Back in 1975, I took a few days to look for an apartment during spring vacation, and was lucky enough (amazingly, incredibly, lucky enough, in hindsight) to see an ad in the Monday NY Times. The tenant Susan needed someone to take over her lease as she just had a baby (Anna is now over 30!) and was moving to a two-BR in the same building. Susan had lived in the apartment when she was still single, and was only the second tenant to occupy it, since the building went up in 1961.
I answered the ad, went to see the place, and fell in love the minute Susan opened the door to the huge walk-in closet by the entry (one of 3 huge walk-in closets, in addition to the bedroom closet, which is pretty darn big, and a small kitchen broom closet). It was a 900-square foot one-BR with a dining alcove and large terrace, and did I mention the great closets?
The rent was a tiny problem: at $281.25 it was slightly more than a week's salary at my first job (actuarial student at Equitable). They made my father co-sign the lease. But it wasn't THAT much more than a week's salary, and I never had a problem paying on my own.
With New York's rent stabilization laws limiting increases every 3 and then 2 years, the rent is now insanely low. I'm surprised no one commented when I listed the amount a few entries back. Either you're not from New York and have no idea what a bargain it is, or you're all dead from heart attacks.
The place isn't perfect, and could use some work. The kitchen floor has been brown and streaky since I moved in (I want to try steaming it clean, if I can get over fear of the steamer I bought 3 years ago), the bathroom ceiling is peeling, the floor wood in part of the living room got icky after a 2002 flood (caused by backup in the terrace drainage system under my living room floor), the appliances are more than 30 years old. The apartment hasn't been painted since 1984, since I can't deal with moving all my stuff (including 8 jam-packed bookcases) away from the walls.
But it's still great. Did I tell you about those closets? When the building went condo in 1989 (I didn't want to deal with ownership and continued to rent), they upgraded the lobby including a concierge desk which holds packages. The laundry room has loads of machines, and contains a book exchange shelf where neighbors leave great stuff.
The Upper (Yupper) West Side neighborhood has only gotten better over the years. There's a public library on the next block (in fact, I went there today), a Friday greenmarket close by, and two (2!) diet yogurt stores and several health food places within a few blocks on Broadway (but I do miss Healthy Pleasures). I could order in from a different restaurant every night and not run out for weeks. I'm close to 2 subway lines.
When I see younger co-workers sharing minuscule studios with bunk beds for more than twice the rent, or open the paper and see the ridiculous prices people are asked to pay (how many investment bankers could there be?), I am very grateful. The apartment has allowed me to leave health insurance statistics and freelance in the not-exactly-investment-banker-salary-lev
Here's to another 30 years!