NYC real estate advice - when to move?
January 19, 2017 9:35 PM   Subscribe

i've been approved for a good-sized, mostly affordable apartment in a neighborhood that i love. moving in will conflict with an especially busy time at work and will entail breaking my current lease (and some attendant expense). but it's a neighborhood that i've lived in before and love. should i take it?

i lived in the same apartment in boerum hill in brooklyn for 17 years before finally being priced out in 2014. i loved living there - access to shops and restaurants, lots of transportation, jogging on the brooklyn bridge, etc. it felt like home, after all those years. i moved with sad resignation, grateful for the time that i was able to spend there.

i landed in bed-stuy, in a pretty cool apartment. the neighborhood has its charms but its nowhere near as easy or nice as boerum hill (i'm dependent on the a/c trains; although the restaurant/bar situation is improving it still leaves a bit to be desired; and i was mugged last year).

i've always harbored dreams of moving back to boerum hill, although i generally relegated them to dream status on account of the skyrocketing rents. but i'd keep a casual eye on streeteasy to see if something arose.

part of the problem is that i'm 46 (ie would really rather avoid non-romantic roommates) and a professional musician - so i'm around the apartment a lot and i have a lot of gear. i not only want an affordable apartment in a nice neighborhood, i want a big and affordable apartment in a nice neighborhood. not asking too much, right?

now, i'm just about to start a new gig, on broadway, where things will be impossibly intense through mid-march. this is all good - i really like my job and am excited about it. i just need to prepare to have very little flexibility for the next 6 weeks. also, although we all have reason to believe that this new show is going to do pretty well, no one can say for sure. there are no guarantees for how long i'll be employed. that said, i've been at this racket for about 15 years, so i'm a known quantity - you can't take work for granted, but i'm also not a newcomer. and that works in my favor, work-wise. in the eventuality that new gig ends earlier than we all hope.

anyway, on one of my casual glances at streeteasy, i found the impossible - an apartment in boerum hill for an amount that is doable albeit at the high end of things for me (about 30% more than i'm paying now) but i think i can still swing. the apartment itself is nice, but just that - it's not a mind-blower, love-at-first-sight situation. it definitely has enough room for me and my guitars. it's perfectly located - it's around the corner from the beloved address i lived at for 17 years!

the problem is that the move date lands right in the middle of my intense work schedule, of course. and more frustratingly, the whole situation reeks a bit of impulse - i'm accustomed to thinking of nyc real estate and a sisyphean struggle, whereas this just fell in my lap. surely i can't be THAT lucky, can i? also - although i think i can swing the rent now, as it increases over the years it will become unfeasible before too long - and then i'll likely need to move again.

so i'm struggling with how to juggle all of these things. totally doable apartment for acceptable rent in a fantastic neighborhood at a shitty time... or else sit tight, give myself some breathing room, look around a little longer, and wait to pull the trigger - even at the expense of moving back to my most desired neighborhood. and i'm feeling a little overwhelmed by it all! does this make sense? do you good people have any objectivity and/or wisdom to offer me?
posted by fingers_of_fire to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
About three-quarters of this question isn't actually the question. It seems like the question is "should I NOT move to a decent apartment in a neighborhood I love and have always dreamed of moving back to because it will be slightly logistically difficult?" to which my answer is JUST MOVE ALREADY! You can hire movers to help with the move if your show makes it difficult. You can move again in a few years if you get priced out. It's clear from this question that you'd be happier there so just do it! Don't give up a lucky find just because it was lucky.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:01 PM on January 19, 2017 [6 favorites]

My rule of thumb in NYC real estate is, if you like it, always say yes. Everyone has a list of apartments that got away.

Hire movers to pack and even unpack your stuff (this is a thing that exists). Or - since you have to break a lease anyhow - say yes, alert your current landlord in the hopes that they can find someone to pick up your lease so you're not out any extra money, and then wait to move until the 6 week busy stretch is up.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. But that doesn't mean you're not adequately assessing it as perfect for what you're looking for.
posted by Mchelly at 10:07 PM on January 19, 2017

Do the move. Make it happen.

90% of being happy in NYC is loving where you live. The shitty time will pass, and then you'll be in your great new apartment.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:29 AM on January 20, 2017

If you had a steady daytime job, I'd be more inclined to tell you to take the apartment. I know what it is to love a neighborhood and be priced out of it. It sounds, however, like you can get good work, but not necessarily regular work. So it's risky to move to an apartment that's already north of what you consider affordable. (Could you maybe say what percentage of your gross income the rent would be?) Sorry if you've already done this, but I think you should scrutinize your income very carefully and come up with a conservative, no-cheating estimate based on past income and the current trend and see if you can budget realistically with the proposed rent based on that. Moving in the city is stupid expensive and you don't want to inflict those costs on yourself twice in rapid succession.
posted by praemunire at 9:14 AM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the Boerum Hill apartment is not rent stabilized and the Bed Stuy one maybe is and maybe isn't. I moved two years ago in Brooklyn specifically to get a rent stabilized apartment, and there's no way I'd leave it now for one that was not rent stabilized.

I would also be leery of moving into an apartment you can afford now but can already forsee the time when you couldn't afford it. I have no idea what it's going to be like finding an apartment in Brooklyn in 3 or 4 years, and I certainly would not like to find out. I think the chances of your current neighborhoold developing many of the amenities you miss since moving from Boerum Hill are far greater than the chances of you finding an apartment you can afford anywhere in Brooklyn that's as good as the deal you have in Bed Stuy if you have to move in 2022.

I would stay put.
posted by layceepee at 10:51 AM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

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