Help with NYC Apartment Hunting (In-Town Move, April 2013 Edition)
April 14, 2013 9:32 AM   Subscribe

I've been reading through all the New York apartment hunting threads, but I'm my own special snowflake...and I know how quickly things here can change.

I've been yapping about this problem to everyone, but it's time to post a formal question. So I landed in New York a few months ago and am living in South (Park) Slope with two other people that I found on Craigslist. The neighborhood is mostly fine, the apartment is mostly fine, but I hate the roommates. I've been asking around for people who might need roommates, but nothing solid has panned out so far, and I can't hack another round of Internet complete stranger roommates. So I'm going to start to look for my own place.

Question 1: Help me pick some neighborhoods
1. I want to spend no more than $1500 per month on rent. It is okay if utilities are on top of this.
2. My closet subway stop for work is 34th Street/Harold Square. (B, D, F, M, N, Q, R) I would like a door-to-door commute of no more than 30 minutes. 33rd Street is about equidistant (6). Prefer longer walk to train stop than longer train ride so I'll throw in Penn Station as doable (1,2,3).
3. I want to remain in Brooklyn.
4. I don't need any luxuries like a gym, doorman, elevator, laundry. I don't cook so I don't care about the age of the stove or a dishwasher, etc. But the apartment itself should be in good condition - no bug problems, no tub that hasn't been caulked since 1972, etc.. I'd prefer a real 1-bedroom to a studio. Quiet building is important. (I need refuge.)
5. Somewhat sketchy or transitioning neighborhoods do not bother me.
6. I do not need to live somewhere "cool" but I am 31, single, and active, so assume neighborhoods that have at least some bars and restaurants, I run in the park, don't care about it being family-friendly, etc.
7. I've been particularly charmed by neighborhoods that are a little more leafy like the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill area. (But Craigslist and Padmapper revealed virtually nothing to rent there and all of it far out of my price range.) I guess what's referred to as Brownstone Brooklyn.

I have a feeling these are all incompatible, but can you tell me if this is feasible and if so, recommend some neighborhoods? Let's say if they aren't I would first downgrade to studio, then ditch the green and leafy, then push my commute up to 45 minutes, then push up my budget by $200. The one thing on the list I will not bend on is staying in Brooklyn.

Question 2: How do I do this?
The roommate agreement I signed is up at the end of July. (I assume this is legally binding. Or is it? Maybe that's a whole other question, but I'd prefer to get out of here as soon as possible (UNLESS summer would give me a better rental market or it would be better to have extra time to apartment search), and I'm confused as to how she is doing this when she's mentioned that subletting isn't allowed by the landlord. Isn't renting out rooms subletting?) When should I start looking? I tend to be a bit on the picky/indecisive side. If I use a broker, is there only a certain amount of time or a certain number of places they will show me?

And speaking of a broker, do I really need to use one? That was the common wisdom I'd heard but now that I'm here I've met people with great apartments and when I asked them about how they found them they said they got lucky looking on Craig's List. But if I really need a broker, how do I find one? Can anyone recommend me one?

Thank you!
posted by unannihilated to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you need a broker. It would help a lot, but it's not necessary. Try looking at Bed-Stuy (some streets are gorgeous, some not so much) and Crown Heights near the Franklin A stop (you can transfer to the F at Jay Street). Also look at Ditmas and Kensington. I have friends there with good deals and there's a young professional scene blooming there.

You might have to stretch your commute a little longer than 30, but not by much depending on your proximity to the train. Just get some good books/podcasts.

Also try checking out the Stephanie Diamond list.

Regarding getting out of your agreement, just ask. If you don't like your roommates then they probably don't like you either and would be happy to work something out. Also, bailing is not unheard of. It would cost then more to recover the cost of you jumping ship in court than to just find another roommate, even with a legally-shaky agreement.
posted by greta simone at 10:01 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmmm. I'm actually moving out of a completely amazing apartment (no exaggeration, it's easily the nicest place I've ever lived, and was just renovated) in Carroll Gardens in June. It's $1325 including utilities, no roommates. Perhaps you'd be interested in it? It hasn't been shown yet. I feel like my landlady, who lives next door, is most interested in just finding someone she genuinely likes to live here. I found it on Craigslist. No broker, no fee. I'd recommend using Padmapper to get new listings right away. Good luck!
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:08 AM on April 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: three_red_balloons: Yes, I would.
posted by unannihilated at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kensington/Ditmas Park.

posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on April 14, 2013

You definitely don't need a broker though if you get one they won't limit the number of apartments they show you.

I love DP/Kensington--it's leafy and gorgeous, especially now-- but it will be more than a half hour commute. Probably 45 minutes along the Q, more if you are closer to the F.

Try Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill too (though the latter may run your budget up a little).
posted by mlle valentine at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Flatbush/Lefferts Gardens/Kensington -- anything on the Q/B line -- would probably be a good fit. It's great being so close to the park, and the trains are reliable during normal commuting hours. (However, note that the Q has had some pretty substantial service changes on late nights and weekends recently.) The rents have gone up, I'm sure, but two years ago I was in a big three bedroom that cost $1800 a month, about two blocks away from the Parkside Ave Q stop. Commute was a little longer than your ideal.

I'd also see what you can find in Sunset Park, specifically near the 36th Street stop on the N/R/D. The N and the D will both get you into the city pretty quickly during rush hour, and even on the weekends service from that station is super-reliable. My friends recently rented a small 2BR for about $1600, so if you can find a 1BR it should be right in your price range.

One note about Kensington: I don't know how much time you've spend on the F train, but in my experience it's often flakey as hell and makes a million stops in Brooklyn. If a quick, reliable commute is a priority, avoid having that be your only route into the city.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:27 AM on April 14, 2013

(the park in Sunset Park is small and not nearly so gorgeous as Prospect Park, but it has a gym you can join and there's a great public pool there in the summer.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:29 AM on April 14, 2013

Came in to suggest Lefferts as well- express train, leafy, right near p park, still many deals to be had.
posted by rmless at 10:40 AM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: So glad I posted this, as none of those are areas I'm familiar with. Thank you! Three_red_balloons, I sent you a PM.
posted by unannihilated at 10:47 AM on April 14, 2013

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