Budget accomodation accessible to Sunnyside for December & January.
March 8, 2019 8:05 PM   Subscribe

You may remember my last question. We've looked and looked and looked and it doesn't seem like a swap for our urban Sydney home will happen with a NYC place. We're resigned to having to rent a room or basement from someone. We need advice. Previously.

We've joined every website and facebook group we could think of and it seems the dates are the problem or the length of time. Now we need to find a sensible way to give some money to someone/org/dive hotel so we can stay in a very small space near Sunnyside.

A few conversations got confusing on Sabbatical Homes etc as exact terminology is deceptively similar. They may have been using concepts that I didn't understand the meaning of, so any scripts you can help us with would really help. (Do we really want to sub let? Are NYCians really formal with arrangements like this? Are co-ops someething to be scared of? )

I certainly know Australians living in good sized homes who'd love to get a bit of extra cash for their spare room/basement at Christmas and I know some very cheap (probably slightly unsavoury) hotels and that would do deals. Are there reasons it would be prohibited or weird to NYorkers?

In trying to navigate this I have a few immediate questions.
Is there a reason some ultra budget hotels don't seem to take bookings for more than 30 days in NYC? (We can't seem to get a ball park from google unless we look at the $12k on air bnb!) If I found an affordable place, hypothetically friends of mine want to come meet me for the third month (February) while my family goes home, does that change how I search or where I look? I've seen reasonably affordable empty apartments listed by agents, but would they rent to us for 2-3 months? (Airbeds and sleeping bags?) Are we looking for something that doesn't exist or are there more affordable suburbs that would be easy to access from Sunnyside I should search for? Basalganglia's suggestion in my last AskMe to look for active retirees was as really good one, but I couldn't find where they hang. Maybe they don't want a family in their home? If mods don't mind I'll answer any questions you have to help me clarify what I'm looking for. I'd also love suggestions on what to write on our listings to make them as seductive as possible!
posted by taff to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What if you divided it into shorter stays in different homes? I wonder if people are hesitant about your proposal because renters gain tenant rights after 30 days and can then refuse to leave and pull all sorts of shenanigans.
posted by dum spiro spero at 8:19 PM on March 8, 2019

You can try searching on leasebreak. If you have contacts in NYC who work for large companies/organizations, also ask them if there's some sort of internal mailing list for housing. What's your budget?

You're probably looking at a sublet for a short stay. There is a way to do it formally, but I've never gone through the process, so someone else will have to chime in . Renting from a co-op means there's a longer approval process (online says up to 30 days, also there might be an interview, and they'll want more financial documentation) because the board needs to approve the application.

For Sunnyside, if you're taking the subway, look into neighbourhoods along the 7 train. Typically, the further east you go, the cheaper it will get.
posted by airmail at 8:46 PM on March 8, 2019

renters gain tenant rights after 30 days and can then refuse to leave and pull all sorts of shenanigans.

This is not correct for NYC. In fact, in many situations (i.e., virtually all apartment buildings), renting for under 30 days would be illegal. (Real estate laws and especially housing laws tend to be some of the most jurisdiction-dependent.)

Speaking of jurisdiction-dependency, I'm not sure how sublets would be different in Australia than in the U.S....why wouldn't you want to sublet? If the unit/house isn't owner-occupied, what else would you be planning to do? If it is, I'm not sure why you would be expecting anyone to rent you space in their own home for an extended period without a lease. Basically, if you're going into someone's house, whether as a tenant or a subtenant, you should be prepared to sign paperwork.

If a landlord is looking for a short-term lease, it will ordinarily be indicated in the listing. It's not surprising to me that you can't find advertisements for short-term leases on ordinary housing lists (as opposed to VRBO or whatever) this far in advance, as ordinarily rentals are listed at or near the beginning of the previous month. But I've never noticed their being particularly plentiful.

A co-op is just another form of ownership. It's likely that a co-op sublet will require board approval, which may be difficult to obtain from overseas.

I would expect people to be put off by the suggestion of friend-of-a-friend arrangements.

I would also be a little reluctant to bring children to an extremely inexpensive hotel in outer Queens, to be honest.
posted by praemunire at 8:48 PM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do we really want to sub let?
Yes. You sign a contract saying you are legally renting the place for your length of stay. It's in everyone's interest. The only reason you wouldn't want to do this is you're thinking you'll get there and want to leave for some reason / back out of your agreement.

Are NYCians really formal with arrangements like this?
I would say most Americans are, yes. It's not that they're being formal so much as this is what's expected. Many Americans would find someone unwilling to sign a lease a suspect tenant.

