1BR, Lower East Side

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  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Robert Balog, 37, creative director at an ad agency
Rent:
$2,800
Broker's fee: 15% ($5,040)
Broker: Tony Wilson, Citi Habitats (646-872-9072, citi-habitats.com, towilson@citi-habitats.com)
Moved in: November 2010

The search: "I used a broker; I was really busy at work, and the problem with Craigslist is you end up chasing phantoms. You'll see a place listed, they'll say, 'We don't have that place but here's this other place,' and you realize the first place never really existed. Or they use a wide lens to make a room that's five square feet look like it's 20. I just didn't really have time for that. So I met with a broker and I said, 'I don't want to see anything that's a guess or that's crap, just because you think it has charm.' And he was great, he brought me to the right places. I'm not sure I saw anything I wouldn't have been able to find myself on Craigslist, but for me, to have someone preselect and prescreen things so I didn't have to take days and days off work, that worked for me."

The area: "When I moved, I told the broker my ideal location in the entire city would be Orchard and Broome. Now I'm at Orchard and Grand, and actually it's perfect. There's some kind of invisible barrier along Delancey that keeps the madness at bay, so there's a bit more of a sophisticated vibe, but it maintains that edge that I like about the Lower East Side. And it's close to the madness if that's what you want. What originally drew me to the neighborhood was actually Barrio Chino [253 Broome St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts; 212-228-6710, barriochinonyc.com]; we West Coasters always lament the lack of Mexican food in New York, and this place is fantastic. And across from the restaurant is my favorite building in New York, with the exception of the Chrysler Building, this old tenement that is now a bit dingy but has these rounded, ornate fire escapes on it. It's really, really lovely. The area also has personal history for me: My mom used to come down to Orchard Street with my great-grandmother to buy yarn when she was a little girl."

The apartment: "It's a new building, I think I'm only the second tenant to have lived in the apartment. I have mixed feelings about it, because what makes the Lower East Side so great is the architecture, and I'm living in a place that probably replaced something great. That gives me some qualms. But I like the fact that it's reliable and well kept, and by and large it respects the neighborhood. It's not one of these 30-story towers. It's really nice, they did a nice job on it."

The best thing: "I'm on the eighth floor with a nice big balcony, which I love. It's east-facing and nonobstructed, so I get fantastic light in the morning. It's open and airy, spacious; it's at the back of the building, so it's quiet, and it's really a bit of a haven. I love it, almost too much so. I have a hard time leaving it on weekends."

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