It really does.
It has ruffled my feathers in such a way that I need to just let it out. You try to find an apartment by searching online. Inevitably, each apartment is tied to a realtor. But it's not like Sydney or London where you look, say yes or no, and walk away. Once the realtor knows who you are, they get their claws stuck in. ‘Don’t like this one? I have several others that may suit! Come with me… (Lure lure).. I really want to find you the perfect home!’ Roughly translated as…’I want to find you any home…as quickly and intensely as possible, introduce you to the landlord… and pop around $7k in my pocket for doing so thank you very much’.
This, in NY, is called a ‘brokers fee’. Ultimately the most ridiculous transaction I have EVER heard of. Even if you don’t find the property through a broker, there is often a broker involved, and a fee attached. 15% of the annual rent. Yes, that’s right, FIFTEEN PERCENT OF THE ANNUAL RENT.
Once we made a loose relationship with a realtor (and we tried two, one of which was the worst you can imagine), it felt like apartment search boot camp for five days solid. Running around the city with a crazed realtor, no food or water for several hours. At the end of these days, they then call us every 3 – 5 minutes until we just give in and agree to an apartment just so they will go away.
That’s it. They walk away. No agent service, or anyone to call on if things don’t work out. Take our $7k, and jog on. To get rid of our realtor, hopefully forever, it cost us just this. Money well spent I say. Let’s hope the Brownstone duplex apartment we have rented lives up to its charm and we don’t find ourselves in another real estate nightmare too soon.
Now..... I can think.
Despite the hustle and bustle of finding our feet in New York City, tackling an earthquake, a hurricane, and real estate agents – the latter being by far the most unnerving… I have still managed to sniff out a few favourite spots even within the first week. So on a lighter note, I can introduce you to a few little corners of NY that I have already begun to adore.
We have been staying in Williamsburg. Ultra hip, ultra cool. Sydney’s distant relative would be Surry Hills, London’s would be Shoreditch. So, typically, and temporarily, we are here. And I’ve already found a few favourite venues between here and Manhattan to feed my various hungers for various things……
For jewellery, nothing too fancy, just a very cool collection. I love Meg store on 54th and North 6th in Williamsburg.
For homewares, Brook Farm General Store, right under the Williamsburg Bridge, 75 South 6th Street, right opposite the Gretch building, (it nearly became our home, but not quite….).
They have modelled this store on the original NY gereral stores, carrying a similar ethic and stocking vintage and new wares. (Above image courtesy Brook Farm General Store website).
And for the most wonderful glass of wine, in a smooth a sultry space, I choose Tuffet, the cheese and meat bar on Graham Ave. When we first fell upon Tuffet, the staff were warm and welcoming despite us being NY aliens.
They prepared us an $18 cheese and meat board and we enjoyed it slowly with delicious French wine. It seemed to take forever to make. The precision was well worth it though, amazingly presented, with love. The cheese was a divine room temperature, and the atmosphere extremely relaxed.
We have now been back to Tuffet three times since we have been in Williamsburg, and each time, I love it a little more. The vintage wall sconces and bar hooks, the deeply coloured wooden floors and soft-grey panelled walls, with a constant jazzy beat in the background. What a perfect and simple little bar. (Images all courtesy Tuffet website).
However, we can’t hang around Williamsburg all day and night. We have realtors to chase around. Apartments to turn our noses up at and Manhattan to explore.
We had to rule out the East Village due to the severe lack of space in every 3 bedder they showed us…… 3 bedders for small children.... at a squeeze…... maybe mice?
During all the jostling around the lower east side on a 28 degree day, I fell abruptly upon Dean and Deluca, Soho, and I snuck in a little break. As I drifted through the glass doors at the front of the store and breezed past the flower arrangements I felt momentarily as though I had died and gone to heaven. Dean and Deluca…. I kept muttering it to myself as I wondered past the cheese counter, with piles of delicious cheeses. Shelves of condiments and wonderfully colourful salad bars with gourmet sandwiches and coffee. Dean and Deluca, 560 Broadway, NYC. The original and first store of it's kind, has been there since 1977. A little piece of heaven. Stacks of counters all offering deluxe and luxury flavours. Truffle oils, chilli oils, the list goes on. As you get deeper into the vast space, finally, homewares... wonderful blue and white speckled tins and jars, wine glasses and giftware.....
At last, I breathe to myself. I’m home……..