Moving to a brand new city is all kinds of thrilling. But as exciting as the transition is, it can also be totally terrifying. Everybody knows that one person who moved somewhere new only to find themselves locked into a year-long lease at a sad apartment in the worst neighborhood, all because they were in a rush to find somewhere to live. Alistair Cooke and Elaine Kuok did not want to be those people.
In a recent story for the New York Times, Cooke explains that after he and his wife decided to make the move NYC, they also opted not to look for a permanent place immediately but instead test out a bunch of neighborhoods by staying in a different Airbnb every month for a year. He writes, “I wondered if Airbnb could fundamentally alter the way we live, not just the way we travel.” They stored their belongings at Cooke’s parents house in Alabama and lived out of what could fit in the back of a cab.
The married couple based their monthly Airbnb budget on the median rent in New York (roughly $100 a night or $3,000 a month). Cooke and Kuok were NYC newbies, so they initially decided to try some of the city’s most famous neighborhoods like Chelsea, West Village and SoHo. However, they also ventured across the bridge to a couple different spots in Brooklyn, like Williamsburg and Fort Greene.
While they ran into a couple of misfortunes like a mysterious gas smell that resulted in an appearance by the fire department, they also found a some real gems. But with those up and downs came some serious Airbnb booking expertise. He says to be weary of hosts with multiple listings, as they tend to be impersonal and hard to get ahold of. He also writes, “If you can’t tell from the reviews or the photos, don’t book until the host tells you what floor the apartment is on. Drawn curtains and limited photos suggest spaces that might have something to hide.”
After accidentally booking a couple of dives, Cooke and Kuok ended up cranking up their budget by almost 300%. Obviously, that amendment isn’t exactly realistic for many of the folks who are just barely getting by in the Big Apple. There could still be a way to replicate their experiment in a more budget-friendly way; your timeline might just have to be a little bit quicker.
If you’re able to narrow your options down to three or four neighborhoods you’re interested in and willing to accept that your accommodation might not be the most stunning apartment you’ve ever seen, this could definitely be a smart way to really get a feel for a new neighborhood. Additionally, Cooke and Kuok were primarily renting out one-bedroom apartments, so if you’re single and willing to rent a room or a studio, that could also do wonders for your wallet.
If we’re being real, yes, it’s probably going to end up costing you a little more than if you had signed a lease ASAP, but then again, wouldn’t you pay a little extra to make sure you and your city start your relationship off on the right foot?
Did you recently move to a new city? How did you decide which neighborhood to move to? Share your story with us on Twitter @britandco.
(h/t The New York Times)