Archive for February, 2008

Live from Brooklyn.

If you haven’t already heard, Becki and I are moving to New York. I guess the internet is about the lamest way possible to tell people, but that’s what happens when you’re as bad at keeping in touch as I am. I freshened up the header image to match, because I apparently have a lot of free time.

So why are we moving? Well, we’ve been planning to move out of Maryland anyway, since I’m getting to the point where I have to tell people I’m “from” here, and I really don’t like doing that. Now that Becki’s out of college and our lease is almost up here in Columbia, it’s the perfect time. She’s looking to get into publishing/writing, and the place I work has an office in Brooklyn, so NYC just made sense.

We started out looking in Washington Heights and upper Manhattan in general, but I’ve been pulling for Brooklyn lately. The reasoning is that we can’t afford Manhattan or Staten Island, Queens is pretty far out, and I just plain don’t want to live in the Bronx or outside the five boroughs. There’s also the fact that even though I’ve only spent a total of maybe three days of my life in Brooklyn, I just like it. See also, Mos Def:

Its real yo, but still yo, its love here,
And it’s felt by anybody that come here.
Out of towners take the train, plane and bus here,
Must be something that they really want here.

Travel all around the world in great distances,
And ain’t a place that I know that bear resemblance.

So there’s that, I guess.

Our planning process has hinged on two questions:

1. Can we afford it? The answer to this is very often a resounding no, punctuated by a sharp tightening of the chest when I think holy crap I’m so screwed so hard that I reconsider how much I really want to move.

2. Are we likely to be stabbed? Thanks to New York Magazine, we have a pretty good resource (Warning: PDF link) for that. The answer to this question is actually no most of the time, but mostly in cases where question one was also a negative. Honestly, as long as we aren’t living in or near Bed-Stuy, I feel safe. Becki’s standards are a bit higher, and not without reason.

There’s a very small slice of locations that I can both afford, and survive living in, and while there are plenty of rentals in those areas, they don’t stay on the market very long. I suspect that most people reading this haven’t ever tried to live in New York, which is probably good for them, because unless you’re rich or a badass, you’re going to find it an unpleasant process.

It’s not that Columbia is cheap, I actually pay around a thousand a month here. An apartment in Brooklyn, at least the things I’ve found so far, can be half again more than that. And landlords frequently require the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit of a month’s rent. If you go through a broker, often the requirements aren’t as steep, but brokers charge a fee of, generally, either a month’s rent or 15% of a year’s rent.

Needless to say, I’m trying very hard to avoid going through a broker. I’m not sure how 8 million people can live in New York when, at the minimum, it can run you four or five thousand dollars every time you have to move.

Aside from the staggering initial cash outlay in exchange for the keys, the fun thing about NYC real estate is that things fly off the market like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t get, at first, how vacancies could be at .5% (forgot where I read that, and it may not be accurate), when I saw so many apartments in the classifieds. The answer, apparently, is that things frequently list and sell on the same day. That’s insane. We’re going up there to apartment-hunt in a week, and everyone I’ve talked to has told me that, rather than this being a poorly-conceived last-minute failure of a plan, like most of the things I do, it’s actually too far out to expect anything I see to still be around.

So the search goes on. We’ll find something, I don’t worry about that, but it’s definitely the hardest market I’ve ever had to deal with. It’ll all be worth it when I start working up there, and I can buy lunch everyday from a street vendor hot dog cart, and eat in the shadow of the Brooklyn bridge.

If I stop posting, just assume I’ve been stabbed.

Some new blogs I like.

New to me, at least. Overheard in NY has been kicking around for a while.

I like Overheard in New York because of things like this:

Black guy: Where you from?
Tourist: Maryland.
Black guy: Cool. I’ve seen The Wire. I know how you guys get down.

I’m filled with equal measures of pride and horror at that statement.

And I like Stuff White People Like because of things like this:

“If you are in the position where you need to take a white person to lunch for business or pleasure, saying “I know a great sandwich shop,” will always bring out a smile. The white person will then tell you about the great sandwich shop in the town where they went to college and how they had a crush on a waiter, or that there was some special sandwich that they always ordered.  This will put the person in a good mood.”

It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, and it cracks me up.

This is the best picture.

nwa.jpg

This is a picture of NWA. It is amazing because they’re all wearing hats for sports teams, except for Ice Cube, who is wearing an Ice Cube hat.

He’s sending a real message, and I don’t know what it is, but I love it.

TED

There is an absolute treasure trove of awesome talks on the TED site. My favorites: Project Orion, Larry Lessig on copywrite, and Will “SimCity” Wright. But there are dozens more worth watching. Clear your schedule.

FAT KITTY

According to the vet, our cat is diabetic. Awesome!