Are co-ops something to be scared of?
No. Co-ops may have rules you need to abide by. Just be aware of what they ask. Co-ops may have a say in whether or not someone can stay for an extended period in an apartment. As long as you're not a problem, the Co-op board is usually not a problem.

I certainly know Australians living in good sized homes who'd love to get a bit of extra cash for their spare room/basement at Christmas and I know some very cheap (probably slightly unsavoury) hotels and that would do deals. Are there reasons it would be prohibited or weird to NYorkers?

It sort of sounds weird to me, just because I'm not familiar with the arrangement. I'll bet you could contact some people through AirBnB that would be interested. It's just something many people don't think about.

I lived in New York for 15 years. I'm not familiar with Sunnyside in the same way I am as if you mentioned Queens or the Bronx or something. I looked it up quickly and it looks, to me, like a Long Island suburb / semi-urban area. I just want to help you set your expectations, you'll be close to New York City, but it will be a short train trip. You won't be living in "New York City" as you may think of it. Long Island is it's own state in some ways. If you're not set on Sunnyside, maybe consider Hoboken, in New Jersey? NYC is just a subway ride away.
posted by xammerboy at 8:55 PM on March 8, 2019

Another option might be residential hotels (there may be other names for this). Businesses that relocate employees use these heavily. They're hotels with full kitchens.
posted by k8t at 9:22 PM on March 8, 2019

I don't know how “explainey” you're getting in your outreach elsewhere, but I think you might have luck being concise in your Craigslist posts, inquiry emails, etc.:
“My family of [# of people] is looking for a short-term rental or sublet in or near Sunnyside, Queens, for [start month] – [end month]. Our budget is up to $[amount].”
posted by D.Billy at 9:24 PM on March 8, 2019

Sunnyside is part of Queens and thus of NYC. It's just east of Long Island City (which, OP, just for your extra confusion, is part of NYC, not Long Island...).

I'm assuming OP doesn't have the budget for an extended-stay hotel because otherwise surely that would be the first choice if you couldn't get a swap.
posted by praemunire at 9:30 PM on March 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Do not bring your family to a dive hotel in Queens. New York is one of the most relentlessly “you get what you pay for” places in the country and you will not have a safe or enjoyable time if you are staying in those accomodations. It seems from your last ask like grandma lives in Sunnyside and is the big reason for the trip. Can you send your kid to stay with grandma? I presume that you can’t all crash at her place...is that true?
posted by cakelite at 9:41 PM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sadly Grandma lives in a tiny place with my sister in law, and brother in law, and their toddler. There isn't much room for our kids. And yeah, we hadn't budgeted for this, it's a trip we can ill afford, but it is vital we go for *reasons*. Concise is probably a thing I don't do well when tired. Great point there though, thank you. As we've previously done Sabbatical Homes and used all the professional reference checks I guess I was speaking a little casually. But yes, we are happy to meet any checks people might ask us to make. I was wondering if a B&B or bedsit, studio was a thing... but these seem not to be words I'm seeing in listings. I say dive hotel because that's a term I've read but I don't know how bad that might be.

When I was a teenager our family did a Sabbatical in Europe and part of that was staying in Sorbonne student digs. It was very humble and that's the kind of thing I'd love for us( wrong academic period though), but it would have to be someone prepared to ignore that there were at times 2 kids in the room. I'm sure we'll only be back there to sleep as the reason for going is Grandma.

Thanks for your thoughts so far. I won't chime in again unless absolutely necessary. But I'll take all advice and critisicm and leads and corrections. Thank you possums!
posted by taff at 10:27 PM on March 8, 2019

I know you said 'no budget' in your last post but I guess looking for dive hotels etc, there must be some minimal budget to work off?

If you are open to exchanging some work for somewhere to stay, you might try Help Exchange. At a quick glance, there are at least some in NYC, some are ok with families. I had a friend who used it in Australia as a way helping get her housework, gardening and sometimes childcare done. In exchange, she provided a room and some food, in a very desirable inner-city area of Melbourne. But this wouldn't work if you are planning to spend all your time with your relatives.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:20 AM on March 9, 2019

In your position I would definitely Airbnb it, and not bother with anything else. There are usually lots of cheap options if you're willing to stay in a non-'pretty' place thats a bit harder to get to. But I assume there's some reason you dont want to do that, in which case you're definitely going to be looking for a sublet. In that case, you kind of have a lot stacked against you:

