Recently I found myself in a haze of scrolling during which I came across a TikTok account called "Farkakte Apartments." Each of these toks features a cute gal in a black watch cap and bright red lipstick named Stephanie who pretends to be a recognizable type of fast-talking NYC realtor. The farkakte apartments she shows you are mostly in Bushwick and Crown Heights. Though the account only has 10 videos so far, I would say there is UNLIMITED potential for growth here, based on my 20+ years of experience searching for and inhabiting farkakte apartments in NYC. Stephanie says things like "there are no closets, but you don't NEED closets, you're CREATIVE!" and "you don't want to live here? Fine! There are three woo girls from Wisconsin who are dying to move into a place like this." The 2 bed 1 bath apartments she's touring all rent for upwards of $4000. They are all, it goes without saying, farkakte. The vast majority of apartments are farkakte, but of course a tiny percentage are not, and that sliver of possibility is what keeps fools like me glued to Streeteasy and Zillow long into the night.
My/our endless curiosity is especially dumb when you consider that, generally speaking, there really are ONLY FOUR RENTAL APARTMENTS IN NEW YORK, with slight (but consequential) permutations.
The sliced up part of an older building that a developer has shunted appliances into wherever they could fit and divided up into as many "bedrooms" as possible, leading to nonsensical layouts and the very real possibility that your oven won't have space to open because its door is blocked by the fridge. These apartments are located in buildings that began their life as single family dwellings or tenements or rooming houses or warehouses or commercial space. It doesn't really matter. The only thing they have in common is those buildings are located in a neighborhood that has recently become more desirable, so some enterprising person with 200 different LLCs that are all variants on the same name gutted the interior and threw Home Depot's second-cheapest sink in front of a tile backsplash that looks like a closeup of a pixelated image along a wall that really ought to be a hallway. These apartments are enticing because they CAN look nice in photos, they are in a good location, and sometimes they get nice light. You might be tempted to think "With some TLC and personal touches, this apartment can overcome its oddness and become a real home!" Alas, it cannot, because there is literally no place in it where it would ever make sense to put a couch or a table. The ones in the "digital rendering" could not exist in reality, for the same reasons that Barbie, if she were somehow transformed into a flesh and blood human, would immediately snap in half.
Would you like this apartment to contain luxurious amenities such as a dishwasher or a place to wash one's clothes? No problem! That will be an additional $2000/month, and the rest of the apartment is still made of shit.
The apartment that has always been an apartment. Yay, you did it! You won the jackpot! You found an apartment that, for better or worse, has been a site of human habitation for its entire lifespan. It was actually no problem -- all you did was look for rental apartments in a condo or coop building, or a rental building in a neighborhood with lots of old buildings whose day to day operations are supervised by absentee landlords/management companies. These apartments are sometimes in great shape, with newish appliances that are located in places that make sense -- kitchens that are their own entire separate rooms, for instance, which apparently used to be a standard thing that even non-rich people could expect from their homes. (Having a "kitchen/dining/living room," ie having the entire non-bathroom non-bedroom space of your apartment be one fetid terrarium of humanity, is the norm for new construction, probably for reasons of design efficiency, ie, it's easier to design a stack of boxes than a stack of non-boxes. Also probably HGTV is to blame somehow. An "open plan kitchen" could make sense in a big suburban McMansion, but in a 700 square foot apartment? You'd think someone might have at some point noticed that not everyone wants to only ever be in the kitchen or in bed. BUT I DIGRESS.)
Anyway, yay. It's an apartment that makes some kind of fundamental sense. And even better, since you're not renting from NEWCORP2020LLC PARTNERS INC, but from either humans who own the place or a management company that has some kind of stake in keeping the whole building long-term habitable, you have some avenues for remediation when things go awry. Which they will, because this building is old. The water might be off sometimes -- it'll come back on soon, in a couple of days at the most. The heat comes from radiators, which you definitely can't control except by turning them all the way off. Window units are your best bet for air conditioning, but your building probably has pretty specific rules about who can install them and how and when. It's a big building and some of your neighbors might be absent-minded or very old or even dead and not discovered for days, so there are going to be mice and roaches. There just are. The hallway will always smell like floor wax at best, cooking smells and cigarettes at next-best, and rank garbage covered with industrial air freshener at worst.
Could you have a dishwasher? Maybe! A washer-dryer? Oh my GOD, no, haha, are you insane? Laundry facilities are in the dimmest, grimiest, darkest basement, and every time you go down there by yourself you are inevitably going to prepare for getting murdered. A laundromat is located 10 blocks away, past a depressing stretch of large old buildings that are all pretty much identical to your large old building. You'll also have to make this same trek if you want, say, some milk or a lemon, because that is what all neighborhoods with lots of available apartments in their big old buildings are like.
The new construction/"luxury" building. Woohoo, look at you, fancy! Your apartment is in a vaguely Miami-ish building with these massive, massive windows that let in a view of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood full of people who are either just like you or who absolutely fucking despise you. You look out at them, and they look in at you. In fact, they can see everything you do, at all hours of the day, because you don't have any way of covering those windows. This is because it makes no sense to purchase the enormous custom window treatments your giant, awkward-sized windows would require -- those, it turns out, would cost tens of thousands of dollars -- and this is a rental where you're probably going to live for a year or two, max.
Why aren't you going to live here longer? It seems so great! There's a dishwasher and a washer/dryer, there are even two bathrooms, there's central heat and air -- this could be your forever home! Except, whoops. Whoever slapped this thing up in under 6 months didn't get some permits or something. They've overlooked a detail or two. Like, the windows leak whenever it rains, and they aren't soundproof, and when the sun is out you feel like an ant under a magnifying glass. You've started wearing SPF 50 just to sit at your desk, which is located at the kitchen island. That's also where you eat meals, because there really isn't a space that makes sense to put a table. You're willing to overlook those problems, but then you notice a rank smell that comes in through the bathroom vent at irregular intervals. What's going on with the ventilation in this place? Are you being slowly poisoned? It doesn't matter anyway, because your landlord just sent an email that because of rising cost of everything, they're raising the rent $1500.
Oh phew. Oh thank fucking god. It's a normal apartment that's always been an apartment, owned by humans in a condo building. While it's new construction, it doesn't have big stupid pointless windows or other dumb design flourishes. It even has some kind of indefinable charm, though it doesn't get much light. It has two normal-sized bedrooms and two bathrooms. The other people who live in the building seem sane and nice, and because the whole thing is made of concrete, you never hear them (hopefully they also never hear you.) The kitchen/living/dining space is all one room, ok, but there's a kind of little nook for a table to go in, and someday you might even buy a table that's the perfect size for it. And best of all -- yes! A place to wash clothes, in your very own apartment! Oh my god, how has this dream finally come to pass?? Is this the place you and your family will spend the rest of your lives, or at least the next few years while your kids go to their beloved school a couple of blocks away?
Lolololol oh my god, you MORON, you IMBECILE, you LUNATIC, of COURSE it is not! Your landlords are selling it, and you have two months to decide which of the above options you want to try again.