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.
James Marotta bought a studio in Midtown East for $372,000 thinking that the 550 square feet would be more than enough for him. What our friend didn't know was that life doesn't care what you're planning, and obviously he fell in love and got a puppy to boot. Next thing you know, the puppy is a full blown dog and the space is getting more cramped by the day. James and his now live-in girlfriend Karen decide to check out some places in Jersey City, hoping for a big two bedroom for around $3,000 a month. What they didn't see coming was the fees. So many fees. After a a rocky search, their persistence paid off and they even got to move in next door to some friends.
In a stronger market, they might have sold their co-op. But values of similar units in the building had dipped and were hovering around $360,000. So they decided to rent their place out and hunt for a two-bedroom two-bath rental in a calmer locale. Mrs. Marotta’s best childhood friend and her husband owned a condominium in Jersey City, so the Marottas knew the area was filled with new high-rise rental buildings. A 30-day unlimited PATH ticket was just $54. So they decided their best bet was Jersey City.
As soon as they began searching, their budget rose well beyond $3,000 a month, from $2,500.
They loved the views from the big windows at Aquablu, the newest of the Newport complex’s rental buildings. The monthly rent for two-bedroom two-bath apartments was in the low to high $3,000s. The pet fee was $300 per pet per year.
Next up was the Pier, where two-bedrooms rent in the $3,000s. The pet fee was $500 per pet, plus a pet rent of $75 a month. There was a $500 one-time fee for amenities, a monthly charge of $200 for parking, and a flat monthly fee ($95 for a one-bedroom and $122 for a two-bedroom)
At every building they saw, he asked immediately about extra fees.
Meanwhile, they were monitoring Craigslist, intrigued by an ad for a two-bedroom two-bath apartment in the A Condominiums, where their friends lived.
But this was a sublet. The rent was $3,100 furnished, plus $200 for parking. Over two months, the rent dropped. The parking fee vanished. The place was offered unfurnished.
And, it turned out, the apartment was next door to their friends’.
The Marottas signed a two-year lease for $2,900 a month — which covered them, their dog and their new car — and moved in two months ago.
Meanwhile, through a StreetEasy ad, the Marottas quickly found a couple to rent their alcove studio for $2,300 a month. Their pet-friendly co-op has relatively lax rules when it comes to allowing renters, except for one thing: It charges them $300 a month for a pet.