There is so much constant demand in NYC that people can afford to be very picky, and they will basically always choose the most simple, straighforward, uncomplicated tenant to sublet to. With all that choice, and with all the single people in NYC, it sounds harsh but why would someone want to deal with kids in their place if they didn't have to? More wear and tear, more noise, etc. Even couples find it very hard to sublet a room in someone's apt or home. Each added person adds exponentially to the hassle of having someone in your space, and life in NYC is filled with enough hassles. I dont mean to be doom and gloom, but there are two other big issues here that are working against you: 1) you arent here to do all this in person. People want to meet the people they're renting to, and know that they've seen the space and wont suddenly back out at the last second. I would very rarely sublet to someone site unseen. 2) apartment renting and subletting usually happens extremely last-minute here in my experience, as in the last two weeks of the month. Arranging anything in advance would be more difficult. But maybe deep Queens is less rapid-fire than Brooklyn, which seems plausible. I still think you can find something though!

Oh and budget hotels in Queens/BK are a total sketch-fest unless someone can point you to an unusual, specific one that they have personal experience with.) I wouldnt waste any time on that option.

Basically, I'd reframe your whole thing into a simple mission (assuming Airbnb isnt an option): find a 3 month sublet for your family in Queens, on the same subway line as Grandma. Minimalist/spartan accomodation acceptable. 1bedroom or studio if you can physically fit. Emphasize that you will all be gone all day, and will be strictly using the place to sleep.

You'll want to head straight to the sublet section of any website you're looking at (they may or may not make you sign anything-- I never had my tenants sign sublease contracts personally.) It's an uphill battle, but I think you'll find something! But again, Airbnb is probably going to be the simplest solution here.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:07 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

"Dive hotels" are to be avoided! They are often full of drama you and your kids don't need, think drugs and prostitution. Have you tried reaching out to the Australian consulate or UN mission to see if anyone there would be needing a temporary place in Sydney for a few months? I wonder if any online Australian expats in NYC might help, I just googled those terms and came up with this one.
posted by mareli at 5:36 AM on March 9, 2019

Look into Nassau county sublets near train stations. You can take the commuter rail to Woodside, which is adjacent to Sunnyside
posted by sandmanwv at 6:21 AM on March 9, 2019

Could you also enlist Grandma, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law's help to look for a place? There are some housing arrangements that will never be posted online, but if we're talking about longtime members of the community looking for a place for their relatives, you might come across a friend of a friend who's willing to help. Because of the personal connection, people will likely be more comfortable with the international w/ kids aspect.
posted by airmail at 6:30 AM on March 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Disregard xammerboy's last paragraph. Sunnyside is about as close to midtown Manhattan / Times Square as you can get without being in Manhattan. It's a 20 minute ride on the 7 train.
posted by valeries at 7:50 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question two years ago about a short-term rental in Miami and with some luck ultimately found a place on Craigslist. But I think we're too far out now for Craigslist to work for you. If you were willing to take a risk, I think you could maybe find a suitable place on Craigslist in October or November.

Some googling around leads to some useful articles on short-term NYC rentals: 1 2 3. Leasebreak.com seems like the most promising site in your price range, but we're still talking minimum $1.8k/month.

There are plenty of places available on Airbnb in the $2.5k/month and up range, so I'm not sure what kind of budget you have now in mind. I think you may be thinking that your experience in Sydney should give you some insight into NYC, but my suspicion is that it doesn't, e.g. rents in Sydney are 65% cheaper than in NYC. Plus, short-term rentals are always more expensive than long-term rentals (all else being equal a landlord would prefer the stability of a long-term rental).

The only other alternative that comes to mind is that your dates are when 'snowbirds' leave the frozen Northeast for a few months in warmer climes. Often they own their homes up North and simply leave them empty while gone. Ideally you would be able to find someone willing to rent their home to you or have you as a housesitter, but I think that might be tough -- people leave their homes empty to minimize hassle, and a family with kids is the opposite of no-hassle. Still, it might be worth pursuing.

It's hard to say what went wrong in your conversations about Sabbatical Homes without more details. Yes, Americans tend to be formal about even short-term leases (are Australians not?!), B&Bs and bedsits don't really exist in the US, studios do (but I don't know how different from Australia), you were very fortunate with your Sorbonne stay as a child (which the French government was probably subsidizing: humble but clean and pleasant spaces cost money).
posted by crazy with stars at 11:13 AM on March 9, 2019

I just memailed you. Short answer though, in case others are reading this down the road, is focus your search on nyc craigslist's "temporary housing" section, and airbnbs. Also, forgot to mention in my message, there is an email list called "the listings project" for rentals offered/wanted.. You might subscribe to that and/or put an advertisment there. However, Craiglist and Airbnb are much more widely known/used.
posted by elgee at 6:26 AM on March 10, 2019

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