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8 things I Learnt While Getting an Apartment in New York.


We’re finally in our new apartment. Here’s what I wasn’t expecting…


“I’m a bit red and I can feel my knee beating…” – Anna telling me why she thought she had had enough to drink on Saturday.

If this post doesn’t make much sense, well, we don’t have curtains in our bedroom yet thanks to Ikea (more on those bastards later) so I’m operating on, at most, about four hours sleep, plus there is a Maury marathon on (current episode: “I’m only 19… Is the 3rd man I’m testing my baby’s father?”) therefore I may be a little distracted, so please bear with me.
We finally moved into our new abode yesterday and, to be honest, the process of getting here has been somewhat of a nightmare. On the positive side, our new joint is quite big and really nice. I’d take more photos, but we’re still waiting on some furniture to arrive, plus there are a bunch of empty boxes lying around everywhere that I can’t be assed taking down to garbage disposal in the basement yet, so here is a photo of our living room, sans coffee table:

I can handle this for a year.

I can handle this for a year.

Over the past 28 days we have had to deal with constant delays, endless red tape and just simple little things we never realised before or didn’t expect. Besides what I wrote in this post, here are some more that come to mind:

  1. My wife can be an insanely focused maniac when it comes to planning and it is terrifying!
    When there are major events occurring in our lives Anna is the most organised person you could ever want handling the situation and it is great, but sometimes she steps it up to another level that is just frighteningly obsessive. Previously, I had only witnessed this side of her twice; When planning our wedding and when organising our house renovations back in Singapore. When Anna’s in this mode the only conversations you will ever have will be about what she’s planning. She won’t even say “hello” when she walks in the door, she’ll just go straight into the latest details and it won’t stop until she’s asleep. If I try to talk about something else, the conversation will end up back at what she’s planning, generally with no segue. There’s nothing I can do to help, either, because she’ll just redo whatever I have done to make sure it was done properly or to her standards and expectations. Admittedly, it makes things easy for me, because I don’t need to really use independent thought, I just follow orders and make cups of tea. One thing’s for sure, though: Anna is extremely efficient and she gets it done!
  2. There are so many rules about moving into and out of a building here.
    You can not move on a weekend, which is just plain ridiculous. If you want to move, you need to take a day off work!  Not only that, but, in our building anyway, you can only move between 9:00am and 5:00pm. Also, I’ve mentioned the insurance forms that are required, plus you need to leave a cheque for $1500 at each location to cover any damage that may be caused in the moving process.
  3. Ikea. Enough said

    Ikea. Enough said

    Ikea is the antichrist!
    I’ve always hated going to Ikea, be it a combination of the crowds, the poor quality goods with missing parts, those disgusting, rancid meatballs, but we’re only here for 12 months, so it makes sense to just try do it cheaply. But then there is the general incompetence on Ikea’s behalf that follows. Anna ordered our bright red sofa online from Ikea and it took them almost a week to give us a delivery time and date, which happened to be yesterday, the day we were moving in, between 2:00pm and 6:00pm. She explained that it needs to be before 5:00pm and they said they would do it. At 5:58pm yesterday evening, Anna received an automated phone call that she could not respond to that said there was a delay in the delivery. The delivery finally arrived around 6:30pm and, due to reasons in #2 in this list, the doorman told the delivery driver that it was too late and he couldn’t allow the delivery, as the insurance wouldn’t cover it and that they’d need to return tomorrow. As the delivery guy was calling his boss, the doorman took pity on us when he figured we had spent the whole day moving only to have nowhere to sit. In the end, the doorman allowed the delivery, only if the Ikea man never entered the building, I brought in the sofa, assembled it myself (which was probably a prerequisite, anyway) and assured him I would not sue if I was injured. Other things we had purchased from them had parts missing, the main one being the curtains for our bedroom. These curtains required special hooks, but they don’t bother to tell you that they’re not in the box, so no bedroom curtains for us, thus, not a lot of sleep. I realised I was getting old last night when I was trying to find a place that sold the hooks. I remember thinking to myself, “There are so many cool bars and bottle shops in our neighbourhood, but I really wish there was just one curtain shop, as well”. I definitely cashed in my man card.

  4. You don’t realise how much you miss TV until you have one again after not having a TV for an extended period of time.
    When we lived in Germany we had a TV, but the only English channel we had was CNN. Luckily, I had a hard drive with a bunch of movies and TV shows on it. When we moved to New York, our apartment didn’t have a TV, however, there was a  communal one in the recreation room, but it only got one channel; ABC. What that meant was we only got to watch shit like The Bachelor, The View and Rachel Ray, so we didn’t bother. Now we have cable TV with almost 1000 channels and it’s not like I’m hooked on TV, but I like having it on in the background when I’m doing other things, like writing this blog. By the way, the current Maury episode on now is “I’m pregnant with our 3rd child… I need to know if you’re cheating!”. I still haven’t finished watching Sharknado 3 yet, either.
  5.  New York apartments aren’t as small as everybody says.
    Sure, apartments are not as large as they appear in Friends or Seinfeld, but they’re not as small as everybody that’s lived here complains they are, either. We’ve got a decent sized, one bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen and heaps of storage on East 35th Street in Manhattan in a great spot at a good price. It’s a mansion compared to the apartment I had when I lived in Korea, because I could touch three walls of that place at the same time. Seriously. Also, there is no way Jerry could’ve got approved for that apartment in Seinfeld without a guarantor, because he was a stand-up comic with no fixed income. Then there’s Kramer…
  6. For reasons I’ll never understand, most apartments don’t have ceiling lights in the living room.
    It was something I kept noticing when we were looking for an apartment, none of them had ceiling lights in the living room. I asked a few people and they all said that was pretty standard. Our current place has ceiling lights in the kitchen, bathroom and entrance. None in the living room or bedroom. If you are planning on moving to New York, be prepared to by some lamps.
  7. Besides Ikea, delivery services here are great!
    Besides Ikea, everyone who has been delivering stuff for us, especially Aptdeco, have been really punctual and efficient. The Russian removalists we used yesterday were incredible, they were careful, fast and they could lift stuff I couldn’t even move! Plus, they felt guilty asking for water! Really cool guys.
  8. Never did I think I’d live in an apartment where I could see the Chrysler Building from my bedroom window.
    Sure, you can only see the top of it, but it still counts.

    If you look closely you can see the spire.

    If you look closely you can see the spire.

    Well, now that this is finished I better go to the old place and clean up a bit. Okay, Jerry Springer‘s on now, so it might have to wait. Today’s episode: “Blindsided by my bro.”

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About Dr. Tan's Travels (96 Articles)
My name's Tim. I'm a freelance writer and former ESL teacher from Melbourne, Australia, who taught in Daejeon, Korea for six months in 2007 and, until February 2015, had taught in Singapore for seven years. My wife, Anna, is an ophthalmologist. Between March 2015 and July 2016 we spent a month in Pondicherry, India, three months in Bonn, Germany, and 12 months in New York before returning to Singapore, all for training and work placements for her. The reason I wanted to keep this blog is because I suffer from epilepsy and have a terrible memory, therefore this would be a great way to help me remember our travels. I will do my best to keep it updated and even continue writing now that we're back in Singapore, but there is one problem; I have a pretty severe phobia of anything medical.

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