Mississippi Digital News

For Her First New York City Apartment, She Wanted a Place Downtown. Which Home Would You Choose?


After spending six years crisscrossing the country for work, Arielle Nissenblatt decided last year that it was time to move to New York City.

“Not because I had to, but because I wanted to,” said Ms. Nissenblatt, 28, a Binghamton University graduate who grew up in White Plains, N.Y.

She had always had roommates, but now she wanted an apartment to herself. “I have lived with other people for so long, and I am grossed out by other people’s hair in the drain,” she said. “I wanted it to be my own hair.”

Ms. Nissenblatt works remotely as the community manager for SquadCast.fm, a remote recording platform that serves podcasters. She also runs her own podcast recommendation newsletter, EarBuds Podcast Collective.

Her first job out of college, though, was in Jewish education in Jackson, Miss., where she paid $400 a month to live in “my favorite house I think I will ever live in,” she said. The three-bedroom bungalow had a front-porch swing and a backyard trampoline.

“I loved this house, but my friends were, like, ‘Your house is falling apart,’” she said.

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After that, she spent some time living in St. Louis, Los Angeles and Portland, Maine, before setting her sights on New York, where most of her friends from school and camp lived on the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And all of them “had roommates and flex walls,” she said.

Ms. Nissenblatt wanted to try someplace new, preferably downtown. She was hoping to find a one-bedroom with an updated interior. If she found a two-bedroom that she could afford, she planned to use the second bedroom as an office.

She soon discovered, however, that listings can be deceptive. What appeared to be a sunny place with pristine appliances often turned out to be dark and run-down. “I was shocked by how different an apartment looked between photos and in-person viewings,” she said.

A good friend, Naomi Pollack, who was living near Stuyvesant Town, accompanied Ms. Nissenblatt to some viewings.

They saw one East Village apartment in a walk-up co-op building that “had a huge bedroom, a Westchester-size bedroom,” Ms. Nissenblatt said. But some appliances weren’t working: One stove burner would not light, and the outgoing tenant was using the dishwasher to store dishes.

Still, the roominess of the apartment appealed to Ms. Pollack. “My big thing was space, space, space,” she said. “That’s the thing you are going to value the most while working remotely, cooped up in your apartment. I would not care if one of the burners was broken.”

But Ms. Nissenblatt cared. She wanted things to work, or to be repaired if they didn’t. “My mom said, ‘This is probably not the landlord that you want,’” she said.

With a budget of up to $2,000 a month, though, it was becoming clear that finding what she was looking for in New York City wouldn’t be easy. “I was really disillusioned by prices, because in Mississippi I paid, like, $400,” Ms. Nissenblatt said. “It was so hard to fathom paying five times that.”

Among her options:

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