I found my first NYC apartment while lying in my bed perusing Craigslist. At the time I was still living in my childhood home in Macungie, PA, near Allentown. With my nanny job wrapping up, I saw no reason to stay for two more months in the place I’d wanted to permanently leave for so long. Everyone thought I was crazy to move to the city two months before school began; I thought they were crazy for suggesting to wait until August.
Let me just say I was very lucky. I know that. I found a beautiful, one-bedroom apartment in a nice Harlem neighborhood for a one-month sublet. It was perfect. Everyone always says finding an apartment in NYC is so complicated and dangerous what with all the slumlords and con artists. So it’s only fair that my second apartment would be a complete disaster. A (secretly) bedbug-infested, poorly (illegally) renovated disaster of an apartment that should have had its own special on Dateline…along with the rest of our condemned building.
Before I explain how I fell for the site of Bedbug Bonnaroo, I’d like to make the following PSA: If you ever meet someone who says they have bedbugs. DO NOT immediately lean away from them looking disgusted. This does not help. Bedbugs are like lice – even the cleanest apartments can get them. They’re everywhere. Subways, restaurants, it’s called an outbreak for a reason. Or in my case, they have already set up camp and are waiting for their next victim. So, leaning away from someone who is I guarantee already having a worse day than you, (unless you yourself have lice and had to shave your head) will not help anyone. Except you. It will help you. It will help you look like an asshat. I’m talking to you, bitch in my Monday class who overheard me tell my friend I’ve been sleeping on a couch for two months and got up and moved from the seat she’s been sitting in all semester. You suck.
So how did I end up in an apartment with bedbugs, cabinets falling off, illegal renovations, poor plumbing, and of course the shittiest of shitty management companies? The same reason I succumbed to every wish of the gay best friend I was in love with for the majority of high school: Desperation.
In February after graduating, I made plans with a friend from college to live together in Brooklyn. She was currently attending NYU and we both wanted to be cool Brooklynites together so it made sense. Well, my friend was so popular that three other people wanted to live with us. Ok, no problem. Five of us in a Brooklyn house. Sounds like a less-funny version of Girls. Well we went from five to four pretty quickly, and then right back to five as a family friend decided to move to Brooklyn and asked to join our housing group. We used one of the girls’ co-worker’s spouse’s broker companies (that was not a joke) and found a beautifully renovated house along the J and Z trains. I figured with J Z near by, it had to be a good omen…but this house was more of a Kanye than a Jay Z. And by that, I mean the owner never let us finish. He decided to sell instead of renting. A good call on his part, horrible news on our end. We had just gotten back to four in our group, which meant that everyone would have had their own room and no fake wall was needed in the spacious living room.
After this beautiful house slipped through our naïve fingers, we had to keep hunting. After looking at a few more 4-bedroom apartments, we weren’t having much luck. My family friend ended up finding an apartment on her own a week before we were hoping to move into our hypothetical apartment. The Tuesday before the move-in date on Saturday we saw three apartments, chose one with the best subway location and move-in date, and thought the universe was looking out for us.
We had two great weeks in the apartment before I had my first bite.
Anyway, after months of ignored apartment maintenance requests (I’m not talking minor stuff, our sink and tub were somehow connected and we could only use one or the other every 24 hours or take a shower with food remnants floating in our water…which wasn’t a huge inconvenience since we hated showering when the bathroom ceiling would fall on us…kind of defeats the purpose of that anti-flake shampoo I used) and the never-dying bedbugs my roommates and I decided to break our lease and get the hell out of there. I will skip all the legal research we did and how I am now an expert on the New York City Housing Maintenance Code, specifically Article 4, Section 27-2018: Rodent and Insect Eradication and say that once again the Craigslist gods looked down on me in pity.
I had one day to find an apartment before I left for spring break and then returned to move into said apartment. I figured I’d find something that as long as it was bedbug free, I would take it. I ended up in a beautiful one-bedroom furnished apartment in upper Harlem…that was stabilized rent. Yes, I had won the residential jackpot.
I have been in the Holy Grail Apartment for two months now and have yet to be bitten by anything or have any problem at all. It just goes to show you that while Craigslist is full of people with feet fetishes, telemarketing jobs that are “NOT TELEMARKETING!!!”, and even broken TVs that someone is willing to give away (provided you climb up their eight flights of stairs and carry it down yourselves) that if you’re lucky or fucking desperate like I was (twice), you could find your dream apartment in this crazy city we love so much. Anyone who says Craigslist is sketch should probably learn that there are skeezy people everywhere and that you have to put effort into finding a quality bachelor(ette) party entertainer and can’t rely on Craigslist to solve ALL of your problems without you doing any of the work. Actually, I’d be happy to tell them myself. I’ll be in my beautiful apartment with all of its natural light. Waiting.
**Before signing any lease, check your building’s and apartment’s complaint and violation history! You can see bedbug history, gas and electric problems, even plumbing. Just enter your address into the box on the lower right of the screen when you visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/home/home.shtml Don’t let my legs be permanently scarred in vain!**