Friday, April 06, 2007

Oh, the places you'd live

Surely someone out there has an apartment-hunting blog. This stuff is just too good to keep quiet about. Or maybe it's because I'm on such a high from it. I just love seeing new places, and imagining myself in them. I know I've written about my house dreams - the constant theme in my dreams of living spaces that grow and change and expand. (I wrote a poem in college that included the line "my house grows rooms to contain you." I never professed to be a poet.) I used to change my furniture around at least once a year; it was therapeutic, with more impact than a simple spring cleaning. The only reason I stopped was that I've gotten to the point where I have enough un-movable furniture (large bookcase, cabinet with fish tank that needs to be near the outlet, TV that needs to be near the cable line, etc.) that it's no longer possible.

More symptoms: I'm addicted to the Sims, but my favorite part is building the houses and decorating them. One of my favorite on-line games is "Open House" on, where you rearrange furniture on a grid to score points.

I've found real estate websites with floorplans that allow you to "try out" your furniture on them. I'm practically giddy.

Last night was an adventure. The owner was late, so by the time he showed, there were about eight or nine of us waiting. A few more couples trickled in as we were inside, but that was pretty much it. We saw four apartments, two one bedroom and two two bedroom, in varying states of upheaval. Seriously. One is in quite good condition (still occupied by a renter) with decent wood floors, appliances (a dishwasher!) and a relatively clean bathroom. It also had some interesting built-in shelving and cabinets in the bedroom. A two bedroom was reasonably decent, with some attention to the kitchen and bathroom it could be great. (But who are these people that move out of an apartment and don't bother to clean after themselves? Am I naive in expecting to see a bathroom without hair in the sink, dirt rings in the tub?)

Then there was a one bedroom with a really old kitchen and bathroom, plus dull wood floors. They looked structurally sound, though, so maybe after refinishing they'd be great. Mildew-looking stuff on the bathroom ceiling, that would have to be looked into. I could see myself in this place, although clearly at a lower price than they are asking (all of which, it was strongly hinted were negotiable. Prices have been set by size, so the bad is the same price as the good.)

Oh, the bad. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the apartment. People were taking photos with their cell phones, but I didn't think anything could capture the pure hell of this place. The occupant recently passed away after living there 35-40 years. During that time he apparently never cleaned. Although the apartment was relatively empty (a broken tattered mattress leaning against the bathroom wall, a rusted washer/dryer set in the kitchen an old rotary phone hanging on the wall), it was still vile. The kitchen walls were what initially looked like shiny orangey paint, and then you got closer and realized it was layers of splattered grease. The other rooms had yellow-brown walls; a mystery to me until the landlord said that the tenant had been a smoker. (It didn't smell, though.) I can't even think about the bathroom and kitchen fixtures. I think you'd have to just empty it out and start over.

But for someone with the right kind of inspiration, I can envision something great. The building is on a quaint brownstone block, close to everything. Okay, I fell a little bit in love with the block. One of the couples I met while waiting for the landlord said they currently lived right at the other edge of Atlantic Yards, hence their desire to move. They seemed confident this was far enough away to be unaffected (although what I've read of the years of street closings for construction, late night truck convoys, etc., would likely be a problem.)

That couple and two other guys (initially whom I assumed to be a couple, but learned were just friends, one along to help, both funny and chatty and gay-flirty) chatted a bit as we stood there waiting. Part of me was thinking, oh, these could be my neighbors! When we got inside, the one guy was extremely aggressive; either he's very interested or it's his nature to take control of the situation. Most of us stood around to listen to the answers to his questions. He was clearly interested in the two bedrooms, even spending more time in the disastrous one. I was relieved.

Because I think I am interested in one of the smaller. It's slightly smaller than what I have now, but almost anything in my price range is going to be. I could probably afford the larger ones, but am not sure I have the energy/desire to tackle a major renovation. On the other hand, I haven't seen that many places yet, and there are others listed that look good, too.

So what do I do? Well, I just emailed the landlord and told him I'm interested, that I am just starting my search, but wanted to get a sense of his timetable. And that I would like a chance to bring a family member/friend by next time he has a showing. It's possible he'll respond saying he's had offers already (although I think many of the people last night were disappointed or flat-out repulsed.) I don't know, but I feel pretty good about having stuck a toe in the water.


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