I have a million things to write about, but need to focus on the one that is causing me the most stress, as a way to work through it as best I can.

Yesterday afternoon, on my way back into Manhattan from a day spent in New Jersey, I got a text message from a colleague. P has lived in New York for thirteen years, and is ready to move on to the next phase of her life – outside of the city. Looking at buying a townhome on Long Island, she’s simultaneously looking to sublet her apartment in Midtown East, a neighborhood known to some as Turtle Bay. And as she’s on my team, has enjoyed many neurotic, peppered-with-questions conversations with me about my relocation plans, and has encouraged me at every turn (in spite of her own delightfully entertaining but often decided opinions that disagree with my own), she’s giving me the first shot at her apartment.

There are several reasons why this is a really big deal.

  • Firstly, P is fabulous; she could sublet this apartment and make a mint — and she’s offering it to me at only the cost to herself.
  • Secondly, the housing market in NYC is terrible. I met one of Corcoran’s most celebrated agents, L, on Saturday evening and as he was willing to “talk shop” for a few minutes, that’s the first thing he warned me about. The vacancy rate is just 1.21% — double what it was in December of 2007, but still ridiculously low. The overwhelming number of flats for rent and homes for sale never hit the market — they’re snapped up by word of mouth long before one would need to list the vacancy. Rather in the way that P is offering me a sublet of her apartment, which would allow me to take over her lease (per landlord agreement) without requiring a listing. L advised that the best way to apartment-hunt is to ask everyone for leads, and make a move “off the radar.”
  • Thirdly, a sublet arrangment means that I can move in stages — without brokerage fees, without finders fees, without additional months rent required immediately for deposit. Putting that information into figure form, we’re talking a savings of at least $4,000.

Separately, there are great things about the flat.

  • The apartment space is delightful; a 3rd floor studio in a pre-war building on 50th street, a wall of windows with a view of the Chrysler building (Mom, I’m sure you’re in love with that!), two enormous floor-to-ceiling closets, a tiny but exceptionally usable kitchen (complete with counters and cupboards, unlike my first studio) and similar bath, and a primary room that can be easily divided between sleeping and living areas.
  • The building is exceptionally clean, with a doorman/security, lock room post boxes, basement storage and laundry — and the rent includes heat and hot water. (At most, electricity runs $80/month in the summer, when the AC is on full force.)
  • The neighborhood is adorable and charming — French bistros rubbing shoulders with Irish pubs, a piano bar with exceptional sangria, the best sushi in Midtown, a gym with ridiculously inexpensive membership and regular classes, Buttercup Bakery (the best cupcakes in the WORLD), some night-time hotspots (meaning that the neighborhood doesn’t dry up and blow away at 9pm), a handful of groceries (including D’Agostino’s and Pax), chemists, vintners, a short walk to Central and Bryant Parks, a four-minute stroll to the train going to my office, tree-beds maintained by the neighborhood association and an intergenerational community garden.
  • The area isn’t what I thought I was looking for (as in it’s not the Village), but it’s sweet and immensely comfortable, and I think I could be happy living there.

With every great thing, though, there are drawbacks.

  • The building doesn’t allow pets, nor is the flat itself large enough for two cats to be comfortable. Therefore I would need at least a six-month temporary home for Miranda and Stumpy Freedom, while I used my first six-months in the city to find my next place, letting me bring the girls afterwards. Which means that I would move in January, only to move again in July — which isn’t bad, but if I’m going to move twice, I’d rather have the times be closer together. And frankly, my cats are my family — I don’t particularly want to abandon them while I go off on adventures, nor uproot them after they’ve become established with (*gulp*) another family. (Marc Gunn, I know you understand!)
  • In terms of space, the apartment is at most 400 square feet — 50 feet smaller than my first studio in Albany, and 100-150 sf less space than I was really set on. I’m very concerned about that amount of living space, particularly as I do work from home with some regularity. I’m six feet tall and my wing span is 6’6″ — I grow claustrophobic before the average-sized person does, and that’s not at all pretty. (P and many of my other Manhattan-living colleagues and friends are tiny, so what’s comfortable for them doesn’t necessarily translate for me.)
  • The walk to the office is just about 3 miles, so I could do that in a pinch but not regularly (and definitely not while carrying my laptop bag in the humidity of July and August). I’m close to the theatre district and thus able to see Clay pretty easily when he’s in town, but the neighborhood isn’t convenient to any of the other things I’m looking forward to moving to the city for: Union Square, the Strand, Tea & Sympathy, the home design shops downtown, the libraries, the lesbian hangouts in the Village, friends in Brooklyn and Queens, Penn Station for the LIRR, NJT, & Amtrak, etc.

Not to mention, I’ll be looking at moving to the city immediately after Christmas (when money is always tight) during my winter vacation, so that I can be settled and start work on January 2 in my new office. In many ways, the logistics of a winter move are easier than one in July, but in terms of finances it’s a pretty major stretch. I’ll still be paying on my car in January, so selling it will be more difficult, but keeping and insuring it would be cost prohibitive. My debt reduction plan (everything but one student loan and the last six months on my car paid OFF) won’t conclude until October of this year, leaving me just two months to really hoard away every penny before moving to a far more expensive city — I was counting on at least two additional months of savings. And there’s the whole issue of my current lease, which isn’t up until May and which I’d have to break, forfeiting my security deposit.

On the other hand, now that I’ve decided to move, and especially after having spent a four day stretch in the city –hanging in the district immediately around my office, shifting professional relationships to be more cordial than “strictly business,” meeting people who may very well beome great friends, trying on new activities and finding niches for myself, falling in love with my improved posture, the immense walkability of the city and how open it feels with reflective plate glass everywhere, feeling the heart-thump of excitement every time I see my office building from the street and realise how fortunate I am to have what is, quite possibly, the most incredible job in the entire world as well as a stellar career stretching before me — I just want to be there. Yesterday and always

I am so immensely grateful for and thrilled by P’s offer, but I have some really serious thinking to do. I’m having dinner with Mom and Dad tonight, have two absolutely insane days of work left in the week, then am taking four days off to go camping with my youngest cousins. I hope to make a decision on this by Monday when I return, if not before.

Wish me luck?

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