Anyone who is planning to move to New York knows that the idea of finding an apartment can be quite daunting. In the months leading up to my big move I began researching so I knew what I’d be in for. I signed up for email updates from Easy Roomate, and I looked up what I could expect to get on Street Easy with different budgets in different areas.
I was lucky to already have friends living in New York so I had people to talk to about certain areas and rent etc. So I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to find a place in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It seemed to me that I could get a nice room here, in a decent apartment, for a relatively good price considering New York prices. Bushwick also fulfils the arty hipster and oh so cool NYC vibe that I wanted to find. With cool bars, cafes and lots of street art and art in general.
I did end up finding a great place in Bushwick and the process couldn’t have been simpler. My friend added me to the Facebook group Gypsy Housing NYC. It’s a group where people share if they have sublets or apartments available. There are loads of people in the group so there is always something being shared. I started to write to people even before I moved just to see what kind of response I would get and what were the main requirements for securing each apartment.
The day before I left I organised a viewing for an apartment I really liked. I viewed it a few days after I arrived and knew it was a great fit for me. There were two other people already living there for a while so the kitchen and living area were fully furnished, which is a big plus compared to starting from scratch with an empty apartment. It’s bad enough having to completely furnish your own room, having a TV and a couch in situ, definitely softens that blow.
My sunglasses, cape and necklace are Penneys
Actually finding an apartment that ticked all my boxes wasn’t the most stressful aspect for me, which was surprising. It was actually the palava that went along with guarantors/credit checks/lease signing etc. I was told I would have to pay a security deposit and first months rent up front, which was expected. This was to submitted along with a guarantor application, guarantor agreement, rental agreement, guarantor’s drivers licence or another photo ID, two of my guarantor’s payslips and a copy of their bank statement! I needed to supply a guarantor as I did not have proof of income yet. And since I’ve said the word guarantor so much I should probably explain it a bit more. It’s someone who agrees to pay your rent if you are unable to. I am lucky enough to have parents who were more than happy to agree to cooperate with this somewhat annoying system, so I could get myself set up in an apartment.
Once I was accepted by the tenants who already lived in the apartment and had submitted all the documents I thought I was all set to go. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case. Since I didn’t have a credit score the management company of the apartment wanted five months rent up front. FIVE MONTHS! I said straight away that I couldn’t afford that and that was not what was agreed upon in the first place. It was then decided that the security deposit, the first months rent and the last months rent was enough to cover the fact that I don’t have a credit score. So yeah, there goes the majority of my savings.
Also, there was drama when the management company noticed that my guarantor agreement wasn’t notarised and that they wanted the original copy. I had just gotten my parents to scan a signed copy of the letter and email it over to me. My housemate and I were in the same boat. So we went to the bank to see if they could notarise the documents for us. Talk about bad timing as we walked into the bank minutes after there was an attempted robbery. It turned out that the bank couldn’t help us anyway because they would have needed our parents to be present with identification, to sign off that they witnessed their signatures. So we ended up not getting our documents notarised and we were not allowed to leave the bank until the police arrived. Eventually, about ten of them arrived and they started putting up yellow tape around the counter that had been targeted. Other customers who were trapped in the bank were getting agitated, to say the least, and things started to get kind of scary. After another bit of a wait, a police man came over to us and told us that we had to show some ID and tell the police what we saw. We saw nothing so we were let go after we told them this. An eventful and stressful day all round. So some crazy New York moments include bank robberies not celebrity sightings!
After all that, our parents got our documents notarised at home and posted them to the US. We moved in and it was all grand in the end. Hopefully anybody thinking of moving to NY has an easier experience with no bank robbery references. This just gives you an idea of what people mean when they say New York is hard and anything can happen here. Not that it’s all negative but just to keep yourself safe and sometimes you have to be ready for some bizarre turn of events. And I am happy to report that I have not been involved in or come across another attempted bank robbery since!
Thanks for reading xxx
My boots are Guess
Photos by Celine Slevin