Living through the pandemic in New York City has been quite the ride, to say the least.
From freezer trucks parked outside of hospitals serving as makeshift morgues, to extreme isolation, to city-wide camaraderie during the “7pm cheer,” New Yorkers have had our Yankees hats handed to us.
Recently, we’ve mourned for the thousands of neighborhood-staple restaurants that have had to permanently close their doors. While holding our breath for all the remaining restaurants that are navigating the new restrictions of outdoor-only dining…in the eastcoast winter. And we’ve watched, bewildered, that the City That Never Sleeps is now completely dark by 10:00pm…even on New Year’s Eve. New York City has been walloped by Covid, and it shows.
But one thing that I haven’t talked about, is the mass exodus that has occured since the beginning of the pandemic. With bars, restaurants, nightlife and cultural staples closed (ie – the reasons that people love NYC), and jobs moving completely remote, New Yorkers have packed up and left for places with lower costs of living, and that weren’t as completely ravaged by COVID.
Over 3.57 million New Yorkers fled the city during 2020. (source: NYPost) 3.57 MILLION. What!?! That is obscene. But to be honest, I get it. Why suffer through the pandemic alone where things cost a’gillion dollars, when you can work from anywhere and be more comfortable while doing it…and around family.
But the thing that people don’t account for when thinking about that number…is apartment vacancies.
One in five apartments is sitting vacant right now. (Time Out NY). That is wild. Wild. And I’ve experienced that statistic first hand. In my building, alone, during the height of the pandemic, only 40% of apartments were occupied. My friends’ buildings — same story. Moving trucks arriving, weekly it seems, with another tenant moving out. You look out the windows at night at other buildings, and there are more pitch black apartments than those with the glow of lights. New Yorkers have left. In a big way. A mass exodus that would give Moses a run for his money.
But — all those vacant apartments, have come with a bit of a silver lining, if you will. As a result, rent prices are the lowest they’ve been in 14 years. Buildings are desperate to fill their vacancies, and as a result are giving super attractive perks on top of lower prices: offering 3+ months of free rent, free amenities, no broker fees. It is really a renter’s market right now.
Which is exactly what my boyfriend took advantage of this past month. If you follow me on Instagram (which I would really appreciate! @beauty.beyond.bones) then you know that I’ve been helping him move! Last weekend was the coup de gras, where the Roadway Moving trucks came and he actually moved! But all last month, we’ve been having so much fun on the weekends touring all these beautiful apartments all over the city. Apartments that have never been priced so low!
And he’s not the only one! We were at a New Year’s Eve get-together with another couple, and they also took advantage of the renter’s market, and scored a two-year lease on a $6500/month luxury apartment on the 54th floor overlooking the river…for “just” $5000/month. I mean, you will never be able to find a deal like that in New York ever again.
Granted, NYC is clearly not what it used to be, and the reasons why people put up with paying such sky-high rents have completely dissipated, but hey – at least you can live in a really nice place while you weather out the third wave!
But I wanted to share my “Take-Aways” from watching my man move in NYC during a Pandemic!
1. Gross Rent is NOT Net Rent
This was the biggest and honestly, most frustrating part of this whole process. And frankly, it’s a little shady, if you ask me. In the apartment listings, the landlords will advertise the NET RENT, which takes into account all of the promotions and discounts they’re offering right now during the pandemic. So, three months free, is going to offset the net rent quite a bit. HOWEVER, the GROSS rent is the ACTUAL rent that will appear on your lease and your monthly bills, and let’s just say, that number is much higher than the NET rent. The promotion will ACTUALLY BE, (for example) – the second month free, and the last two months free – but every other month, you have to pay the GROSS rent, which is NOT what was advertised on the listing that attracted you in the first place.
So that was a disheartening thing to learn. Especially when you fall in love with a place at the top of your price range, only to find out that it is, in fact, WAY out of your price range. Yeah, not cool.
2. See A LOT of apartments!
Not only is it fun to get to peek at all the different types of offerings that XX amount of money can get you, but you also never know when you’ll stumble upon one you love! Manhattan real estate comes in allllll shapes and sizes. Literally. My studio apartment in the village is a pre-war, cutesy/romantic “Friends”-type apartment that you would envision for the downtown Greenwich Village “artsy type.”
Whereas my boyfriend’s apartment is the sleek, midtown, skyscraper, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city, luxury building built in the late 2010s. Two totally different styles of quintessential New York real estate.
So you never know what will strike your fancy.
And on that note…don’t be afraid to walk into a building without an appointment! The doormen will usually have keys, and it’s in their best interest to show the apartments, so be bold, and just waltz in like you own the place!
3. Know what your “Must-Haves” are, and then rule out the others
Having too many options is…overwhelming to say the least. So know what your “absolutely must haves” are before you even start the process: in-unit laundry? Dishwasher? Pet-friendly? Doorman? Live-in Super? On-site parking? (Which heads up: in New York, monthly parking in a covered garage is upwards of $400/month PRE TAX. Tax on parking in NYC is a whopping 18% percent! So beware that hidden cost. Also – you can apply for a resident tax exemption, which lowers that parking tax rate to 10%.)
4. Bring a friend/write notes
This one seems like a no brainer, but definitely write down your impressions and notes about the apartment AS SOON AS you leave, while it’s fresh. Because apartments look the same, and after 20 one-bedrooms with white walls and hard wood floors, they all begin to look the same. On that note, take lots of photos and videos. And begin the video by saying “14B at XX Street.” Also – bringing a friend is not only fun and safe — but also nice to get a second set of eyes!
5. Hire Movers!
Believe me, you don’t realize how much stuff you’ve accumulated until you have to put it in boxes!
My boyfriend used Roadway Movers – and they were terrific! We didn’t lift a finger. And he was unpacked and settled that same day, to the point where we even got to catch the sunset on the roof with a celebratory cocktail! And if you’d like to use Roadway, they’re offering my readers a discount with my code: “CARALYN 10” for 10% off local moves or 5% off long distance!
So there you have it! I’m so excited for his new chapter in such a beautiful new place! I have gotten such an education going through this process with him, and I’ve found the whole NYC real estate scene-post pandemic absolutely FASCINATING, so I wanted to share about it with you! A little different than my norm, but hey – if I find something interesting, you know I’ll pass it along!
Happy New Year, and I’ll see you on Instagram!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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