After her graduation from Columbia Law School last spring, Caroline Turner returned home to the Washington, D.C., area to study for the bar exam. In late summer, with the exam behind her and a job in New York in the financial district ahead, she began the hunt for a place to rent.
Ms. Turner, a 2013 graduate of American University, had a budget of $3,000 to $3,500 a month for a one-bedroom. She needed a place that would allow a large dog, preferably in the East Village and preferably with a dishwasher and a washer-dryer.
Doing laundry “makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something,” she said. “In law school, you don’t really have assignments. You just have the end-of-a-semester exam, so to feel like I was accomplishing things that weren’t studying, I would do laundry.”
Unfamiliar with many city neighborhoods, Ms. Turner contacted Lindsay Dalberth, a saleswoman at Mdrn. Residential, who had helped a friend. Ms. Dalberth warned her that a dishwasher and a washer-dryer were rare in the East Village, where the housing stock consists primarily of old-law tenement walk-up buildings, though many apartments have been redone inside.
Ms. Turner, 26, checked out a ground-floor apartment, for $3,100, conveniently located across from Tompkins Square Park and its dog run. The apartment faced a row of trash cans. “We had to walk through a swarm of flies to get in,” Ms. Turner said. That wouldn’t do.
She liked an apartment for $3,125 a month, small but nice, on St. Marks Place. But such a busy street wouldn’t be good for Moose, her golden retriever. “It can get difficult to navigate walking the dog on a leash when there’s a ton of people,” she said.
She also liked a nearby fifth-floor walk-up — sunny, recently renovated, with a washer-dryer and a dishwasher, for $3,195 a month.
Pocket doors separated the living area from the sleeping area, and there was a little balcony and a roof deck entered by a kind of hatchway “where you pull the cord and the stairs come down,” Ms. Dalberth said. The place was being painted a nice shade of pale gray. “That’s probably a really bad reason to pick an apartment,” Ms. Turner said. In any event, she had other places to see.
Ms. Turner gravitated toward apartments still occupied by the departing renter, where she could see the furniture in place. “If somebody else made it work, I knew I could also make it work,” she said.
She declined one with a combination washer-dryer that reminded her of “the little toys that kids have, like an Easy-Bake Oven.”
A sublet arose in the 1929 co-op building Ageloff Towers on East Third Street. But the apartment, for $3,700 a month, seemed too expensive and was nearly double the size of the others she had seen. “I am not going to be in it enough to really justify getting a much bigger apartment,” Ms. Turner said. She feared the need for co-op board approval might cause delays, and wasn’t sure whether she would be able to renew the lease indefinitely.
The hunt quickly grew tiresome. “It seemed the same kind of thing over and over,” she said.
So she chose the place she liked best, the fifth-floor walk-up with the gray paint, paying a broker fee of one month’s rent and arriving shortly before starting work.
The neighborhood is, just as she thought it would be, ideal for a dog. Moose romps in the Tompkins Square dog run with his dog friends. “It’s nice to have him run around without me having to run around,” Ms. Turner said.
With her long and unpredictable hours as a first-year associate, she found a dog day care service that would drop off Moose at day’s end. “I come home to my apartment and he is magically here,” she said.
She doesn’t mind the many stairs. Moose, still a pup, gets tired from bounding up, “so by the time he gets back into the apartment, he is not hyperactive anymore,” she said.
Ms. Turner didn’t initially notice her apartment’s slanted floors. But now, despite her efforts to level the bed, “it’s to the extent where I am afraid that it’s breaking my bed frame,” she said. Sometimes dresser drawers open on their own, “kind of like it’s haunted.” She rearranged the furniture to account for the slope.
Friends told her she should have tested apartments by bringing something to roll on the floor, like a pencil, but that never occurred to her.
She is glad that she needn’t carry her laundry up and down stairs, but her ventless condenser dryer takes a long time to finish a load.
“That’s another thing I wouldn’t think about,” Ms. Turner said. Doing the laundry “is not as exciting as I anticipated.”