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Sunday, April 06, 2008


Home, Home on the Strange

A grey and shitty-looking morning in New York.

Which sucks extra cups of bong water because yesterday was so very, very gorgeous. Yesterday was a capital "S" Spring day. Just painfully gorgeous.

My wife and I are in the process of kind of sort of thinking about buying a place, mostly because paying someone else's mortgage in your late thirties is a little sad. However, as my wife is the kind of lawyer that does good instead of evil and I teach, we do not make the sort of venture capitalist bucks one needs to own in Manhattan. Seriously, if you are not a millionaire, you cannot purchase a home here.

Well, that's not entirely true, I suppose. There are places that are affordable, but these place have income restrictions. My wife and I make too much to qualify for these places and too little to qualify for everyplace else.

So we've been spending time in other boroughs. (Well, not Staten Island. 'Cause...come on.) We looked last week at a place in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood I know nothing more about than that it got a mention in the theme song from Car 54, Where Are You? This place was a 50's-style apartment building that went co-op at some point and is currently being renovated apartment by apartment as the old inhabitants die off. We saw a very spacious one-bedroom place with nice light and a decent view. Unfortunately, the reason we saw it was that we want a two-bedroom place and this particular apartment was going to have a partial living room-ectomy to add that extra bedroom on. Which would make it not quite so spacious.

Yesterday, we spent a decent chunk of the beautiful afternoon schlepping all the way out to East New York. We were nervous, as the neighborhood was in the top three crime-ridden areas of the city in 2006. We were pleasantly surprised, though, at the street the building is on. A very quiet, tree-lined street full of decent-looking town homes.

The place we were looking at is a HUD property, meaning it had been seized (or something along those lines) and is now being sold at a cheaper price because it needs some work. Which my wife and I are willing to do, to a degree.

It was a solid-looking place. Four bedrooms. Spacious. A tiny front yard and some space out back. Sure, there was a massive hole in the mudroom ceiling through which water was pouring even on a sunny day, but that can be fixed. More disturbing to me--although, admittedly, more of a fixable cosmetic problem--was the fact that something or someone, stray cat or junkie, had crapped all over the upstairs. It was rubbed into the carpet in a most unappetizing manner.

After taking our time appraising the first floor, my wife and I shielded our noses and gave the most perfunctory of glances to the upper level. *Shudder*

It was one of those places that, if it wasn't an hour-long train ride away from Manhattan (and even longer to get to my job in the Bronx) we might have considered it, even with the needed work, even with the junkie poop. But to have all that on top of a torturous commute? Meh.

And so the search continues. I'm thinking we might just build a lean-to in Central Park.

On '50's apartments. Before you buy, check the walls. You might be the type who likes extended family, as in knowing every word spoken by your neighbors. If so these thin-walled buildings are right for you.

If you're not quite that family oriented, I suggest you look for "pre-war" buildings, those constructed before 1942. Thick walls, higher ceilings. At least here in Jackson Hts.
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