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NewNewYorker of the Week: Li Chen

6 Apr

[An occasional series on readers who’ve moved onward and upward since taking the leap into NYC life. This week we talk to Li Chen, a recent grad from Stony Brook University interning at a startup in New York City.]

My living situation is: Living in Central Park (just kidding!)…staying at a relative’s place in the Bronx.

 My first job in the city was: Social Media Strategist Intern

Li Chen and Charlie Chaplin.

Li Chen and Charlie Chaplin.

My job now is: Social Media Strategist Intern (with more swag)

 The best advice I have for newcomers is: Start doing whatever you have to do to please your parents because you’ll need their financial support.

The toughest time I’ve gone through since moving here is: Having self-doubts about my decision to accept an internship in the city when I live in Long Island.

I can’t imagine my New York life without: A positive attitude. It’s a make-or-break deal in the job market, especially in New York City.

When I was brand new to the city, I can’t believe I: Didn’t know how to properly insert my metro card on the bus.

I’m still learning about: The startup world and cheap eats near Midtown.

My proudest achievement so far has been: Building long lasting relationships with the blogging community.

I’ve been thrilled to meet: Sam Lundin. He personally reached out to me during the days where I was a hopeless full time job hunter in pajama pants all day.

A gem I recently discovered is: This web app called Vimbly. It helps you find and book activities in New York instantly. Tango class anyone?

Something I hope to accomplish this summer is: Sip mango bubble tea under the sun.

Li Chen writes about food adventures and DIY activities. She likes to watch SpongeBob when home alone. You can tweet her for intern advice or just to say hi. If you are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, please call.


GUEST POST: Is a broker right for you?

8 Mar

By Lindsey Wojcik

Searching for an apartment in New York City is like a jungle hunt. In my first experience, I felt like a young lion cub. I prepared for my hunt by making appointments with recommended brokers, with the paperwork to go in for the kill. During my initial hunt, I often felt another species I didn’t fully understand was preying on me: the elusive New York real estate agent or broker.

When I moved to New York in October 2009, I didn’t know anyone. I’ve experienced the hunt and moved three times in my first 13 months in New York. In that time, I learned that  finding a place often becomes a second job and that brokers (for the most part) are here to help. Here’s the lowdown Sarah’s friend Katie gave me before I moved here:

  • Timing is key. Most landlords don’t know if their tenants will be leaving until a month before the lease is up. Once landlords or management companies are notified, they alert brokers throughout the city who then post their listing in their database. It can take awhile to secure a place, especially if you have to discuss finances, involve a guarantor, etc. but a week should be fine.
  • Brokers are going to need paperwork, which can include:
    – Bank statements
    –  The last few pay stubs
    –  Social security card/birth certificate/passport
    – Brokers are very particular and often require:
    –  Tenants to make 40 times the rent
    – Guarantor to make 80 times the rent
    –  A broker’s fee

She also suggested CitiHabitats, Manhattan Apartments, Ardor NY, and management offices of buildings for leads on places.

So we started with appointments at real estate agencies like mentioned above. These agencies often have agents assigned to specific neighborhoods in the five boroughs, mostly focused on Manhattan. In my experience they always require a broker’s fee, equivalent to one month’s rent or a percentage of it.

During my initial hunt, my roommate and I visited these companies with a limited budget, all of our paperwork and a guarantor. After viewing roughly 15 apartments in our price range outside of our desired neighborhoods, we decided to hit Craigslist instead of using the bigwig agencies. If you have a bigger budget and few or no neighborhood preferences, an agency like this may work for you.

Here’s where searching for an apartment becomes like a second job. My roommate and I have used Craigslist for each of the three times we moved.

Scour Craigslist and call about everything of interest to you. The great thing about Craigslist is the apartments are often posted by brokers no-fee and fee-based. If you see something you like, call to inquire. If the specific listing doesn’t work, ask the broker if they have anything else that fits your needs.

If you’re moving from another state, visit the city two to three weeks before you move to look at places and meet with realtors. In my experience, the turnover rate with available apartments is typically two weeks before the move date.

Trust your instincts when dealing with brokers, or anyone from Craigslist. Some may not have your best interest at heart. When the timing is right, you’ll find your apartment.

Guest Post: Diving In

3 Mar

This post originally appeared on the blog Clarissa Explains New York. Thanks this loyal reader for the permission to repost!

This past weekend we planned to meet-up with Sarah Protzman Howlett, author of the blog NewNewYorkers as well as two books about New York. It was nice to meet her in person after having read nearly every one of her posts for insight prior to moving here. She had the adventure she set out in search of and moved back home to Colorado with a new Irish husband and the distinguished pleasure of adding book author to her resume. Although I applaud her courage in moving to New York as a single female, without a job, or a place to live, and also for choosing to leave on her own terms but – I hope she’s wrong when she says in her blog that 3 1/2 in NYC is “everything anyone moving from far away to fulfill a dream would want.”

I think I am going to want more. I think I already do. I’m not sure what my dream is but I know that the fulfillment is out here somewhere. Maybe it’s just being here on this goose chase. Everyone is always so surprised when I tell them I’m from Texas and I have only been here for four months and I LOVE IT. They want to hear about my culture shock, my inability to adjust, and my sorrow for having moved here in the first place. I don’t know how but Paul and I really did dive right in to this new life. We embraced it full on and as of now we are in it for the long haul.

But talking to Sarah did make me think about the things I miss back in Texas: family, friends, my running group, my students, the ease of life – always knowing everything about the city, and of course my kind of Tex-Mex.  So it was really lucky that when I got hungry we were a block away from Rosa Mexicano. They filled my belly with table side guacamole, chicken quesadillas, steak fajitas and warm tortillas (and they scored an A with just 4 pts!). Lunch was fabulous but venturing into Chelsea and entertaining ourselves with the architecture, the window shopping, Chelsea Piers, & Chelsea Market was even better. We walked and wandered so much I was too tired to go up to the High Line, which is an elevated park in Chelsea. Another time I suppose.