One early place was a duplex with around 875 square feet in a 10-year-old boutique condominium building in Gowanus. The rent was $3,000, and the online listing looked too good to be true. The sunny space included more extras than usual: central air-conditioning, a combination washer-dryer, a balcony, a roof deck, a stall shower and a separate whirlpool tub.
“It was the kind of apartment that is beautiful before you do any decorating,” Ms. Sikora said.
But there was a catch: It was actually a one-bedroom duplex with a large loft space rather than a second bedroom. The loft had a sloping ceiling and no door, just a staircase.
A two-bedroom above a bike shop in Park Slope was bigger, with around 900 square feet, but again, the layout wasn’t ideal.
“The bedrooms were way too unequal,” Ms. Hale said. The living area was disproportionately large and the second bedroom so tiny it was “better suited to an office or nursery.” And, at $3,495, the rent was above their budget.
A two-bedroom in Fort Greene, also with around 900 square feet, was more affordable at $2,850. But the location made it impractical. The closest subway, which wasn’t especially close, was the G train, which doesn’t go to Manhattan. And the friends were leery of relying on a single line.
The lofty Gowanus place was by far the best option. But because Ms. Retzloff had visited so few places, Ms. Hale took the pair to see one more place, for the sake of comparison. This one, on a ground floor in Park Slope, had a back garden. But there was less sun and space, and the bathroom was drab. And again, the second bedroom was tiny. It was $3,000.
So in the early fall, the two signed on for the Gowanus apartment, with Ms. Retzloff taking the lofted room. They paid a broker’s fee of one month’s rent, or $3,000.