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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

Why is NYC different?

Before I came to NYC to look for a place, I knew that getting an apartment there would be a hassle- but not for the reasons I expected.

 New York is notorious for its high cost of housing.  But I’m actually not paying much more for rent than I did in Washington six years ago ($1350 or so there, $1600 here- allowing for inflation, no real change- and here, I have a bigger apartment, albeit in a less centrally located neighborhood). 

 The difference between New York and Washington is the “hassle factor.”  Getting an apartment in Washington is like getting an apartment in Anywhere, U.S.A.- you write a check for rent and a check for security deposit, the landlord spends a day or two on a credit check, and you’re in.

 By contrast, in New York, writing a check is just the beginning of the process. Often you have to pay a broker’s fee.  Even if you don’t, you have to go through much more scrutiny.  I’m renting in a co-op (which is something like a New York version of a condo).  I had to fill out a 30-page form (including a financial statement), pay stubs from my last job, a letter from my employer in my new job, bank statements from all my banks, and tax returns for the past two years.  Why is New York different?


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