Do I really need a toilet?

It was the height of the pandemic and I was looking for an apartment for the first time in 17 years. Some things never change: Finding a place in Lower Manhattan is hard if you’re not amazingly rich.

I just saw a 150 square foot studio on West Four Street for $2,000 a month, and was told I could save space by hanging my winter coat on the stairs of the building. “It will probably be safe there,” the agent assured me.

He then took me to a “detached apartment” near the corner, a ground-floor cell with a menacingly steep spiral staircase leading into a windowless basement. “$2,300,” he told me. “Better snap it up. Won’t last long. ”

I love my sunny Greenwich Village apartment, but Covid has gotten in the way: My theater and teaching jobs have dried up, my lease is about to expire, and the landlord is increasing my rent while Prices plummeted across the city. The thought of traveling during a pandemic is daunting, and the chances of my potentially infectious friends helping me move my belongings down four flights of stairs are slim. On the other hand, for the first time since the Clinton administration, I was able to purchase a decent apartment without leaving the comforts of Lower Manhattan.

At the end of 2020, I saw a wonderful apartment on Carmine Street. Of course, Amazing is a relative term. This apartment is raw, the designer loves the grout and hardwood floors painted in Brutalist grey. But it’s huge: a genuine two-bedroom apartment, with soaring ceilings, massive lighting, and unobstructed views of Greenwich Village, all for just $1,995 a month. Now that I work from home, the extra space seems luxurious. I am ready to make an offer.

The agent, who described every wardrobe as if he had seen the Grand Canyon for the first time, pulled me aside at the end of the tour. “Did you notice anything about the bathroom?”

I was intrigued by his sense of mystery. Is there a bidet I missed? A Jacuzzi tub?

“There are no toilets.”

Before telling me this, he held my gaze for a few seconds, as if to say, “A less careful agent wouldn’t reveal this, but I’m balancing you for that kind of thing. my agent.” He is proud of himself.

I did actually peek into the bathroom and noticed the spacious tub and sink. However, I overlooked the obvious lack, since people often don’t notice the shortage of things until one needs them. (See: lifeboat / Titanic.)

“No, um, the toilet?” is all I can manage. If I wasn’t wearing a mask, this would be the right time to spit.

“A lot of people really like it this way,” he assures me. “It’s cleaner.”

I find it hard to believe that there are people who like Not to have a toilet in their apartment. According to the record, this is the only bathroom in the apartment. And the toilet is not broken. It is simply not there. It has never been. The listing, which mentions that the apartment is near Equinox and Starbucks, omits to mention this.

“So what happens when, um, a person needs to use the bathroom?” I ask.

He led me to a single restroom in the hallway and told me it was shared by upstairs apartments. There is no sink, only one toilet.

This is an old building, and a shared bath was common at the time it was built, over a century ago. I like old stuff, and appreciate seeing this living history; at the same time, I’m not sure I want to be intimately involved with history.

This is, of course, a deal breaker. Or is it? Huge arched window. The Heart of Greenwich Village. Under $2,000. Don’t store my clothes in the hallway.

When I got home, I called my friends to ask for advice.

My civic-minded friend supports it: “Americans are too isolated in their little bubbles. I support the community’s efforts. Besides, most people share a bathroom with family or roommates. You just want to share the bathroom. “

Another friend wondered how a romantic might react when she asked where the bathroom was and was told to line up in the hallway and wait her turn. My friend in the process of potty training for her children gave an extra plastic toilet that they keep in the bathroom.

Another friend voted against it, saying seriously, “You don’t want to be called the guy who doesn’t have a toilet in your apartment.”

And there are questions: Who cleans the bathroom? How many people live on the floor? Are you sharing it with another person or 11 people? If the bathroom is occupied, can you use the bathroom of another floor? Why is this building doing a bathroom conversion in an apartment, which every other building in New York does, roughly the FDR administration?

I consulted Google on how to install my own toilet and learned that this wasn’t a simple fix: I didn’t just need to connect the pipe to the main sewer line – which required floors and walls must be demolished – but also on every floor, according to New York City building codes.

There were a few unorthodox options – there was something called a macerating toilet that apparently could be hooked up to a regular line – but I decided I didn’t want to take an illegal toilet out of my apartment. me.

Anyway, I want to rent the apartment. The shared pool in my childhood neighborhood in Texas made friends of all the neighbors – could this have the same effect? Indoor plumbing wasn’t perfect enough for everyone on Earth until about 100 years ago – I can certainly get through it. I’m an ancient history expert – this will connect me to the past. I’m an artist – this keeps me humble.

Plus it’s no small thing, the apartment is twice as large as anything I’ve seen in my price range, and it’s bright and airy, a canvas so I can make a great home. .

In the end, I decided against it. Two weeks on, I see 10 more drab apartments, all smaller, with lower ceilings, with fewer windows. I check online. Carmine Apartments are now down to $1,850 a month. I think about it. I think about it some more. I checked back two days later, and it’s in the contract. Too late.

I’m starting to realize that most places in Lower Manhattan in my price range have a hole. They will be marked as “unusual”, if such a thing exists for apartments.

While a non-traditional space appeals to me – an old barn or converted church sounds lovely – the quirks are more mundane: Fascinating Apartment on East 12th Street there is a private bathroom in the living room, which promises to make parent visits awkward; The penthouse at West 21 is lit primarily by skylights, with narrow bunker-style windows at eye level, perfect for survivalists or bats alike. I started to despair.

But the large two-bedroom apartment on B Avenue was perfect. A corner apartment, flooded with sunlight, it comes with a home office, for a more than reasonable $1,895 a month.

I couldn’t find any bugs, so I assumed it must be haunted. At this point in my search, I’m fine with that. Street noise may sound like Rio de Janeiro at Carnival, and I fully expect rents to skyrocket when the lease expires post-pandemic, but I signed on to the dotted line.

However, not before checking the bathroom again.

Stephen Ruddy, a New York-based writer, can often be found at The Moth and McSweeney’s, and is the creator of the upcoming scripted podcast, “The Rubber Room.”

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, Register here. Follow them on Twitter: @nytrealestate. Do I really need a toilet?

Fry Electronics Team

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