Tag Archives: New York City

How to Find an Apartment in New York City

Looking for a new home is not easy. In New York City, it is made infinitely harder by the fact that not only is everything more expensive, but compared to other parts of the country, your paying more money for less space.

After living in my last apartment for over a decade, it was time to find a new place to live. Along the way, I learned a few things and I would like to share the lessons I learned.

  1. Know your budget: Before you start any apartment search, it is imperative to know what you can and cannot afford in terms of rent. There is nothing worse than finding your dream home and realizing that it is out of financial reach. On the surface, the budget is the rent. However, there is also the security deposit, the realtor fee( see #3), the cost of moving (see #10), and other miscellaneous expenses that crop up along the way.
  2. Check your credit score: One of the things that a potential realtor and landlord will ask is your credit score. Even if everything else on your application is perfect, there is a chance that you may be rejected because of your past credit history.
  3. Working with a realtor: The upshot of working with a realtor is that they have access to multiple properties. Bear in mind, however, that if you make this decision and find an apartment that you love, there is likely to be a realtor free. Depending on the agency, the fee could be anywhere from 15% of one month’s rent to one to two months of rent. If you choose this path, I highly recommend that you do research and/or ask for recommendations. If they are legit, you will not pay anything until you say yes to the apartment.
  4. Use multiple sources: The more search options you use, the more apartments you will find. When I was looking, I used the advertised sites (Zillow, Streeteasy, etc), Facebook (both the market and groups), Nextdoor.com, and Craigslist. Just be aware that some ads on Craigslist can be a little on the shady side.
  5. Location: While you may want to live in Manhattan, be aware that the cost of rent is higher than other parts of the city. An example is of the Cash Jordan video below. I’ve seen similar units in Brooklyn that cost around $1500 instead of $2500.

6. Get to know your potential neighborhood (if you don’t know it already): Once you have narrowed down the neighborhood(s), it is time to get to know where you might be living. I recommend first using rentcity.co to learn more about the building. Then I used Google and Yelp to figure out where the stores are and how close the public transportation is. After you have seen the unit, take some time to walk around. Not just during the day, but also at night. The last thing you want is to be afraid to leave home after dark or come home after a late night out.

7. Amenities: They can be as simple as an elevator and/or laundry in the building. Or, they can be as fancy as high end finishes, in house gyms, doormen, roof decks, etc. What you have to remember that the more amenities a building offers, it is very likely that the rent will be higher.

8. Be firm, but flexible: I know this sounds like a contradiction, but hear me out. Whether or not you go through an agent or work with the building owners directly, there may be a fair amount of pressure to say yes. I can recall a number of times that I was told that the apartment would go fast and I had to make a decision ASAP. Know what you want, but be realistic. There will always be something to compromise on. The question is, what are you willing to let go of and what stays on your must have list?

9. Be patient: This is a learning process. You may find what you are looking for right away. It can happen. But, be aware that it takes time to put together an image of your next. It took me about six months to find my new apartment. Trust me when I say it was difficult and time consuming. You don’t want to sign a twelve month lease and realize two months in that your miserable.

10. Moving Company: Once you have signed the lease, the next step is figure out how you are going to transfer your belongings. There are two ways to go about this. The first is, if you don’t have a lot of stuff, rent a van and ask friends or family to help. A few years ago, I and a few others helped a couple of friends move. Our reward was free dinner. The second is to hire a moving company. The vetting process is similar to finding a realtor. What I found very helpful is that if you use Yelp, it is setup so that multiple moving companies are contacted in one sitting.

11. Organization is key: This is a messy, complicated process with a lot of details that if missed, could result in a major screwup. The only way to remain calm and in control is to be organized. I used Excel and added a new folder in my email just for this process. Someone else may have another way of going about it, but the point is not to panic and let everything that has to be done overwhelm you.

