Tue Apr 26 2011
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Lily Breeland, 23, middle school teacher; Kate Hayes, 23, program and development assistant at an education nonprofit; Amanda Kusek (right), 23, executive assistant
Broker's fee: None
Broker: Joe Davila, Fenwick Keats Real Estate (917-771-3787, email@example.com)
Moved in: August 2010
The search: "All three of us [roommates] graduated from college in May 2010, so my knowledge of apartment hunting was very limited—I had been living in a dorm for four years," Kusek says. "We picked one Sunday to take the Metro-North in from Stamford, Connecticut, and scour the city. Toward the end of the day, a real-estate broker we found in a listing on The New York Times' website called and wanted to see us right away. And this place was just perfect. It was a fluke."
The area: "There are grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, everything, just steps away," Kusek says. "We wound up on the same block as the Langston Hughes house. As an English major and a historical nut, it was almost too good to be true for me. New York City is full of history, but I feel like East Harlem still lives and breathes that history."
The broker: "Joe was willing to work with us and advocate for us, even though I was unemployed at the time and our guarantor was out of state. Since we didn't live in the city, we had to communicate by phone, e-mail and FedEx, and he never complained. It was also to his advantage that he lives in the same building."
The apartment: "There is a living room and a second space with French doors that we call the study. The French doors are one of my favorite things," Kusek says. "They're beautiful, and I feel like I'm in the South for some reason. We have so much space that we can push [our furniture] away and create an epic dance floor."
The perks: "There is so much light! We have two big southern-facing windows that let in the sunrise and sunset," Kusek says. "We also have a palm tree named Elizabeth, who made the journey from Ikea in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to East Harlem on public transportation."
The best thing: "Having just graduated, low rent was a must. My student loans are ridiculous," Kusek says. "Even though we don't have laundry, the Laundromat is just two blocks away, and carrying loads all the way up five floors has really done wonders for my arms and behind."