The Hunt

Seeking a West Village Rental for Less Than $3,000. Which Option Did She Choose?

When a pandemic price hike forced her out of her one-bedroom apartment, a downtown renter searched for something comparable that she could afford. Here’s what she found.

Katherine Marks for The New York Times

Amanda Dauber headed to New York straight from college.

“New York is the only city where I could see myself,” said Ms. Dauber, 27, who grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. “Most of my college friends were planning to move to New York, and it was close enough to home.”

She roomed with two friends on the Lower East Side, in a three-bedroom condo unit that had belonged to her late grandfather and now belongs to her aunt. After three years, when Covid altered the city, all three roommates returned to their parents’ homes.

Ms. Dauber, who works in human resources, hoped to find a pandemic deal on a new rental. “I would be living alone for the first time,” she said, “so I was nervous about that.”

But listings were abundant and relatively cheap. “The world was my oyster, and it was a renter’s market, a million percent.”

She landed a charming one-bedroom with a home office and an eat-in kitchen on a tree-lined West Village street, paying $2,500 a month. And she planned to stay there, until she learned that her rent was about to jump to $4,200, and her landlord wouldn’t negotiate. So in the spring, she went on the hunt for a place she could afford — up to $3,000 a month.

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“I am a pretty Type A person,” Ms. Dauber said. “I like to plan ahead and picture what the next few months of my life will look like, and you can’t do that until you know where your home base will be.”

She wanted a charming studio or one-bedroom in the West Village, with enough space for a computer monitor and a laptop.

The last time around, there had been plenty of places to see, with offers of several months free and no broker fees. This time, there was little inventory, and the apartments that were available didn’t come with any discounts — in fact, there were hefty fees attached. New listings would be rented inside of a day. So she had little time to make a decision.

Among her options:

No. 1

Co-op Studio With Big Kitchen

Katherine Marks for The New York Times

This studio was in a six-story elevator co-op building with a common garden, laundry room and live-in super. The kitchen was particularly large. But an “internal application” had already been received, and the apartment was being shown only for backup. The rent was $2,600 a month.

No. 2

Studio in Elevator Building

Katherine Marks for The New York Times

This studio was in a six-story elevator building, on a high floor, facing the back. The sunny living area was 191 square feet, and there was good closet space, but little counter space in the kitchen. The listing was unclear about the rent — it was either $3,200, $3,000 or something below $3,000.

Courtesy of Ekaterina Vorobeva, Bond New York

No. 3

Fifth-Floor One-Bedroom

Katherine Marks for The New York Times

This one-bedroom was on the top floor of a five-story walk-up building, facing the back. It had a big closet and a half-size renovated kitchen, with a two-burner stove, a speed oven and a tiny sink. The rent was $3,000.

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

Which Would You Choose?

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Co-op Studio With Big Kitchen

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Studio in Elevator Building

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Fifth-Floor One-Bedroom

Which Did She Choose?

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Co-op Studio With Big Kitchen

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Studio in Elevator Building

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Fifth-Floor One-Bedroom