What is Pre-War and Why Am I Paying for Heat?

Studio and the City

As a new New Yorker, I have so many questions. Why should I care about living in a pre-war building? And paying for heat with air-conditioning is usually the set-up, so why am I paying for heat only? What am I missing? Those aren’t the most pressing questions, but they have intrigued me as I search for my first studio in the city.

Somewhere in Manhattan

I’ve decided I want to live somewhere in Manhattan, I just can’t determine which neighborhood fits my budget and personality, but more importantly, which one has everything I need within walking distance because I’m leaving my car back home.

Finding My Person

Home is Dallas, Texas, although I’ve wanted to call New York City home since about six months after 9/11. I visited for the first time in March 2002 and fell in love with the fast pace of the people. There might have been a cute Port Authority police officer that I connected with while talking about the terrorist attacks, so maybe subconsciously I’ve always thought the Big Apple is where I might meet my person.

Leave No Regret

I have made countless trips over the years and I feel like now is the time to take the plunge. Not “now or never,” but more like “now would be a great time to get settled.” I’m settled in Dallas, but if I don’t scratch my east coast itch, it might be something I regret on my deathbed and no one wants to have a missing link when they cross over.

The War

SO! What is a pre-war building? I’ve learned it means the building was built before World War II. I could have guessed that, but why do I need to know that when speaking about potentially living in a pre-war building? Darren Sukenik, a managing director of luxury sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, is speaking my language. He said, “In Manhattan more than anywhere in the world, people buy what reflects them,” adding, “You really have to wear it like a loose garment, and it has to suit you.” I need to check out these pre-war and post-war places to see which one fits my style.

Heat: To Pay or Not To Pay

Now about this heat thing. Apparently landlords are required by NYC law to provide heat and hot water, but the person responsible for paying for it varies from building to building. It’s an amenity if the landlord advertises it in the rent, and if it’s an additional cost, it’s typically the way things go. I guess I should be grateful it is required by law to provide it. Back home, it’s just understood. However, it’s connected to the air-conditioning system, so I’m simply not used to hearing the term, “includes heat,” when an apartment is marketed for rent.

It’s Overwhelming

I know. I need so much help that I have three apps on my phone, Street Easy, Naked Apartments, and Flip. I run through them all pretty regularly, but my go-to lately has been Flip. This doesn’t happen much in Dallas, but apparently in New York City you can sublet your space, and Flip is the app to use if you want to take over someone’s lease agreement. Just know you are taking over the lease with all of its negotiated terms until its completion.

New York Law

For me, it would be easy if I was alone, but I have a 4-year-old and a dog, so the apartment hunt has been more than challenging. I found a place in Bed-Stuy (that’s the way to say it, right?), but the landlord wouldn’t put window guards on the windows. Apparently there is a law in New York that says you must have window guards on all windows when a child under the age of 10 years old resides there. It was a great deal too, but that fell through. On to the next.

Under $2,000 Please

There is a property on Staten Island called the Urby, and they only require you to make 30 times the rent as your annual income! And they don’t even verify it. They take you on your word. It’s called, “stated income.” There are some amazing views of the city, but for the location, I was really hoping to find something under $2,000. I was wrong. So that one is out. Back to the drawing board.

Wait a Second!

I think I just landed on something interesting. Have you heard of Localize? It’s a website with information about every address in New York City. Maybe I should change the title of this blog post to, “I just found the cheapest studio and you can too!” Hang on, it’s for buyers and not renters, but the information is still helpful and something that might help you research the neighborhood.

Brooklyn or Queens?

OK, maybe Flip will pull through for me. I just received a message from someone. Let me review which studio this is. Sheesh! It’s in Woodside, so that’s Queens, right? I really need a huge map on the wall to figure out where these burroughs end and where they begin. But good news, it looks like I’m going to meet her tomorrow after work. The studio is listed at $1,450, and that price makes my heart happy.

When to Rent

According to Renthop, this is the best time of the year to start an apartment lease. Landlords are more likely to negotiate discounts in the winter due to lower demand. We are in luck really because February is seasonally the cheapest month in New York. Rental prices start to increase in early May and peak around June/July/August.  

My Point and I Do Have One!

If you are looking for an apartment, like me, stay tuned to my posts on gohomeny.com. I’ll share my findings from the perspective of a new New Yorker, and of course, if you have a question or a comment, I want to know what you think.

See you on the streets!

By Ashley Stanley, Graduate Student on the Hunt for a Great Studio.

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