New York City. The city means something different to everyone, and that’s probably what makes it so great. Do I think it’s the greatest city in the world? Certainly not. But it does have its merits, even if there’s a lot of muck to truck through on the regular. But for all the ups and downs, the thing about New York is that it has a way of presenting you with opportunities you never thought you would have. The question is whether or not you’re ready or willing to seize them.
I love my current place, but after 4 years it was time for something new — 3 skyscrapers have been going up one block over, and now there’s a 40 story skyscraper going up right next to my building. Since I’ve moved into the building there’s been some kind of construction, and my newest neighbor is a nightmare of a baby that literally screams for the better part of each day.
So I’ve been on the hunt for 6 months. Six months of looking at places that are too small, too expensive, too far uptown, too far west, too dark, dismal, and depressing. My favorite nightmare listing was a $2600 4th floor walk up: you had to climb rickety stairs in a narrow mustard yellow stairwell to get to the apartment. The apartment was the size of a queen bed, a chair, and a desk. At the back of the building, with no light coming in the singular window. But it had an outdoor space — you could climb through a window and sit on somebody’s roof. Isn’t that lovely?
Just a few weeks ago I saw the perfect place. A dream — it was literally everything on my list, in the neighborhood that I wanted, with views of open sky and trees. Rent was a bit more than I had wanted to pay, but so it goes, I could make it work. But they said no. They weren’t interested in having me as a resident because I’m a freelancer and they viewed me as unemployed. BOOM. The door was slammed in my face, and I couldn’t even put an application on the apartment. The realtor was abrupt and apologized —- that’s just the way it is. There was no discussion, no negotiation. But would I like to see another apartment that was more money with smaller outdoor space? I passed, and told him I wasn’t interested in seeing anything else with him.
A few weeks after that I saw a very vague Craiglist ad. An apartment with a little bit of outdoor space, and from the photos it looked like it was in the same building as the dream apartment that apparently wasn’t meant to be. I sent an e-mail to ask if I could view it. The realtor got back to me right away. Would I like to see it that evening? Let’s do the next morning. I double checked where it was located, and the neighborhood seemed right, so maybe it actually was a different unit in the same building.
That next morning I tried canceling the appointment. I was exhausted from seeing other places and just needed a break. It’s a great apartment, you really should see it. The realtor wrote back right away. I asked him what floor it was on, and after I had an answer I though “Ok. Fine.” I’ll go look at it, even though I probably don’t even want it. I’ll just move to Miami or South Africa, I was thinking. I met the realtor out front, and before I knew it I was being ushered into the apartment of my dreams once again. An application had fallen through, it was back on the market at a much lower price, and would I like to submit an application?
Yes, yes I would like to submit an application. I sent over 23 pages of documents to prove that I was a suitable tenant. I wrote a personal statement introducing myself, talking about what I’m like as a person, and I even mentioned the plants I grow in my terrace garden. I sent over bank statements. And provided personal references. And they wanted more. And more. And more. It took a week, and it was only with a letter from my current landlord saying yes, I’ve paid my rent since 2011, that I was finally approved for the new place.
Friday I signed the lease, still unable to fully believe it all worked out. I don’t really believe in luck — I believe in doing your homework and knowing when to make the leap. Be daring: if you’re scared to make a move you then won’t go anywhere new. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to see opportunities, to recognize chances as they form around you. I believe in serendipity, in the power of persistence: sometimes things really are just meant to be, but you have to push for them to actually happen.
Photos courtesy Kristin Booker
To celebrate the new apartment, I’d like to pass along a bit of that city serendipity with a little giveaway. This is in partnership with Nakturnal, and (2) of you will each win a $100 gift certificate to East Dane. Right now there’s an awesome sale with a bunch of 50% Off Mens items. Soon enough it will be September, so be sure to check out the mens jeans, too.
Head to EastDane.com, browse a bit, and then come back here and comment with a link to your favorite item. Tell me why you like it, and I’ll pick (2) winners.
Contest closes Friday, and I’ll update this with the winners next Monday. Make sure I can get in touch with you!
The contest is open to my global readers, but if you’re located outside of the US, please note international shipping is free for orders of $100 or more, BUT any potential customs tariffs must be paid for by the winner. These vary greatly from country to country based on the items you purchase.