Friday, March 29, 2013

New York, I love you but you are bringing me down...

  Have you ever experienced the feeling of uncertainty in your life? Have you felt lost and depressed? Now imagine that you are experiencing the same feelings, but double charged with emotions of joy and excitement. It might sound strange, but that's how you feel if you live in New York City. One moment you can feel down and your life seems falling apart, and next moment something great happens (you get a great job offer, or you meet an amazing guy, or simply someone smiles at you on a subway) and you feel happy... Life in NYC is similar to a roller-coaster ride but with no seat belts attached to your car. So you never know when you are going to fall out.

 My friends who live in different countries always ask me questions about my life in NYC. Unfortunately, they can't come to live here for different reasons; thus, I devote this blog to my friends and to those who choose to live in this great city, as well as to those who have always wondered what it would be like. Let me be your secret source into a unique New York City life. Take it as a handy guide or just read it for pleasure. 

How did I start my "roller-yorker ride"? I came to New York at the age of 22. I was young, fresh, naive and inexperienced. I had great hopes and dreams. I came on my own with one suit-case and pair of pink glasses. I didn't know anyone here, and nobody knew me. That was exciting. It was freedom. Freedom was screaming from every corner presenting different opportunities. I came for three months that turned into years. Many people ask me why I decided to stay here and leave a good life in my home country behind me. To be honest, I am still trying to figure it out. Maybe good life is not just enough? And hey, I love New York. Of course, I  miss my home, I miss my lovely parents, friends, my dog and there are times when I  feel so homesick that I cry in darkness of the night when nobody can see me. I know that New York likes strong people, and only strong people can survive in its terrain and become successful. So let's keep my "night tears" in secret:) Here's my first successful story of finding an apartment in NYC.

Manhattan lights are too blurry...

Everybody dreams to live in Manhattan. But dreams don't always match with reality. When I came to NYC, I knew that I couldn't afford to rent an apartment in the city (New Yorkers call Manhattan “city'). I booked few nights in a student hostel and started looking for a place in Brooklyn and Queens. I found many listings on Craigslist in the section “housing/sublets/temporary”. Most of these listings were posted by real estate agents who asked for extra charges (three months of rent in advance). I also realized that I can only afford to rent a room. My budget was $1200. When you rent an apartment in New York directly from the owner or landlord, you have to pay 3 rents in advance, it includes first month rent, last month rent and a security deposit. You also have to show your salary history (you should earn enough money to pay monthly rent), you should prove that you have a good credit history. If you don't have such documents (let say you don't have a job, or you are fresh off boat), you can find a sponsor who can become your guarantor. This way you can rent an apartment under his name. In case if you fail to pay your rent, your guarantor becomes responsible for any payments. If you rent an apartment through a real estate agent, you have to get one year lease, and you should pay six months ahead for renting an apartment; plus you should cover agency fees. It usually costs a fortune. It is better to find a room. It is less stress, it gives you opportunity to find a good job, establish yourself, and there are no strings attached.( An average price for a room in Brooklyn/Queens is $600). I found few listings that I liked and scheduled appointments. My first site visit was in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A guy in his 20's was showing me the place. He was a college student and his roommate just moved out,  so he needed to find a new roommate as soon as possible. It was a very nice 2 bedroom apartment. I had one night left to stay in hotel, so I didn't really have much time to look for another room. I decided to move in. When I was about to pay the deposit, I saw a huge snake slowly crawling from the guy's room. I screamed from the top of my lungs and started running towards the exit. I was afraid of snakes since I was a child. I remember running downstairs and screaming, this guy running after me trying to explain that it was his pet and it always stayed locked in his bedroom. Once I recovered from shock, I explained to the guy that I couldn't take this room. Hello! I didn't want to wake up one night spooning with a python. Brrrr! 

Next day I found a nice room in a student's apartment. It was close to Coney Island in Brooklyn, the place was great. I paid a security deposit and first month rent ( $1000 in total). My new roommates were two guys about my age and they were from my country. I felt at home. And that's where my adventure began. If only I knew!