Apartment Arbitrage One-Month Evaluation

One month ago my roommates and I excitedly moved cross-town to a humble, walk-up apartment nestled above an adorable café.  Since the three of us made the transition together many of our friends asked “Why, oh, why are you bothering moving then??”  This was a legitimate question, which we answered with a bit of a gamble as we neatly packed our belongings into a seemingly endless sea of cardboard boxes.

Why roll the dice, you say!  We gave up quite a few amenities at our old pad, and by amenities I mean things that people everywhere else in America consider prerequisites for living. Dishwasher. Two bathrooms (for three girls). Elevator. Doorman. Laundry on site.  Before you write us off as complete nut-jobs, I should tell you that in an oh-so-finance-nerdy way we made a list of the pros and cons of such an endeavor and since the apartments were similarly priced, rent was a moot point.

Pros:

No more Times Square tourist commute!

  • Shorter subway walk (+1)
  • Apt. with character + exposed brick (+1)
  • Equal-sized bedrooms (+1)
  • East River run/ bike path (+1)
  • No Times Square hustle (+1)
  • More living space (+1)
  • More centralized location/ lower cab fares (+1)
  • Live above a café (discounted good food!) (+1)
  • Friends in the neighborhood (+1)
  • Irish grandpa on site (+1)

Cons:

  • No dishwasher (-1)
  • No doorman (-1)
  • No laundry on site (-1)
  • No elevator (-1)
  • No West Side Highway run/bike path (-1)
  • One less bathroom (-1)
  • Live above café: mouse potential (-1)
  • No centralized air/ heat (-1)

There you have it: 10 Pros, 8 Cons. Net: +2.  Apartment arbitrage, baby!  Yes, I realize that though there wasn’t a rent increase we still had to pay to move, but it was a sunk cost at that point. So here we are, a month later, sitting comfortably in our triple-sized living room, which also now features exposed brick, tin walls and a dining room table (we ate at the coffee table previously).  Our subway walk has been cut to 4 minutes, down from the 15 minutes it used to take involving pesky tourists and the customary Times Square chaos. We now use wash and fold laundry service that is a block away, which, surprisingly, is the same price as the do-it-yourself machines at our old building ($2.50 washers and dryers are bogus!). The café below us is owned by a cheerful Irish grandpa character, who has generously accepted our packages, cakes and whatever else has been lovingly sent to the apartment.

As my roommate Hillary Clinton and I prepared for last night’s episode of Mad Men, we reflected on our decision to move, the relief that it was a good choice, and that our friends have affirmed those sentiments thus far. After all— everyone benefits from more space to host dinner parties and play Wii! Sure, the two front bedrooms hear some street noise but you can always block out drunks and late-night Journey sing-a-longs with good ear plus and headphones, right? There hasn’t been a sign of mice yet, but my other roommate assured me in her abilities to capture such an intruder in a kitchen pot and cast it out the window (she has had experience in this department before).  If all this justification isn’t enough for our sweet apartment, we can cooly remind ourselves that we pay twice as much as our Midwest counterparts for half the space and luxury. Thank you, NYC.

What is a deal-breaker for your apartment? We thought laundry on site was ours, but were delighted to discover the ease and affordability of wash and fold service!

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