Writer Charles Bukowski said: "In New York you’ve got to have all the luck." He's right. And you've got to learn all the lessons. Because to survive this city is to be wrung by it and still be left intact, wrinkled by wisdom. It's not an easy city to live in, literally and figuratively, but it's a city in which you can live well, bank balance notwithstanding, if you know how to navigate it. Here, what we learned the hard way, real estate-wise, so you don't have to (though this being NYC, it'll probably end up schooling you, anyway):
• That joke about the $20 daily tax (in other words, you'll wind up spending $20 on things you won't even remember)? It's kind of true in a city where a plain cup of coffee can set you back $3 and a cookie $4.95. So gird yourself against temptations and be prepared to just say no.
• Never leave a roommate situation without getting off the lease — you're still on the hook until then — and make sure to get your portion of the security deposit back. (For more tips, here's our no-nonsense guide to kicking out your roommate.)
• Don't take roommate recommendations from someone who's never actually lived with the person. (That's how one Brick editor wound up with a hygiene-impaired — intermittent showers, grossness during her time of the month — hippie.)
• Sticky, adhesive mouse traps are not the humane option. Unless you want to watch them sit there and starve. (Learn about a better way to deal with your rodent problem.)
• Don't move into a ground floor apartment without bars on the windows or a proper deadbolt. One word: break-in. (Still, street-level living doesn't completely suck.)
• When it comes to fruit flies, the best defense is a good offense: Clean up after yourself and eat your fruit before it gets overripe. And if you're composting, here's how to make it work without being inundated by bugs.
• Don't buy a white trash can for your kitchen, it'll get disgusting immediately.
• You should probably stick to roommates your own age. Our questionnaire can help you determine compatibility.
• When the rental broker tells you there's another application on the apartment, be skeptical. They might be pressuring you to move quickly so they can be done with the deal. And you may very well find yourself signing a lease on an apartment you don't love. (Or maybe that was just another of our editors.)
• You don't have to pay a broker fee. Aside from the no-fee websites, if there's a large building you're interested, you can call the management company directly to see if there are any apartments available.
• Some real estate issues can be addressed — buy a dresser to mitigate a lack of closets; floor rugs can mask worn hardwood — and some will drive you crazy forever, like the raucous bar below you or the too-small rooms that barely fit your bed or the brick wall that faces your window and makes any attempt at brightening up your room feeble. Figure out what you can live with, and what you can't.
• Don't underestimate the importance of getting along with your neighbors. They can make your life hell, and managing an all-out battle royale situation isn't easy.