Finding My First Solo Apartment

This post is sponsored by Zumper. Opinions are my own.

You’ve heard the apartment hunting stories - or, nightmares rather - and I’m telling you there’s lots of truth to them. I recently decided to take the challenge of moving into a solo apartment meaning I had to do all the searching, vetting and signing on my own (*cue music*).

Living downtown had been such a highlight, but the trouble is the spaces are rather small for the buck. So, I decided to keep the location more open to see where that would take me. While that is a bonus, it also made the search a little more difficult because it felt like the options were endless!

To alleviate the burden of the search, technology was my best friend. I’ve mentioned a few apps and resources in the past and decided to give something new a try: Zumper.

Born out of frustration by the old way of renting, Zumper creates a smooth, efficient and transparent renting process for both tenants and landlords. You can search for specific amenities, create alerts to notify you of similar listings, and find specific neighborhood information such as rent prices and demographics. Ok, ok I had to give it a try.

If you’re relocating to NYC or just moving nearby in the city, Zumper Select, available in New York and Chicago, takes the hassle out of apartment hunting. Tell them your move-in date and budget, and from there the experts will help you find options that fit your needs.

Zumper Rental App

So: where did all that take me?

After sorting through apartments that would fulfill my wishlist, I found myself looking mostly in the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, or Midtown area. I gave myself 6 weeks to search, with alerts on, and used my weekends for viewings. Things to keep in mind:

  • 3-4 weeks out is the sweet spot. In NYC, so many apartments come and go, and landlords are looking for ASAP move in.

  • If you’re using the weekend for tours, do first thing in the morning on Saturday. Many people are doing the same thing, so you want to be among the first to check out a place.

  • Try to stick with the same 1-2 areas for your appointments, it will save you time! Busy bee like me? If you don’t have the time to schedule 100 tours, Zumper will schedule them for you and can even join you if you’d like.

  • Have ready the things you’ll need to apply if you see something you like while on the tours. Think: your last two paystubs, most recent tax return, employer’s salary letter, ID, and checkbook.

  • If you LOVE something, take it right there. Chances are, if it’s your dream apartment it’s also someone else’s, so apply then and there if you don’t want to miss out. This happened to one apartment early in my search.

At about 3 weeks out, I found it!

The dream space in a new neighborhood between Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District. I went for it because of space and price, neighborhood initially coming in as my lowest priority and then becoming one of my favorite elements. Truly the dream.

Once you find a dream place, Zumper’s local rental experts are standing by to provide advice on the neighborhood, and help sign and move you into your new space. Seriously, it couldn’t get easier!

It’s still a work in progress, but here’s a first look at how it’s coming together. Here are my three favorite spots in my new place (left to right):

  • The couch space: WOW do I love my couch. It’s so cozy and turns into a full-size bed for guests. There’s also secret storage and all the pillows I need.

  • The bathroom: I feel like I never had enough space to lay out my skin and beauty things comfortably. I have a ton of bathroom space now and am at peace in this space.

  • The reading nook: I love my bookshelf came out, and I treat this space as a little reading nook thanks to the cozy ottoman.

Do you have any tips on moving into an apartment in the city? I’d love to hear them! #MakeYourMove




#SelfCareSunday: Winter-proofing your home

This blog post was sponsored by Scotties, but all opinions and words are my own.

Winter is not coming, winter is here. Being from a year-round warm weather city means preparing to survive winter that much more complicated. From drier skin to frequent sniffles, it’s something I’m challenged with every year.

But this year is my third winter in NYC and I feel more prepared than ever. One thing I’m really proud of is how I’m setting up my home to be self-care friendly in spite of freezing temperatures.

For starters, I got a hold on temperature control. Thank the city heavens for properly working heating pipes. However, there were a few window gaps and tinkering to do to make sure all systems were ready by connecting with my building Super. I also realized over the last few weeks that my living room was a little colder than the other rooms, so I purchased a small and affordable space heater. Bonus: blankets all around for those who are extra cold!

Next, I added touches of comfort throughout my space with Scotties’ new tissue boxes! They add a comforting touch of style when all the holiday decorations come down and blend seamlessly into my apartment’s aesthetic. You barely notice the fact that there are “tissue boxes” all around, and they’re easily accessible to handle any sniffle scenario.

Scotties gives consumers everything they are looking for in a tissue, offering high-quality facial tissues at a great value with modern designs to fit in any room of your home. I added Scotties to my living room bookshelf, golden cart, bathroom and bedside in my bedroom. Fun fact: I’ve actually slept with tissues next to my bed for as long as I could remember. Waking up with allergies was no fun, but a comforting tissue always made me feel ready and relaxed!

Finally, I’m harnessing the power of crystals for the second year in a row. “What do crystals have to do with winter?!” The anxiety and gloom of dark and cold winter months can easily get to you, but I find that working with crystals to give you balanced energy is a great compromise. There’s a lot to it, and I feel to beginner to be the one to give this a well-deserved explanation, but exploring this space has helped keep my spirits at their high during this crazy season.

