Author Topic: Small 'Stach, Big Apple  (Read 4191 times)

trailsend

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Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« on: August 29, 2012, 03:24:35 PM »
Hello all!

I've been reading MMM for a while (found it through ERE, which I started reading last year). The timing is great—I just graduated last June, and am just now moving to NYC to start a fairly-well-paying software job. I resonate with a lot of the MMM/ERE philosophy and aim to hit FI in the next few years.

First obstacle: NYC housing. I had hoped to land a room rental in the $800 range, preferably in Manhattan somewhere under 69th to save on transportation. I had anticipated that the only way to make that happen would be to have one or several roommates, but I'm hesitant to jump in with a complete stranger while I'm also figuring out a new city and also figuring out a new job and whathaveyou.

My company has a meager relocation package which includes a rental/broker service, so I've been touring around the island the past few days looking at studios (broker gaped a little when I told her "I really like small spaces, so I don't want anything too big", and then again when we walked into a sizeable studio and I told her it was a little too big for me...apparently that's strange?). The trick is, everything is well out of the range I'd really like to be paying.

There's one property available now (or at least, it was as of a few hours ago) for about double what I would like—which I could afford, barely. It's important to me to pay off all of my student loans this year, which (all expenses considered) I could do while living at this place, but with just a few grand left over for saving. Then next year I would hopefully be in a position to move in with a roommate I had gotten to know, thus having much lower expenses and no student loans to pay off, so the 'stach could start growing at about the rate I would like.

How's that for a plan? Are there other safe/reliable routes I should be taking to find housing closer to the range I'd like? (I really don't need a lot of space, and I'm happy to room with someone, but to be living in such close quarters I'd want to have some way of vetting them first.) I'm hoping to find a place this week, so I don't have to deal with it when I start work next week.

Also, if any other NYC Mustachians have any survival tips, I'd appreciate them muchly! Thanks.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2012, 03:34:53 PM »
I have friends (artist and performers) in NYC. It is possible to save and prosper. It just takes a bit of work. I know a couple who last year bought their first flat on two airline attendants salaries. ...Guesstimate that they make together what you make alone.

One popular option is to rent the apt to tourists for one week a month to cover your rent for the month. It works incredibly well for kids who travel a lot (airline attendants, traveling performers), but i imagine with a bit of creativity you could make it work, too.

Good luck

$_gone_amok

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2012, 04:10:43 PM »
You should buy the unlimited ride MetroCard so your commute should cost the same regardless where you live. Have you looked at Brooklyn and above 69 on the upper west side?

edit: The reason I suggested upper west side is that you can find Columbia students to share housing with. There are a lots of cheaper and smaller places near Amsterdam between 102 and 112.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2012, 04:13:39 PM by $_gone_amok »

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2012, 04:13:48 PM »
You are unlikely to find a room share for that amount below 69th.  I would try above 110th or in Astoria.  Same metrocad.

James

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2012, 04:42:40 PM »
Have you been firm with your broker?  I suggest saying you will not consider any place above X price.  Make them work for the commission and put them in the spot of having to really search out what is available instead of just feeding you all the normal places.  I imagine they do the best if you rent in certain places or at a higher price, so it may take some really strong words to force the issue.

I would also work on finding out how the "locals" find rentals.  I would bet the little small unique places are probably found by word of mouth rather than through brokers.

Finally, maybe try finding someplace for the very short term.  If you could find someplace to stay for just a month or two it would give you time to figure out the system and where you really want to be, without the big hassle of a full move.

Good luck, sounds like you have the right idea in mind, just don't let go of those ideals since the pressure to conform to the systems there will be immense.

mustachecat

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 04:46:45 PM »
Echoing other commenters to say that yes, $800/month is going to be insanely hard within your boundaries, unless you hit the housing jackpot. Definitely possible in the 100s, especially the further up you go. Commuting from Brooklyn is no big deal, and you'd find something easily. It's also silly to live in New York without an unlimited MetroCard. Most companies will let you buy them pre-tax, so it comes out to less than the $104 face price.

