When the pandemic hit, Pedro, who was living with his parents on Long Island, realized he had an opportunity to land an apartment in New York City—a dream since he first visited the city at the age of five. He undertook an extensive apartment search and landed in Williamsburg—and in an apartment that looks out over the buildings that inspired him as a child. Here’s his story.
I was born in Portugal and moved to Long Island in second grade. I have been living with my parents in Selden, in Suffolk County—rent-free! My parents have a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home. Once I graduated college, I started helping out with things around the house, and paying for certain expenses like landscaping.
I enjoy living on Long Island and my favorite things to do here are try new restaurants, go to the beach, have bonfires at night, explore parks, nature preserves, and different parts of the island.
I currently work for LNC Holding Corp, a concrete contracting company based on Long Island. About 90 percent of our work is in the five boroughs. As a project manager, I go to the job sites and solve issues that come up in the field. Typically my commute was more than three hours round trip, three to five days a week, depending on the number of projects we had.
[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another—or outside the city. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]
Originally I planned to move out of my parents’ home in 2020, but when the pandemic hit, I decided to stay home for a while longer. Traffic was almost nonexistent, and my commute decreased to roughly two hours round trip. The workload decreased significantly so I traveled into the city less frequently.
In the winter I revisited the decision and started doing some research. I realized that I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to NYC. With rents soaring in Long Island and buildings desperately looking for tenants in NYC, I saw that I had way more leverage as a prospective tenant in NYC versus Long Island.
Find Your Next Home
I started looking in February and my search was pretty extensive. I knew some friends that owned apartments, so I first tried to see if I could sublet. But I realized there were a lot of concessions being offered, so I started searching rental listings sites. I must have looked at around 200+ different units, and then went in person to see around 50 units.
I looked at hundreds of listings because I wanted to see how the prices varied across the boroughs, how the amenities varied, and to truly figure out what those amenities were worth. I reached out to contacts that I had in construction and real estate to get as much information as I could. I would spend all week looking online, and then fill my Saturdays with showings. I brought friends and family so that I could get an outside perspective on the units. I repeated the process for approximately three weeks, until I felt that I had done enough research to make an informed decision.
My nonnegotiable requirements were: An in-unit laundry/dryer, on-site parking, a fitness center, and either a north-facing, or south-facing unit. I originally considered a two bedroom, so I could use one of the bedrooms as a guest bedroom/office space. But ultimately, a two bedroom with those requirements was too pricey, and I ended up focusing on one-bedroom apartments.
For any unit that I found online that matched my criteria, I would call the building’s leasing office, and try to set up an in-person showing. At The Dime, I spoke to Tanner McAuley and he helped me through the whole process. Tanner was very accommodating with multiple showings, conscientious about showing me units that matched what I was looking for, and helpful when it came to the application process.
The unit had a gross rent of $4,150 a month; however, they were offering a concession of three months free, which worked out to $3,320 net effective on a 15-month lease. Additionally, I negotiated to get amenity fees and parking fees waived for a few months by offering to start my lease immediately once I was approved.
The finishes in the building are superb, the appliances are high quality and the amenities are extensive. Coming from a construction background, it is really easy for me to spot cheaper finishes and appliances used to keep costs down, if the overall design and layout of an apartment wasn’t well thought out, or if the craftsmanship is subpar.
Another aspect I looked at was how many units were in the building. Although some buildings had more amenity space, they also had three to five times the number of units, so there were more people using those same amenities. The Dime was the perfect size for me because there are many amenities, but only around 100 units.
Since I was going to be living alone, and I am young and single, I definitely wanted a neighborhood where I could go out and meet people. Williamsburg has a positive, upbeat energy and that really caught my attention. Other neighborhoods felt too busy or quiet, and I did not feel like I had as many opportunities to meet people.
I now have many restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other stores within a few blocks. On Long Island, I would have to drive anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to get access to all those different things, and they are not necessarily near each another.
I love the fact that whether I want American, Mediterranean, Thai, Indian, Mexican, or Japanese, it is all within a few blocks. I recently tried Moroccan food from Cafe Mogador, which I absolutely loved. Also, it is super convenient that there is a grocery store (Mr. Pina), and a Chase bank right around the corner from me on Havemeyer St. Also, on Havemeyer, there is a bagel store, Have A Bagel, where I go to almost every morning.
Williamsburg motivates me and inspires me to push myself farther in my life and career. I am aware that I will miss the quiet neighborhoods, the beaches, and all the access to nature on Long Island, but that is always an hour drive away. For now, I want to keep growing, networking, and to explore all Williamsburg and the surrounding neighborhoods have to offer. I am looking at the summer very positively, and believe that it will be an extremely fun season. People in my age group are desperate to be able to go out and enjoy themselves.
A few friends, my boss, and some coworkers have visited my new place so far. They all absolutely loved the space, and find the views incredible. Additionally, they all were stunned by the views from the 22nd floor lounge. It is breathtaking to say the least. They all have felt that the space is perfect for a single person, loved the amenities, and that the space reflects who I am as a person. I am planning on hosting my immediate family over for a lunch in the coming weeks, but I want to have the apartment fully furnished and complete, so that I can show them the finished product.
Finally, living in NYC is very meaningful for me. I was born in Portugal, and I will never forget the first time that I went to NYC. I was about five years old and I remember tilting my head back as far as it would go to try and look at the tops of buildings. That sparked a passion for construction for me.
I went to college for civil engineering and got a bachelor’s degree in structural design. I was incredibly curious to figure out how humans were able to design and propel these massive structures into the sky. Once I got to the end of college, I knew I wanted to see those designs brought to life, so I went into project management.
Every day I learn more of the answers to the questions I had as a five year old staring at those buildings. And now I look from the 19th floor window of my Williamsburg apartment at some of the same buildings that I peered up at as a child.
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