What are some things you’re doing to help keep you happy and healthy during the dreary winter months? Happy #selfcaresunday!

Making My Way Below 14th Street

One of the greatest cities in the world (don't @ me) is also one of the hardest to navigate when it comes to finding housing. A few months ago, I shared a quick guide to "moving to NYC" and now's the time I had to follow my own advice.

If you know my NYC journey, you know I've kept it uptown since I first moved here. From Inwood to the same Upper West Side zip code I had when I first moved here years ago, I found comfort in being "away" from the hustle and bustle. The problem is, I was hustling and bustling every time I was getting out of the apartment because I was always working against a minimum 20-minute delay.

Getting to work when the subway works: 25 minutes

Getting to work when the subway doesn't work, which is usually always because #MTA: 45-70 minutes

I began to hate that I had little control on being late. If I left early to make up for potential mishaps, I found myself "too early" 9/10 times. My next goal: move walking distance to work. 

Well, easier said than done when you work in Tribeca -- one of the more expensive parts of Manhattan. I spent a few weeks on the apartment search finding things within or only slightly above my budget, but knowing that this time I would be sacrificing greatly on space (remember: price, size, location). This grueling process really helped me get down to thinking about what exactly I couldn't sacrifice: separate kitchen from living room, windows (can't believe I have to ask for this), and my own closet.

The apartment search finally came to a happy close when I matched with someone via Gypsy Housing on a dream SoHo apartment. If you know me offline, this has always been my favorite downtown neighborhood and I'm often pinching myself to remind myself that I get to live here while staying within a millennial-friendly budget.

I got the apartment, I signed the dotted line, but now my third time moving in the city meant I was going to have much more to lug around when moving day came. This was my biggest stressor. From Miami to NYC I boxed up and UPS-mailed all my things, and from Inwood to Upper West Side I used a "man with a van" (IRL name: Jerry). The difference this time, however, was the fact that I wasn't just a "scrappy Millennial" moving to a new pad. I made small upgrades in my life as I grew into the city and my career and I truly valued the things I had earned and placed in my apartment. I needed to give myself this necessary upgrade and do things the safe, reliable and correct way.

I connected with Roadway Moving after doing some research across review websites and other credible platforms, given that they had some of the highest reviews. What's the hype all about? I mean, it's a moving company, aren't we supposed to dislike them as much as we dislike moving? Well, the difference is this company is putting happiness first to not only make a move as seamless as possible, but as pleasant as possible.

Upfront, I was really excited to be working with a company that provided insurances I'd heard about during this process. If someone is going to be handling your hard earned valuables, you need them to protect them and have a backup plan if they ding something. Roadway not only has the paperwork to cover an accident, but they carefully wrapped (not deconstructed) all my furniture with safety blankets so that nothing returned damaged. 

I was able to chat with their CEO, Ross Sapir, where we talked about the importance of this layer of protection. "Millennials are now making more money, have more things, and 'going the DIY or cheap' way isn't always the smartest route," he said. "You need to find services that are going to protect the things you worked hard to earn."

When it came to thinking about physically moving things around, my "PTSD" of having to help "the man with a van" down my 5th floor walk up kicked in. I kid you not when I say I almost teared up seeing how quickly they grabbed everything, took it down safely, and brought it right back up to my new apartment in the blink of an eye. I also had a few miscellaneous items that didn't fit in boxes, which they had supplies for that I could use on moving day. 

Past the nitty gritty of the moving process, the most important thing is that working with Roadway made my move such a pleasant experience. It didn't feel like you were burdening a friend, or someone that hates their job, with your burden of having to move. I had to remind myself that I didn't know these people, because I swear we could've been neighbors in a past life. They were cheerful, polite, kind, and were excited to talk about things like Spanish soccer.

When all was said and done, I sighed a breath of fresh air. I unpacked my goods, ordered a few missing pieces to the apartment, and got to making this new place feel like home. Moving isn't only stressful because of the logistics of getting your stuff moved halfway across the city, it takes a toll on you mentally as you prepare to start a new chapter of your life in a new neighborhood. New coffee shop, new groceries, new parks, new mindset. Start yours off positive!

Scroll down for a few of my favorite spaces in the apartment:

Moving yourself? Visit Roadway Moving online for a quote, and mention "LISSETTE" for 10% your entire move.

I Hope You Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder

Often times we become easily complacent, or almost bored, with our current situation and lifestyle. I know what you’re thinking: You live in New York City and have a fabulous life as a PR superstar, shut up. And I’m here to tell you that after seven weeks in the city, New York started to lose its sparkle.

Alright, that’s an exaggeration. Simply, I’ve become immune to the Times Square glisten and breathtaking skyline portrait of the city because it became a part of my daily routine.

Wake up in the Lower East Side, walk through Times Square to the office, eat lunch by the window with a view, watch the sunset as it sets during my Central Park run, catch a celebrity at the same venue I’m in, wake up and do it again. 

