does things for a reason believe them. Throughout the whole journey, I kept my faith that we would find a place that we both liked. Now we don’t love it but we do not hate coming home. I like my neighbors (most) and I’m not disgusted or afraid of the neighborhood. I just don’t walk around it because shops are kind of spread out. When we went to view the apartment Hubby says my mouth dropped open. I don’t remember that. It probably did, lol.
I was impressed. The apartment was what I wanted. The area was familiar. I lived around the corner when I was a kid. It felt weird, but I felt like I was coming home. This isn’t our forever home. It will be the place we bring our son home to…and I’m ok with that.
I still look at real estate listing because Hubby and I want to BUY something now…A full year in the apartment and we are okay staying but not for long. I want to buy something by the time our son is at least 5 years old if not sooner. I want a house. I NEVER wanted a house with all the responsibility before…but children change you 😉
Until next time,