I’ve been apartment hunting for the past couple of weeks and y’all… it has been shella stressful. For those of you who don’t live in the blessed metropolis of New York, let me just clue you into the joys of Manhattan real estate. I decided to not renew my current lease because I would like for my bed to be in a different room than my sofa and also not pay so much. I was confident I would be able to find something, so I said SEE YA to my management company and started hunting. Turn around for apartments is so fast in New York that, even if I had found an apartment before giving my thirty days notice, no management company in this city would have left the apartment vacant waiting for me to start a lease 30 days later.

I began my search at the end of October, but got really serious about a week ago. This meant reaching out to contacts, scouring the internet, and walking around the Upper East Side looking at apartments. I always had an eye out for vacancy signs, and any time I went over to a friends’ place, I found myself thinking, What’s the rent? Is there laundry in the building? Fee or no fee? Walk up? What floor? Where’s the nearest subway? Can I hear the neighbors? It was especially painful to visit friends who live in those tall luxury buildings, the ones with normally sized one or two bedrooms with a doorman and, in some Sasquatch apartments, CENTRAL AIR.

In my search, I felt the constant anxiety of not knowing. What was I willing to compromise on? What were my deal-breakers? What if the building didn’t have a laundry room, but the price point was good? What if there was no natural light, but there was laundry and it was only on the third floor? This one was just renovated, including a gourmet kitchen, but the shower is in the living room and the toilet is in the closet and it’s still $2200/month. Jesus take the wheel. I viewed every potential apartment with a discerning cost-benefit juggling act where the stakes felt as high as Russian roulette.

I had this fear of not wanting to settle, but also wanting to wait for my dream apartment, but also not knowing if it even existed. I applied for a couple of places. One I loved and I’m still annoyed they went with a different applicant. The second I almost loved… ok I loved the price and the stabilized rent. But what if I let one go only to realize it was my best option? After seeing about 15 apartments with five different brokers, I wondered if I was being a bit picky. Fun update: I probably saw 30 apartments total before I found one I liked that wasn’t being leased/brokered by Sketchy McSketchPants, III. 

I’ve always been particular about most things. If we were to meet, you might think, But, Marebs, you seem so laid back. You can thank my acting teacher and years of practiced indifference for that illusion. Your girl is HIGH strung. Just ask anyone who has worked with me in a restaurant. If someone put the sugar back in the wrong place, I would exclaim, “WHAT SOCIOPATHIC ANARCHIST PUT THE SUGAR HERE?” Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.

As an introvert, I am also very picky about how I spend my time and with whom. The analytical side of my brain never shuts down, and I find myself using the same criteria to analyze humans as I did when hunting for an apartment. What are your motives for wanting to hang out? Are you funny? This one is nice, but she chews with her mouth open. I find it comforting to live in a world of structure and clear delineations based on my whims and my predilection to sitting on my couch watching The Good Place.

The real world is full of grays. People are complicated and nuanced and unpredictable. People are also delightful and surprising and fascinating. If I sit around judging everyone and waiting for the “perfect” person to waltz into my life, I’m going to miss out on what is right in front of me. I’m also going to be waiting forever, because the perfect person does not exist.

I did find my dream apartment (no fee and all utilities included, praise be), and it was worth the wait. But people are not floor plans. When I’m sitting in my apartment, lonely and feeling sorry for myself, I have to remember to ask God, Who is already in my life? Who is already around me that I might be discounting for the wrong reasons? Who do you want me to reach out to? I haven’t always made the right choice; I’ve forced many-an awkward interaction. But I have been frequently surprised by who comes out of the woodwork.

Author’s note: Part of discernment is learning to recognize toxic relationships and to set boundaries in order to rest and recharge. There is a big difference between someone who is manipulative or abusive and someone who is just weird. There is also a difference between avoidance and healthy rest!


UPDATE: I did not end up signing the lease for that dream apartment. Moral of the story: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


FURTHER UPDATE: I finalized everything for a delightful one bedroom TWENTY-THREE LITERAL HOURS before I had to be out of my studio.