Blake Bejan knew that moving from San Francisco to Manhattan would be an adjustment, but he never imagined that owning a queen-size bed would be a problem. Or that having the space for a dresser and some shelves could be considered a luxury.
That’s what he discovered last October, when he was considering a studio in Chelsea. Time was running out, as he had to move out of the temporary housing his employer, Uber Eats, had arranged for him.
“I really, really liked the spot. I really wanted it to work,” said Mr. Bejan, 25. “So I eyeballed it. I said, ‘I think I can make this work.’ I jumped into the decision because I was feeling rushed.”
But then Mr. Bejan compared the apartment’s measurements to those of the bed, dresser and shelves he was having shipped from California, where he had shared a two-bedroom apartment, and realized they wouldn’t fit.
“My bed alone would have come right up to the edge of the kitchen island,” Mr. Bejan said. “I would have been climbing over my furniture just to move around.”
He didn’t want to buy all new furniture: It wasn’t as if his furniture was preposterously proportioned; it wasn’t even particularly large.
“For me, an apartment is not just a place to store my body at night,” Mr. Bejan said. “I didn’t want my bed to be the primary surface in the apartment.”
He got out of the deal, but then had only one day to find a new place before leaving for a vacation in Amsterdam. As he worked in West Chelsea, he had been looking on the West Side, but most of the apartments he had seen were small walk-ups with challenging layouts. Consulting a transit map — which he had used to guide his search, an easy commute being his only other priority — he decided to change tack and head east.
$2,325 | Murray Hill, Manhattan
Blake Bejan, 25
Occupation: Marketing manager, Uber Eats
Apartment hunting in New York vs. California: “I had to consider air-conditioning for the first time in my life,” said Mr. Bejan, who is from San Jose and has lived in San Francisco since college.
On using a broker: The broker’s fee gave him pause, but using a broker turned out to be a big help. “I was so overwhelmed seeing apartments,” he said, “and they kept certain things in mind.”
Good and bad surprises: A dishwasher, which he wasn’t expecting, and noise from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. “At 6 a.m., it’s loud as hell,” he said. “I made a sound dampener out of a board and foam, and bear-cage myself in most mornings.”
The best things about New York: “I really like the people. I think they’re really genuine here; people in San Francisco can be fake.” Plus, the music scene in Brooklyn and the food. “I love Levain Bakery. I recently took visiting friends through Central Park and strategically navigated us through the park to end up there.”
As he and his real estate agent, Marien Richardson of Citi Habitats, toured listings around Murray Hill and Kip’s Bay, they kept bumping into another apartment seeker and his broker.
“Sometimes we’d be there first, sometimes they’d be before us. I was like, ‘O.K., you’re my competition.’” Mr. Bejan said. “It was really intense.”
At a building in the East 30s, the unit they had come to see wasn’t available for viewing — the tenant was in the midst of moving out — but the one below was empty.
For $2,325 a month, the apartment was not too small but not too large. There was a small entrance hall and space for not only all the furniture he owned, including the bed, but also for a small sofa. Plus, there was laundry in the building and an unexpected bonus, a dishwasher. And if the view was nothing much — the one window faced a brick wall — at least the wall was on other side of a street, so there was natural light.
He was told that the apartment above had a newer floor and stainless steel appliances, but it also cost about $75 more a month. “I don’t need that stuff that bad. This floor is fine; it’s not like it’s ruining my life,” he said of his older parquet.
He put in an application and hoped for the best. The response came fast: Because he didn’t meet the landlord’s income requirements and neither of his parents lived in the tristate area, so they couldn’t act as guarantors, the landlord wanted four months’ rent as security deposit.
“I was like, ‘I don’t have that much money!’” Mr. Bejan said. The first month’s rent was being offered free, but he still had to come up with last month’s rent and the broker’s fee. He offered two months’ rent as a security deposit and the landlord countered with three. The discussion stopped there.
“I really wanted it, ” Mr. Bejan said. “But I didn’t have the three months, so I was like, ‘Oh well.’”
He was on his way to the airport the next afternoon when he got a call. The landlord would take two months’ security deposit, but he needed to sign the documents in person and bring a check. Waiting until he got back was not an option. After much pleading, they finally agreed to a virtual document signing and a wire transfer, followed by a visit to the office upon his return.
In November, when Mr. Bejan moved in, his furniture fit even better than he had expected it to: The alcove along one wall is the perfect size for his bed. And the bed isn’t the primary surface in the apartment; it’s not even the first thing people see when they walk in.
The apartment is spacious enough to have a few friends over for a drink before going out on Friday nights. And it doesn’t feel claustrophobic on Saturdays, when he likes to be a homebody.
The only thing he is not in love with is Murray Hill. “It’s fine. It’s convenient, but it feels a bit generic,” he said. “In the future, I’ll look at a transit map, but also do a neighborhood overlay.”