This seemingly black and white lifestyle affected the way I worked because I became less motivated to be that “incredible version of myself.” So, I began to reflect. What if, the glamour of this city is all in our perception of it? What if, this career magic I kept experiencing was all streaming from my actions to move forward? Why am I blaming the city for losing its sparkle when, in reality, I’ve lost my sparkle? I realized that I dug myself into a little nook within my mind and caused myself to slow down the progress I was steadily making. My next move: reignite the flame between myself, New York City and the public relations world.

Central Park Flowers.jpg

Step One: Myself

Remember the saying: “You have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else.” It’s important to disconnect for a bit and venture out to a place that allows for self reflection. I started by running the usual Central Park Reservoir and decided to venture off into the greens of Central Park to find quiet thinking spots. Among my favorite, I really enjoyed stumbling on Turtle Pond. It’s a man-made body of water known for its high volume of turtles and other small wildlife. The great thing about this is that, aside from being beautiful, it is a “quiet zone.” This allows for the perfect scenario for self-reflection. I realigned myself with my career goals, personal goals and brainstormed on ways to grow.  An occasional breath of fresh air, and fresh perspective, are essential.

Step Two: New York City

Well, since I’ve decided that I will spend at least the next decade of my life in this city, I decided to reconnect with it. As you might’ve thought, this wasn’t too hard. New York City is filled with thousands, maybe millions, of things to do, places to go, plates to eat and people to meet. After dubbing myself a “rookie New Yorker,” I’ve gotten pretty fantastic at giving friends recommended things to add on their itinerary. So, I decided I could reconnect by visiting some of these places myself. Even better, I’ve scheduled to visit far parts of other boroughs and attend events (stoked for Cony Island’s Mermaid Parade) that ignite my passion for discovery and learning. 

Step Three: Public Relations World

When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to become an astronaut. Now that I’m an adult, I know I want to become someone’s publicist. Hundreds of press releases, social media accounts and media events later, everything started to blend in the same sphere. Luckily, The Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, Fla., the place I sadly put on hold as I’m in New York City, asked me to do an interesting project for them. They asked me to execute a morning segment on FOX & Friends for the Aruba account. WOW! seems to be everyone, including myself’s, reaction. As Z’s president, Carrie Zimmerman, mentioned, this was my first national morning show segment and I couldn’t have been prouder of the work I accomplished. This definitely reignited my need to become a key player in this field. 

Now, I wake up in the morning smiling like the first time I landed in the city. I know my potential, I seek out opportunities for growth, I let my sense of curiosity and wonder take me to new places and New York City glistens again.

It doesn’t matter what state you’re in, what matters is your state of mind. Everyone needs a little sparkle, don’t let yourself lose yours. 

Flying High, Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me, something is not the same.
Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep.
It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.
It’s time to try defying gravity.
I think I’ll try defying gravity, and you can’t pull me down.

Truthfully, I wanted to save this topic for later. But, after watching Lindsay Mendez perform and completely impress the audience with her rendition of Defying Gravity, I needed to express my upmost happiness for the direction I’ve decided to take in my life.

REALLY, HAS ANYONE SEEN ME HAPPIER?

New York City - Defying Gravity.jpg

As you all know by now, I’ve decided to try and defy gravity by taking my public relations toolbox to New York City. Here, I’ve discovered an incredible amount about myself, the future I desire and the world around me. I keep repeating, however, that there’s some sort of magic that surrounds my trip. The question is:

Is there magic surrounding positive risk taking?

Risk-takers make a small percentage of our population. This is because when we think of risk-takers we think about cliff jumpers and gamblers. When we think of risks we think of the negative consequences what could come out of them. But I’m an advocate for positive risk taking. What I mean is, taking a step forward without clear direction but knowing there’s only room for nothing but growth. 

Think about it. Had I come to New York empty-handed, no internship, no plan, I could still say I came to New York with my own resources, discovered new people and places and had a blast for the time being. I could’ve taken the time to learn more about the industry and what it would take for me to come back and kick PR butt. I would’ve felt just as happy because I took a “leap” of faith with myself and made a positive decision.

Now, I’m not telling you to book a trip to Europe in search of what you should major in college. What I want, is to inspire people to defy gravity. I want people to learn that by planning ahead and taking positive risks, there’s no such thing as a “fall.” Gravity pulls you down, but a solid vision for what you want and need in life will lift you up. And as all this is happening, life rewards us by adding a little magic in our endeavors — if we keep a positive attitude, too, of course.

Now, when people ask me why I’ve gotten “so lucky,” understand that there is no luck involved in my recent good fortune. It took a leap of faith in myself, determination and a positive outlook in everything that gets tossed my way. Book that flight, put some gas in your car or put on the thinking cap… it’s time to take a positive risk and defy gravity.

Everyone deserves a chance to fly.
And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free.
To those who ground me, take a message back from me:

I’m flying high defying gravity. And nobody in all of “Oz,” no wizard that there is or was, is ever going to bring me down.