Our plan is to spend the majority of Summer 2013 in New York City. Kate is very familiar with finding NYC sublets on Craig’s’ List, having spent 2 months here every Summer for the last 7 years ( can you tell she “quite” likes this city ?! ). We started looking on-line about 4 weeks beforehand, while we were in Hawaii. Kate said that she usually found something within 3 days but this time it took over a week of trolling through the “sublet/temporary” listings twice a day. Good apartments get taken very quickly and we were at a disadvantage with the 6 hour time difference between Hawaii and NYC. Kate also sent a “shout-out” to her New York friends and those she had sublet from before, requesting them to ask on their Facebook if anyone wanted to rent out an apartment. She has had success through this “it’s who you know” method before.
With her knowledge of New York apartment sizes Kate knew that a studio would be too small for two people wanting to rent something for over a week, so we were looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn or western Queens with a good subway connection to mid-lower Manhattan (within 30 mins commute). Given we are travelling for 6 months and are therefore on a budget, we wanted something under US$1,800/month and so that ruled out anything on Manhattan itself. Kate has mostly sublet in Brooklyn in the past and loves it there.
We were very excited to find an apartment in Astoria (subway only 15 mins to town) for US$1800 and had even sent through the deposit of $500, but it fell through at the other end and the guy (who felt very bad for letting us down) returned our deposit via Pay Pal within the day. We were so disappointed as we’d missed out on one or two good apartments in the meantime. It was only 2.5 weeks before our arrival in NYC and we were regretting not starting to look earlier. Things always work out though and we came across and apartment in Bed-Stuy (short for Bedford-Stuyvesant) for $1650 including utilities ( water, electricity, gas) for 32 days with a deposit of $250. Kate emailed a copy of a sublet agreement she had used in previous years and it was soon arranged.
We had a few brief email contacts with our “subletter” (we’ll call her Joy) over the next few weeks but it was with a “leap of faith” that we turned up we turned up in Bed-Stuy at 0815 on June 27th to find that she and the apartment really did exist! We had looked at the address on Google Earth’s “street view” so we new it was a nice tree-lined street with terraced brown-stones but that is not the same thing as knowing for sure that you’re going to be living in one of them!
Our Street in Bed-Stuy
Joy was very welcoming and waited patiently as we struggled to haul our ridiculously heavy suitcases and carry-on bags up the two flights of stairs before showing us around. I loved the exterior of the building but I was quite disconcerted by the wooden stairs as we ascended to the apartment. They are the noisiest, squeakiest stairs you could ever imagine. They give slightly when you step on them too, but hopefully they are sturdier than they look or sound.
I thought “Oh shit!”, is the apartment going to be falling apart too?! But much to my relief the wooden floor boards of the apartment are well secured and quiet and it is a lovely,comfortable, well laid out space. We felt right at home within a few hours. Joy was flying out to India for a month that evening and had kindly arranged to spend the rest of the day with a friend, so we had the place to ourselves straight away. It was a good thing too as we had flown overnight from Portland and had no sleep. So we flopped on the comfy bed and slept for 5 hours before venturing out to explore our neighbourhood. Another good choice of sublet!
Across the street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico - November 2013
I recently left my job to try out life as digital nomad, slow traveling my way around the world.
To learn my tips for traveling in comfort without a big budget, follow my journey here on our blog or on Facebook.