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Finding Small and Smaller in the West Village

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If reading The Hunt stokes your deepest hopes that someday everything in life could work out, then you, too, are obsessed with the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section. Join us as we venture into the depths of this weekend's installment.

Alexa Battista used to live in a share in the Financial District, but when the rent got too high she decided to get a little studio of her own in the West Village. She saw some tiny apartments (150 square feet!) or some that were just too overpriced. After a stressful search, she found a walk-up with enough room that fit into her budget.

-So Ms. Battista, 24, decided she would spend less for “a small, cozy studio I could call my own,” in her favorite part of town, the West Village.
With a budget of up to $1,600 a month, she knew the place would be — well, small and cozy. -One client, however, pointed her to a studio at Sullivan Mews in SoHo, which was close to the West Village and, better still, rented for just $1,500. “I thought I had found a great deal,” she said.

-She changed her mind when she arrived. The apartment was on the ground floor, facing an interior courtyard. She found it dark and depressing, and estimated its size at 150 square feet.

-For a rent of $1,650 she found a sunny fourth-floor apartment in a walk-up co-op building on Perry Street in the West Village. She estimated this one at 200 square feet. “It looked very shabby-chic,” she said. The closet was narrow but deep, with two rods, one in front of the other.

-But the lease terms were troubling. She was offered a six-month lease, and it wasn’t clear whether she would be able to remain after that, or for how long.

-A management company told her of a studio on Christopher Street, also in the West Village. The place was in a 20-unit building with a tattoo parlor on the ground floor. The departing tenant was paying $1,800.

-“It was huge and really nice and a perfect location,” Ms. Battista said. Her estimate this time was 400 square feet. But the minuscule bathroom lacked a sink. “Where would I wash my hands?” she said. “How would I have guests over? My friends talked me out of it.”

-But Ms. Battista came upon an intriguing West Village listing, with lovely pictures, from Village Living Realty. “I had never heard of them, which I thought was strange,” she said. The rent was $1,700, but “everything I had seen in the $1,650 range was terrible.”

-The studio, on the top floor of a five-story walk-up building on Washington Street, had around 300 square feet, which was enough for her furniture.

-The following week, she filled out the paperwork for the apartment. The fee was 12 percent of a year’s rent, or almost $2,500. “Sometimes there’s no way around it,” she said.

· A Small, Cozy Studio To Call Her Own [NYT]