12. Be prepared to throw-out, sell, or donate: When your settled, you don’t think about how much stuff you have. That realization only comes when you have to start packing. Over the course of those six months, I did a deep dive and really had to think about what I wanted to take with me and what I no longer needed. There are multiple ways to go about doing this. I made several trips to Housing Works. Craigslist, Facebook, and Nextdoor.com also have features in which you can post listings for stuff you want to sell and/or donate.

To anyone going through this, I wish you luck. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is farther away than you would like it to be.

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Requiring the Covid Vaccine for all NYC Public Health Workers is Common Sense

When humanity was created by the heavenly parent upstairs, we were given the ability to make our decisions. Which, as we all know, has consequences. Some for the better, and some for the worst.

In New York City, only 60% of public health workers are vaccinated. In response to these numbers, the Mayor has announced that those who remain unvaccinated must either get the shot(s) or submit to weekly Covid-19 testing. In my mind, this is a no-brainer. It is also common sense. Those who work in this sector interact with the public as part of their jobs. The ease of which both the medical professionals and the patients can catch and spread the virus is mind blowing. If g-d forbid I get the virus, I can isolate for two weeks, keep it to myself, and still do my job from home. They can’t.

I understand the reason for the hesitation. Most vaccines take about a decade before it is released to the public. For obvious reasons, the Covid-19 vaccine was developed much faster. However, I would think that given where they work and the rising numbers of cases due to the Delta variant, why wouldn’t they get the shot? Frankly, it would easier to just get it done than submit to weekly testing.

If we would use our g-d given brains, we would have potentially stopped this disease a long time ago. But because we didn’t, people continue to get sick and more lives will be lost.

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My Unorthodox Life Review

Walking away from the family we were raised in and the world that we have known our entire lives is not easy. In the world of Orthodox Judaism, the term is called “off the derech“.

The new Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life, follows the life of former Orthodox Jew and businesswoman Julia Haart. Living in New York City with her second husband and three of her four children, the viewer is introduced to the tug of war between Haart’s previous life in Monsey and her current day to day life.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.

It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Flashback Friday: Doctor Strange (2016)

It has been said that when we enjoy our jobs, it does not feel like work. But that does not mean that we cannot get cocky.

In the 2016 MCU film, Doctor Strange (based on the comic book of the same name), Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a respected and egotistical New York City surgeon. After a debilitating car accident, he goes on a journey to seek out dimensions and ideas that go beyond the boundaries that humanity has created. Along the way, he becomes a hero, saving the world from Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).

I enjoyed this movie. I have not read the comic book, so I cannot speak to what may have been altered from the source material. What I did like was this version of the hero’s journey, the main character lives both within the world of superhero’s and the everyday person, who is flawed and fallible.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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The Room on Rue Amelie Book Review

When we make a choice, we never know what the consequences of that decision will be. We can only hope that it will turn out for the best.

In Kristin Harmel‘s 2018 book, The Room on Rue Amelie, Ruby is a young woman in the late 1930’s. Attending college in New York City, she meets and instantly falls in love with Marcel, a Frenchman from Paris. After the wedding, they move to Marcel’s hometown. At first it seems as they are in newlywedded bliss. But then World War II starts and their marriage is forever altered. The man she married and the man who stands in front of her are two different people.

After he is killed, Ruby discovers that her husband was part of the resistance. Picking up where he left off, she hides Allied soldiers who have landed in enemy territory. One of them is a RAF pilot who Ruby immediately connects with. She also takes in Charlotte, the young daughter of her Jewish neighbors who have been arrested. As the war continues on, the level of danger grows tenfold. They know they want to survive, but fate may have other plans.

I really enjoyed this book. Harmel’s story of love, resistance, fate, and hope is emotional and powerful. The relationship that kept me going was the one between Ruby and Charlotte. Their sisterly bond was the strongest among the characters, keeping them both going in a time when their circumstances could have easily broken them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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The Parting Glass Book Review

Within an upper-class or aristocratic household, the relationship between a member of the family and their valet or lady’s maid is a unique one. Though they are employer and employee, there is an emotional and physical bond that has the potential to go beyond the traditional bounds of the relationship.