I think living with unknown roommates is sort of a New York ritual. It's never worked out badly for me. If you're really uncertain, you could try a short sublet with a roommate--that way, you can get settled in the city, but have an escape hatch to find something permanent when you have a larger social network here.

Chinatown is amazing for groceries and $1-for-five dumplings. Brokelyn.com is great for free and cheap Brooklyn events/happy hours/open bars/etc. Uniqlo is great for well-made clothing, and they're always running something on sale. If you're fashion-conscious, Beacon's Closet is the best resale place in town. Fishs Eddy has awesome cheap kitchenware--a little more expensive than Ikea, but a hundred times nicer. And, of course, craigslist and freecycle are great resources for furniture and housewares, but check for bedbugs.

Welcome to New York! It's an amazing, terrifying, and weirdly generous city.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2012, 07:40:39 AM »
I've lived in NYC for about 12 years, so if you need any advice on neighborhoods let me know.  My favorite cheap neighborhood is Astoria on Ditmars.  Cheap dry-cleaning, a great commute to midtown and lots of fun people.

The broker may not have any listings in Astoria, so try the rooms for rent section of Craigslist, and Roommates.com

mechanic baird

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 11:05:27 AM »
Your price range is pretty insane for the location you wanted. I worked at World Financial Center in the late 90's and earlier 2000's and had $750 budget for housing. I had to go all the way into Jersey to find a run down studio with roaches everywhere cuz I wanted to live alone.. That didn't last long. But I did manage to find a quarter in Chinatown to share with some illegals. They worked 20 hours a day anyway so that suited me..

If you wanna pay down debt, you gotta suck it up on the life quality part of the equation.. Just remember, by putting in some harsh time in your younger age will reap you tremendous reward down the road..

trailsend

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2012, 12:41:52 AM »
Quote from: kisserofsinners
One popular option is to rent the apt to tourists for one week a month to cover your rent for the month. It works incredibly well for kids who travel a lot (airline attendants, traveling performers), but i imagine with a bit of creativity you could make it work, too.
Isn't that illegal, though? How do you do it legally?

If you wanna pay down debt, you gotta suck it up on the life quality part of the equation.. Just remember, by putting in some harsh time in your younger age will reap you tremendous reward down the road..
People keep telling me this, but I still don't really get it. I don't like living in big spaces (you have to clean more, and it attracts things you don't need), I don't like eating at restaurants (you pay someone else to do the fun part for you), I don't like going out to movies (chatting with friends is against the rules)...as far as I can tell, if I could find a roommate (which I would like more than living alone anyway) to split a nice small flat with, I'd be having a fantastically good time while also paying off debt. So then I get paranoid, waiting for this unknown bullet that I'm going to have to bite somewhere.

Thanks for all of the great advice, everyone! I've expanded my radius (helped by the new bit of info that my office has lockers and showers, making running to work feasible!) into Brooklyn and Astoria and started emailing more potential roommates from craigslist and other web services. No responses so far, though; maybe my craigslist etiquette is off. In your experience, what response rate have you gotten from craigslist inquiries?

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Small 'Stach, Big Apple
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2012, 09:49:18 AM »
Here is my standard looking for a room email to someone who is renting one out.  And even if you don't want a large place, you'll never find something in Manhattan to share for $800 a month.  ALL the places there are tiny and often people spend $1100+ each to split one room.

My name is [  ] and I'm looking to rent a room in an apartment in [ ] by [  ].  I am 27/f and work [ ] near [ ].  I like to play [  ], [  ], watch movies, and hang out with friends.  I am neat, very responsible about bills and would like to have a [nice, quiet living situation] when I am at home.  Currently, I live in [  ], but the commute is a little bit far.  Please let me know if you'd like to show me the apartment.  I am available during the week at [ ]pm if you have time then.

Thank you very much!