Design Diary: Finding an NYC Apartment, From Boston

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One of the perks of having a doctor for a best friend is free medical advice. One of the perks of being a doctor and having a best friend that's an interior designer is a lifetime of design help...

As a designer, I believe that people should be paid for their talents. But like most of you, there are a select few people in my life that I would never consider charging for my assistance. My best friend, Eleni, is one of those people. So when the time came for her to move from Boston to Manhattan for her oncology fellowship, I gladly offered to help her find and set up her new home. In these Design Diary posts, I'll share details about the process.

Not surprisingly, finding an apartment in NYC was challenging. The hospital requires that Eleni live in close proximity for at least the first year of her fellowship, so we were limited to the Upper East Side in our apartment hunting.  This was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it limited the neighborhoods we could consider and helped focused our search. On the other hand, it meant pursing less expensive fringe areas weren't an option. Time was also a constraint, as Eleni was deep in the middle of a rotation filled with 30 hour shifts in Boston at the time that the apartment search needed to take place. Like it or not, a broker seemed our best option.

Two days after speaking to a friend-recommended broker, Eleni received a call about a not yet listed apartment that met most of her criteria. The catch? It needed to be seen and decided upon the next day. Due to short notice, we enlisted the help of another friend, to view it on her behalf. It was a one bedroom apartment in a walk-up building, on the third floor.  The rent was high, but low by NYC standards. The location was great, and it was one block from the subway.

Our friend went to see the apartment, and on a lark, the agent showed her another one, in the same building but on the fifth floor.  She reported back — the fifth floor apartment had an almost identical layout, but the third floor apartment was best. Eleni submitted her application. Almost immediately she heard back that someone already living in the building had also submitted an application for the apartment, and they would most likely get it. Was she interested in the fifth floor apartment, they asked? (First reaction? No, it's a fifth floor walk-up!) Long story short — pros and cons were weighed, bank accounts were emptied, and Eleni is now renting a fifth floor walk-up apartment on the Upper East Side that she's personally never seen.

Next week, she'll get keys and we'll have the chance to see the apartment for the first time. We'll take pictures and measurements, and I'll get down to the nitty-gritty details of space planning...

(Image: Flickr user JasonParis, licensed via Creative Commons)