The Hunt: Walking to Work From the Lower East Side

The Hunt: Walking to Work From the Lower East Side

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So in the winter, she became an editor at Oyster.com, a hotel review site owned by TripAdvisor, a job that would take her back to New York.

EAST VILLAGE A studio on East 11th Street had some good points, but it was too expensive and too far from her office.

Credit
David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

“I never had my own place, so getting my own apartment was a big deal for me,” said Ms. Wood, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Through friends, she was referred to Andrew Bak, a salesman at City Connections Realty. She arranged to stay with a friend in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and told Mr. Bak she had just two requirements: a monthly rent between $1,800 and $2,300, and a location within a 40-minute walk of her SoHo office.

The closer she was to work, the more she was willing to pay.

Her work neighborhood, though, has some of the city’s priciest real estate.

“Given the budget, you’re really limited,” Mr. Bak said. He told Ms. Wood she would have to stick to parts of the East Village and the Lower East Side.

In the East Village, the apartments Ms. Wood saw, all of which were renovated, struck her as quirky and expensive. Many lacked bathtubs or full-size refrigerators.

One studio, on East 11th Street near First Avenue, had a breakfast bar and a large closet, but it was $2,300 a month and a bit of a haul from work. “Why would I pay the top of the budget and walk all this way?” she said. “It was far and expensive.”

EAST VILLAGE Like many places in the area, a studio on East 14th Street lacked a bathtub. But traffic noise disqualified it.

Credit
David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

Concerned about traffic noise, she dismissed those on busy East 14th Street, including a $2,100 studio with a shower stall but no bathtub.

Back on East 11th Street, for less rent, $1,850, she turned down a ground-floor studio that overlooked trash cans. “I knew it would be noisy and miserable,” she said. “The noise of people throwing away their garbage would drive me mad.” Maybe price and location weren’t her only requirements after all.

She liked a freshly renovated place on East Sixth Street for $2,300, but the strict landlord required both a guarantor and her current year’s tax returns, which she wouldn’t have for months. Her previous year’s returns weren’t sufficient.

Disheartened, she wondered whether walking to work was an impossible dream. She began to wonder if “maybe I should give up and live in Brooklyn.”

The next day, Mr. Bak took her to the Lower East Side. The rents were lower and the walk to work shorter. She was encouraged.

She turned down two small studios, both sixth-floor walk-ups.

Another building smelled awful. With no place outside for trash cans, they were kept inside the building.

LOWER EAST SIDE At last, an apartment with plenty of light, full-size appliances and a big bathroom passed inspection.

Credit
David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

But when she stepped into a studio with the main room split in two by an archway, she thought, “Why didn’t we start here?”

It was big enough for a table “so I could eat in a different room from where I slept,” she said. There was plenty of light, a big bathroom and full-size appliances. The rent was $2,050. She was relieved.

“Something about it spoke to Megan,” Mr. Bak said. “Someone walks into the apartment and they know it feels right.”

With no traditional rental history, Ms. Wood was required to meet the landlord, whose main concern was that she not sublet her place. “I was happy to hear that because I don’t want anyone in the building to be Airbnb-ing,” she said. “I want nothing to do with any strangers in my house.”

Ms. Wood paid a broker’s fee of 15 percent of a year’s rent, or $3,690, and arrived in midwinter. “It is a lot easier to live in your own house than to live in a hotel,” she said.

The building is fairly quiet, though she hears late-night weekend street noise, with partyers screaming and singing as they leave the corner bars. To her surprise, she said, “They sing complete songs.”

She is co-writing a book on female friendships. With her quick and easy on-foot commute, she has plenty of time to work on it at home. It takes her 22 minutes if she doesn’t have to break stride for traffic lights. “If I have a meeting, I give myself 28 minutes,” she said. “The walk is a good way to start and end the day.”

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