The Parting Glass, by Gina Marie Guadagnino, was published in 2019. In the 1830s, in New York City, Mary Ballard’s job is that of lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, one of the most sought-after young women in society. But Mary is not who she says she is. Her real name is Maire O’Farren. Maire is an Irish immigrant who was forced to leave her homeland after being caught in a compromising position. On her nights off, she frequents the unseemly parts of the city, where she gets involved with a prostitute and drinks with friends who are part of an underground society.

Maire/Mary is caught in a bind. She is in love with her mistress, who is having an affair with Maire/Mary’s brother. When the shit hits the fan, she has a choice to make, which has the potential to result in heartbreak.

Starts at 13:22

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept of the narrative, blending a traditional historical novel with an LGBTQ protagonist and the reality of what it was to be an Irish immigrant during that time period. Though the middle of the story lags at moments, the ending is fantastic, and the details are nothing short of perfection.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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The Vandalization of Those Synagogues in NYC Will Not Change My Faith

Hate is akin to an insidious disease. It takes over you, changing everything about your world and how you see it.

Over the weekend, four different synagogues were vandalized in the Bronx in New York City.

Whomever these people are, if they think that this act will scare me into changing my faith, they have another thing coming. I could go on, but I am going to let two wise men speak instead. Their truths are more powerful than anything I could ever write.

Pin by Cheryl Harris-dowling on Inspirational quotes | Yoda quotes, Fear  leads to anger, Fear quotes

Though I am sure that the justice system will do it’s job, it may not be enough to change the perspective of the perpetrators. I say, drop them in Auschwitz for a night. Let the spirits of those who were murdered teach the ultimate lesson.

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15 People Were Shot in NYC This Weekend

When we talk about gun control, we generally talk about mass shootings. We don’t talk about individuals were injured or killed in this same manner.

This weekend, there were 15 people shot in 14 separate incidents in New York City. It is only Sunday morning. We still have another 12 hours or so before it is over.

In my mind, there are two equally important questions in this case.
  1. Where is Mayor de Blasio? What is he doing to keep us safe? Apparently nothing. Anyone living in the city knows that this is his last term in office. But that does not mean that he can be a limp noodle and rest on his laurels. He is still in charge and can affect change. Between sharp uptick of violent crimes and the attacks on the AAPI community, it makes me wonder if my sense of safety is nothing more than one incident away from being destroyed completely.
  2. Where are these weapons coming from? Most of them do not originate within NYC borders. Due to the fact that gun control laws vary from state to state, they can be transported from another part of the country. Which is another reason why a nationally recognized standard of vetting who can own a gun is vitally important.

I wish that I lived in a city and a country in which I would not turn on the news and be told that someone else in the hospital or in the morgue because they were killed by a gun. But until we have the balls to finally do something about it, this will continue to be a regular headline.

P.S. I hope this post does not deter any future visitors from spending time here, it is merely written out of frustration.

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In Five Years Book Review

One of the most common questions that come up during an interview is following: “Where would you like to be in five years?”. Some people would answer with a general idea of where they would like to be. Others have a very specific plan and follow it through to a T.

Rebecca Serle’s book, In Five Years, was published last year. Dannie Kohan’s life is just about perfect. She is newly engaged and has just accepted her dream job at one of New York’s most prestigious law firm. Her best friend, Bella is yin to Dannie’s yang. Bella lives for the moment while Dannie thrives on order.

The night after she has achieved it all, Dannie falls asleep on the couch. When she wakes up, she is in bed with another man and is living in another apartment. Though this dream only lasts an hour, she cannot shake the the feeling that the future she is planning will not pan out as she thinks it will.

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. It is easily one of best novels I have read in a long time. I was immediately hooked. It’s sort of a romantic dramady, but it goes beyond the cookie cutter narrative and characters. I loved how real the story felt, especially when Dannie realizes that when mortals plan, the creator above laughs.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Ask Dr. Ruth Movie Review

Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.

For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.

At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.

The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.

I absolutely recommend it.

Ask Dr. Ruth is available for streaming on Hulu.

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