Kelsey Blodget — the manager of editorial operations at Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor Company — moved to New York City from California in 2008. In this interview, she shares real estate woes, wishes and thrills. Have your own real estate story to tell? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. When did you move to New York City? Describe your first apartment — how did it compare to your expectations of New York living?
I moved to New York City in the summer of 2008 and my first apartment was this teensy tiny three-bedroom in Gramercy that I shared with two other girls. My bedroom had room for a bed — and that’s about it. There was a tiny galley kitchen, and my mom was scandalized when she came to visit and didn’t understand how we could cook anything. We didn’t cook much!
2. What was the biggest real estate challenge you encountered? How did you overcome it?
Buying our first apartment! We lived in this rent stabilized apartment in East Williamsburg for four years to save up — my now fiancé found it before I moved in and it was … not my favorite apartment. There were slanted floors, pests and a host of other problems. But we saved money and finally started looking seriously to get our first real home together. It took about a year of looking (and five offers, all significantly over asking price) before we got a place.
3. What was your happiest real estate moment? What led up to that moment?
Finally closing on our first apartment! It was such a long process and by far the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. It was such a relief to have it all over with and to get to move in. For the first month living there we could hardly believe it. After our apartment with the slanted floor, it felt like a fairytale. I would be taking a shower and think — it is so lovely not to be grossed out by the bathroom! We just relished getting to live there and decorate and settle in.
4. Describe your current apartment. What do you love about it? What do you love about your neighborhood?
I wanted a fireplace, and my fiancé, Steve, wanted a backyard or roof deck. We knew it would probably be impossible to have both — so we focused on outdoor space in our hunt. But by some miracle the fifth apartment we made an offer on did have both — it was incredibly rare in our price range. It was the best apartment we looked at and the one we ended up buying!
We had realtors tell us early on in the hunt that these are features people think they want but don’t actually use. I’m happy to say they were wrong — we barbecued constantly after we moved in last August, and used the fireplace all winter. We also absolutely love living in Clinton Hill — the architecture is so stunning and we love just walking around and admiring the buildings. Williamsburg was so much fun, but its aesthetic is a bit gritty. Clinton Hill is beautiful, there are great restaurants, and it’s miraculously still a bit cheaper than some of the other neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
5. What is the one piece of advice you would give to people looking for an apartment in New York?
Be persistent! Real estate in New York City is crazy. If you are buying, expect bidding wars and be prepared for that!