On July 1st or August 1st of this year, depending on how things go, I will be moving into an apartment in a co-op building in the Kew Gardens area of Queens, G-d willing. It has been nearly a year since I moved back from Seattle and this is only the first apartment in which I am actually going to be not just temporarily dwelling.
Friends in High Places
It all started when I was making the decision to move back to New York from Seattle. Publisher extraordinaire David Boles predicted that I would eventually move back to New York and he was correct. I came to the realization that living in Seattle was great for me from the standpoint of having good friends but not so good from the standpoint of living in a solid Jewish community. I felt as though I wanted to live somewhere where I could have a choice of places to pray and where I could get a good kosher hamburger if I wanted to do so.
One of the first things that I needed to do before moving was to find a place where I could temporarily stay while I rounded up the resources necessary to move into a more permanent dwelling place. It fell down to a very good friend of mine who was kind and gracious enough to let me stay with him. He initially told me that he would rather I stay for a couple of months but this arrangement changed as I started to do things for him and he found me to be helpful and so I ended up staying until the end of April. At that point he asked me to find somewhere else to live and so I commenced my search for an apartment.
I took my search to the Washington Heights because I knew it to be an inexpensive place to live. At one point, a few years ago, I had the possibility of living in Washington Heights for about $225 per month. There was a catch, of course. The catch was that the room was pretty small. I ended up living in a room of similar size for about twice as much on the Upper West Side. In my more recent searches on the Upper West Side I have found that the rents have mushroomed out of control, particularly for someone with my present income and marriage status – I certainly couldn’t afford to live in an apartment by myself.
I was getting ready to go to one apartment in Washington Heights when a friend stopped me and asked me if I would consider living in his apartment during the week and simply find somewhere to stay for Friday and Saturday night – for only four hundred dollars per month. That was a few hundred dollars cheaper than the place in Washington Heights and would be comfortably situated on the Upper West Side again. I figured that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find places to stay Friday and Saturday night and at worst, one or the other of my parents would get to see me for the weekend – I knew they wouldn’t argue with that.
Transition to Queens
As much as my mother loved having me every other weekend, she thought that perhaps it was not so great for me to have to find a place to stay every single weekend and that I should have, so to speak, a more permanent dwelling place. She told me that she had decided that she and my father were going to help me with finances to actually purchase an apartment. When my mother and stepfather went to Washington Heights to look for apartments for sale, they came back disappointed and stated emphatically that the apartments were overpriced and too small. They also told me that they had been told by Jewish people that were “like me” that there were a lot of people “like me” in the Kew Gardens area of Queens and that I might like living there.
I was just a little bit hesitant about the prospect of living in Queens because my friends had always told me that it is “far away.” Being a person who likes to experience things before I believe them (though I do put some stock in the numbers generated by MetaCritic) I decided that the best thing would be if we were to actually go to Kew Gardens and see what it was like there. My mother was kind enough to find a realtor who set us up with a few apartments to see and off we went. We looked at apartment after apartment that all went for around $170K.
They were nice apartments and I took plenty of notes comparing and contrasting them. The last apartment, however, stood out. For one, it was about one and a half times bigger than any of the other apartments we had seen. There was no information sheet on the apartment available so I asked the realtor for one and was shocked to find out that the price was just as much as the other apartments we had seen – I thought it would be significantly more. The kitchen was a dream, the living room had more than enough space not just for comfortable television watching / Wii playing but for having serious Friday night meals with numerous guests. That is something that is very important to me.
I discovered that the apartment building was co-op owned and that I would be in fact purchasing a share – so I would have to apply to the co-op board. They sent me a laundry list of things that I would need to submit to them. They included two personal letters of reference that had to be signed by a notary public and two business references that came from either banks or brokerages. I know of no brokers and am fortunate to have two bank accounts but as of this writing it is four business days since I paid $10 to get a reference letter from Bank of America and I have not received it. This ten dollar letter could be the only thing that makes the difference between my moving into this apartment in July or August because co-op boards do not meet that regularly and my moving in is dependant on their accepting me.
This apartment in Queens is certainly not where I thought I would be living when I moved out of my two bedroom two bath apartment in West Seattle but I am pleased that a year after moving back to New York, I will have a place that I can call my own.