Tomorrow will mark six years since I moved from Arizona to New York (James came five months after me so that he could wrap up grad school). So it’s pretty fitting / crazy / unbelievable that we’re celebrating by moving into an apartment that WE BOUGHT.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we would buy a place in NYC. In fact, before I started working at my current job, James and I were talking about when we would move back to Phoenix (he was ready to go, I wasn’t). But when we both landed new gigs in 2017, New York was looking like a more long term plan.
Towards the end of last year, James and I started entertaining the thought of buying. We had been in our same 1-bedroom rental apartment in Gramercy for five years (now six!). Every year we had been saying that it’s time for a change and every year we ended up renewing our lease. We started looking very casually at the end of 2017 and the great thing about having a little more time on our hands (our lease renews every November) was that we could do our due diligence, research different neighborhoods and be very picky about the places we wanted to see.
As you might expect, New York real estate ain’t cheap and we knew we would have to look outside of Manhattan to even be able to remotely afford something. While I would have loved to say that we live in Brooklyn (+10 instant cool points), it wouldn’t have been a good commute for me or James. Queens seemed like the more logical option — many of the neighborhoods are “up and coming,” reasonably affordable (all things considered) and was an easy commute to work and to the airports (which we fly out of a lot).
On a whim, we decided to take a look at some units in an apartment complex in Astoria. It’s a buzzy neighborhood with lots of restaurants and bars, but this apartment was a bit of the beaten path. They were all recently renovated inside, but there were a lot of things we didn’t love (a really dreary stairwell, oddly configured living room and no bath tub — mama has needs and an occasional bath is one of them!).
The holidays came and went and we picked back up this February. We saw a 1 bedroom in Jackson Heights that had split its living room into another room that could be used as an office, guestroom or nursery (one day)! Obviously not ideal in terms of square footage, but it was a creative use of the space. We could really see ourselves living their for a few years. Apparently, there were already some offers on the table and if we were serious, we would need to make a bid ASAP.
At that point, it really was just window shopping. We didn’t have a broker representing us and we really had no idea what the contract process would entail. After talking to my dad for advice, I got a little dose of reality — it’s not enough to say “I’m interested, let’s throw our hats in the ring.” We needed someone to guide us through the process, to represent our interests and help us navigate the complexities of NYC real estate.
So we reset our expectations and connected with a friend who also happens to be a real estate agent. She helped us find some listings that fit our needs and in April — literally the day I got back from Amsterdam — we visited the apartment that would eventually become ours.
Yes, it was only the third apartment we had seen in person. But after scouring apartment listings in the area for six months, I hadn’t seen anything else like it. It’s a two bedroom, third floor walk up. Not too far from the subway station. On a quiet street, flanked by lots of restaurants. The rooms are big and the kitchen is fully renovated and absolutely gorgeous!
We saw the apartment on Monday, put in an offer by Friday, went through some counter offers and violá — we had both accepted within the next week!
I know this was a long one and if you’ve stuck with me, thank you for reading along! There’s SO much more to share — what it’s like to buy into a co-op building, our move in process and of course decorating!! I can’t wait to share it all. If there’s anything specific that you’d like me to cover about buying a home, I’m happy to take a stab at it! Let me know your questions and thoughts in the comments section below and thank you so much for your support!