Finding an apartment in New York City – specifically one with Verizon FIOS

Recently, and by recently I mean all of the last six months, I’ve been looking for an apartment in New York City. But not just any affordable apartment in New York City would do, no, I had developed a list of demands. Good neighborhood, preferably in Chelsea or close to Chelsea Piers (to where I lug a rather heavy hockey bag at least once a week). Laundry, at least in the building. Dishwasher would be nice. Space, well, enough space to put stuff without tripping over it. I don’t need a lot of space. But I wanted to live on my own, again. Too old for anything else, execpt I suppose… you know, family. All of these, however, were more like requests. Wants. Likes. But I did have one dealbreaker: Verizon FIOS.

I’ve lived under the wrath of Time Warner Cable since moving here in November. To keep the complaining short, their up/down times in my current building were usually around .7Mbps/.4Mbps and there was so much packet collision and buffer bloat at the router level that it was not unusual for me to have to power cycle the crappy little DLink three or four times a day. Sometimes three or times within an hour. That’s what happens when you’re browsing online from a laptop while streaming SlingBox video on one Mac Mini and more video with the NHL Gamecenter app on an iPad. Oh, and all of that was done over wireless – which did not help things. Also, in regards to TWC before we cancelled the cable service: their HD channels are delivered with way too much compression that it should be illegal to call the service “HD.” And half of the HD channels we were supposed to receive came in black. That’s the thing with HD through coax – either you get the channel or you don’t.

Searching for FIOS

So anyhow, finding Verizon FIOS in New York City was not an easy task. I would stalk FIOS trucks in my neighborhood to see where they were working. I had emailed their customer support to see if they could at least guide me in a direction (ie, don’t bother looking in the East or West Village…). Here’s what Verizon wrote back:

At this time, we are only able to search by full address for service availability. You may wish to call the local office at (800) 837-4966 and a representative in the NY area may have more information as to Verizon areas.

You may check an address 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on our web site:

Just click on Check Availability to enter an address for services available from Verizon at the location.

Nothing I didn’t already know. So for six months, I’ve been cross referencing apartment listings with the Verizon FIOS availability tool. It’s not fun. Entering each address is usually a 5 or 6 click process that involves a lot of javascript and a lot of wait time while the address search(es) is going on in the background.

In the end, I finally found a place to live. And along the way, I still never figured out the madness to Verizon’s method in getting FIOS in to New York City. Most of the apartments that offered it were new construction/rennovation buildings, which is hard to get in to if you’re budget is… well, normal.

Pretty much anything in between 14th street and Houston was out. I don’t remember ever seeing a listing in that area that offered FIOS. Chelsea was spotty at best. There was one newer building on 19th street that offered it, but buildings around it did not. Plus, it’s not so easy to pick an apartment by knowing the exact address you wish to live in. It sort of works the other way. Flatiron and Grammercy were also mostly empty. Murray Hill had a few spots but nothing I could count on. The only place in downtown Manhattan that was reliably wired with FIOS was the Downtown / WTC / Battery Park City area. Lots of new construction down there.

Tips for finding a NYC apartment

Along the way, I gathered a decent list of property management and real estate websites that offered up-to-date listings on apartments.

I also learned that websites such as urbansherpa and streeteasy were great discovery tools for who had rental listings, but the actual listings were “notorisouly stale”, as one property management office told me.

The best thing to do was to research these third party sites for who had listings and then go straight to those people for the actual, up to date listings.

One of the great tips in NY apartment searching right now is to focus on the property management companies. They usually charge no fee for renters – especially since they quite often own the buildings. Condo management will usually charge the condo owners and not the renters, at least that’s how it is right now.

Here are the lists I worked from:

Property Management