For the past few years, Brian Scaria, an aerospace engineer, has wanted to relocate from South Windsor, Connecticut, to New York City. When a transfer opportunity arose this fall he considered moving to Long Island City near his field office, or to Manhattan where the commute would still be reasonable. With deep concessions more widely available in Manhattan, he saw it as a now-or-never opportunity to live there for less than expected. He was represented by Michael Cohen, an agent at BOND New York. Here's his story.
I grew up in Connecticut and lived there my whole life. Over the past few years I asked my employer—who I've been with 14 years—if I could transfer to the NYC metro area. One of the options was to work out of a small field office at JetBlue in Long Island City, so although I'm working from my apartment right now, when Covid ends I'll go to work there.
When I was considering where to live, the commute was important to me. I was either going to look in Long Island City, the east side of Manhattan or maybe Brooklyn. I didn’t look in Brooklyn very seriously but I considered Long Island City and looked at several places there. The high-rise apartment buildings in Long Island City are gorgeous—all the amenities, the frills, they are all sparkling.
Then I started looking in Manhattan and I decided on Manhattan because the commute was still reasonable and there was just far more to do. Overall though, when I looked at it from 30,000 feet, I thought, I'm not that worried about the virus and rents are plummeting, making it the best time to live in Manhattan.
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From a decision making process it was cost, commute, and a now-or-never type thing. I settled on the Upper East Side, on a really nice one bedroom. Most of the places I was looking at offered a few months free. My landlord gave me two and a half months free. They were asking $2,500 gross rent with two and a half months free, which I negotiated to $2,400. Initially, navigating this was was a little bit confusing because I'd never done this before. I owned my place in Connecticut so I didn't have to deal with net and gross rent but once I understood it, I thought, "let’s try and negotiate something."
I didn’t pay a broker fee—it surprised me when I thought I’d have to pay it. And I was a bit worried about the advertised listings versus what you see when you walk in. Rental companies show an apartment online but in the fine print it’s not the actual apartment they are looking to rent. That happened a few times. Also, reading the fine print on the leases, there were some instances where it wasn’t quite two months free in spite of what they were saying.
I looked at about 10 apartments in Manhattan and looked at hundreds of others online. I was amazed at how many apartments were available. For Manhattan one bedrooms for $2,400, there were 4,700 apartments. The sheer volume was staggering. There was no shortage of apartments—you go on the map and the pins fill the entire screen. It was hard to select an apartment because there'd be five apartments on the same block.
I didn't have to compromise on my place. I didn’t need any frills but I wanted an elevator if I was going to be up more than two flights of stairs. I got that. I wanted laundry and did not need a doorman. I wanted to be near the subway but I didn't mind whether it was Upper East, Upper West, or Midtown. I hadn't appreciated how awesome this neighborhood for me truly is. I can walk to everything—the subway is right here, Central Park is right here and I can’t think of anything that’s not within a five minute walk.
Unless the city storms back and makes this great comeback in nine months and rents are legitimately going for $2,400, I’m not even considering paying the gross when my lease ends. I have no problem moving again if they try and increase it.
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