A Scramble for an Upper East Side Studio


Photo

THE RENTER Bailey Stanbury in her studio on the Upper East Side.

Credit
Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

Bailey Stanbury enjoyed living in her first New York apartment, in one of the many financial district high-rises converted from an office tower. The building was filled with amenities — gym, lounge, laundry room and more.

For three years, she lived in a studio there with her boyfriend. The rent ended up at $2,665 a month. But the couple split in early spring, shortly before the lease was ending. Ms. Stanbury was forced to move with, as she says, “a serious time crunch.”

She planned to rent a studio of her own. This time, she knew it would be in a no-frills building. She targeted the Upper East Side, near one of her two work locations. Ms. Stanbury, a 2012 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, is an educational director at Mathnasium, a math learning center. She had friends living in the neighborhood who loved it.

Ms. Stanbury, 26, who is from the Jersey Shore, set her budget at $1,900 a month and checked out some listings, but soon realized that sum was unrealistically low.

“I clearly don’t understand real estate in New York, because $1,900 is close to my parents’ mortgage for a five-bedroom house,” she said. What’s more, agents were showing her basement apartments, when she had told them her main requirement was natural light.

Photo

EAST 76TH STREET The prospective renter visited a building with two one-bedroom places. Sleeping quarters were tight in both.

Credit
Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

So she raised her budget to $2,000 — “if I absolutely loved it,” she said.

One agent showed her places hundreds of dollars above her price range. Another strung her along. “He would say he would call me in the morning, and then I wouldn’t hear from him,” she said. “Two days later he would say, ‘That one’s gone but I have another one to show you.’ ”

Interior photos, she found, were “very deceiving.” In many cases, after showing up in person, she said, “I realized I could not live in this space.”

Then she remembered a friend of her sister’s from their hometown, Brittny Cantor, the chief executive officer of MyGradPad, a rental agency geared to recent college graduates and young professionals. Ms. Cantor connected her with Juliana Salibello, a saleswoman there.

“We had a week to find her a place,” said Ms. Salibello, who took Ms. Stanbury hunting for three days in a row. “When she came to us, she was already very frustrated with the process and the market. A lot of the studios were smaller than she expected.”

By now, Ms. Stanbury had raised her price to $2,100 a month, which “wasn’t quite realistic for the type of studio she was looking for,” Ms. Salibello said. “I explained that increasing her budget by $100 would make all the difference.” So up it went again, to $2,200.

Photo

EAST 78TH STREET The rent for a studio on the fifth floor of a walk-up building wasn’t bad. But the daily climb was going to be too much.

Credit
Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

With a week to go, Ms. Stanbury was growing anxious. “My mom felt terrible, and she said she would help me out for the first year,” she said.

In a small building on East 76th Street near York Avenue, she saw two apartments. They were actually one-bedrooms, relatively large but “not recently renovated,” Ms. Salibello said. Ms. Stanbury was interested in one for $2,150 a month, even though the bedroom faced a brick wall. But another applicant was ahead of her and likely to be accepted, Ms. Salibello said. The other apartment available, facing the noisy avenue, was $2,125 a month.

In both cases, nothing but a bed would fit in the bedroom, which is why Ms. Stanbury ultimately decided to opt for a studio. “I don’t like the fact of having a bed in a room and nothing else around me,” she said.

She turned down some fifth-floor walk-ups, including a studio on East 78th Street near First Avenue for a relatively low $1,935 a month. She didn’t mind the lengthy trek to and from the subway, but a high floor meant she would still face several flights of stairs. “I put my foot down and knew I didn’t want to be on a walk-up above the third floor,” she said.

On occasion, she was deceived by apartment numbers. She could safely assume that 5A was on the fifth floor, but an apartment numbered 14 could also be on the fifth floor.

Photo

UPPER EAST SIDE A studio in an elevator building with a separate kitchen was filled with light, which canceled out the prospect of street noise.

Credit
Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

The last place she saw was different from most others, and nicer. The rent was $2,200 a month.

The elevator building, in her target area, had a small basement laundry room. The rectangular studio included a separate kitchen and an entry hall lined with closets. Three windows admitted plenty of light — and Ms. Stanbury liked the light more than she disliked the street noise from the avenue below.

“She had to come to terms with what sacrifices she would make,” Ms. Salibello said. “Being on the avenue was something she was O.K. with.”

Ms. Stanbury signed the lease, with her stepfather as a guarantor, and moved in the nick of time. The broker’s fee was 13.5 percent of a year’s rent, or a bit more than $3,500.

She likes her new neighborhood more than her old. The financial district was boring, she said, with little street life and little sunlight. On the Upper East Side, “there are people and families and I’ve got plenty of places to choose from around me,” she said. “It’s making me want to be outside more.” She took out a membership at a nearby gym.

To combat traffic noise from the avenue while she is trying to sleep, she runs a white-noise machine. “No matter what time of day, I hear honking or the buses going by,” she said. “I have girlfriends who live on Second Avenue, and they say they would never do it again” — not because of the traffic noise, but because of the bar noise.

Inside, “I have neighbors but I don’t hear them,” she said. But her nose tells her there are a cat and a smoker nearby.

“I feel like if I had looked for two more weeks, I might have found something a little bit better for $2,200,” she said. “But I did the best I could making this my home the first time I am on my own in New York.”

Continue reading the main story



Source link

About admin

Check Also

The Right Way to Paint Your Apartment, According to a Pro

If you have water or mildew stains on your surfaces, buy a quick-drying alkyd or ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *