How To Find An Apartment in NYC

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Seen far too often and far too quickly during the NYC apartment hunt– RENTED.



The trick is… to let the new apartments come to you.

When I decided to look for a new apartment, I would often get distracted searching streeteasy.com, craigslist.org, nakedapartments.com, nybits.com, renthop.com, and trulia.com. That’s when I figured out the best life hack to the NYC Apartment scene. I decided I would write a feed that IFTTT could ping every 15 minutes, and have a notification sent to my phone every time an apartment came on the market.

It worked brilliantly. I knew within 15 minutes each time a place was posted. Not only did I know first, but after a while of getting these notifications, I knew exactly what proper value was on the market. I got my awesome new apartment because I was first.

One day I decided to check if any of these sites had an API, and the only one that offered one was streeteasy. This worked out because I was finding most of their listings to actually be legit. It took me less than 50 lines of code to grab the data I needed to build a simple RSS feed for IFTTT. I was able to search the neighborhoods I like, price ranges I could handle, and number of bedrooms. Now I set it up so you can do this too in just 6 easy steps;

1. Create a Streeteasy Account.

Go to streeteasy.com, and in the top right click Register.

2. Grab an API key.

Scroll to the bottom of streeteasy.com when you’re logged in, and click API in the bottom right. There you can go through the process of creating an API key. Copy the API key and keep it handy…

3. Search for your Apartment

This basically means click advanced search and set the parameters up so that only places you want to live are being displayed to you in the results.

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4. Extract Parameters

This is where you extract the parameters of your search from the URL bar. We’ll pass these into the RSS feed on my server a little bit later…

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Price: The low and high dollar amount you are willing to pay monthly.
Ex: &price=1000-2000

Areas: A comma separated value list of neighborhoods you want to search.
Ex: &areas=115,158,116,108,162,107,157,306,322,323,305

Beds: A comma separated value list of neighborhoods you want to search.
Ex: &beds=>=2 // 2BR+ 
Ex: &beds=<=1 // Studio or 1BR

Api Key: You must include your Streeteasy API key to make this work.
Ex: &api_key=12345

5. Sign up for IFTTT

It’s easy and it takes a few minutes. Configure your cell phone so you can receive SMS messages via IFTTT.

6. Set up IFTTT

Sign up for SMS messages whenever IFTTT detects changes to the RSS feed. You’ll need to build your URL based on step 4 above;

http://mattrestivo.com/projects/apartments/?price=[YOUR_PRICE]&beds=[BEDROOMS]&areas=[YOUR_AREAS]&api_key=[YOUR_API_KEY]

This is what the configuration looks like in IFTTT;

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7. Great Success!

You should start receiving texts within the first 15 minutes, you may even get the last 20 items instantly, just so you can test it out. You can rename the IFTTT phone number, “Apartment Alert” in your phone book, and click the link to quickly see the streeteasy listing.

Good luck apartment hunting!

Visit: Austin, TX

DSC_8827Franklin BBQ: Standing in line from 10-1130am is well worth it for this wet brisket.

I’ve been to Austin, TX three times– twice for SxSW and once for a bachelor party. I talk to a lot of people about this so I figured it was worth posting. There are a few restaurants that you absolutely must go to you when you visit city;

#1. Franklin BBQ
The hype is legit, I tried Salt Lick, Micklethwait, and Franklin destroys both of them. There’s a reason Obama went there.

#2. Uchi
This dude Tyson Cole has won numerous awards and it is hands down the best Japanese food I’ve ever tasted.

#3. Torchy’s Tacos
Breakfast burritos, Tacos, the queso– everything. Go here at least once every day throughout your trip. It’s hard to put this third, because this is one of the two best Mexican food places I’ve ever been to (the other is in San Diego, CA).

#4. East Side King
Another ballin’ place to get asian fusion food. This place is harder to explain, but trust Paul Qui’s ability here– this place is impressive.

If you’re looking for other things to do besides eat– go for a run along the water, visit UT’s campus, and check out East 6th Street, and the often overlooked West 6th Street.

Thank You For Your Service

Every time I see a soldier dressed in their blues or their camo, I am always sure to thank them for our service to our country. I highly encourage you do the same.

It’s just a few small words– but you can tell they count by their reaction.

Car Accidents

Gideon Lichfield is at it again… another brilliant post to start the weekend.

Whether it was 13, as GM says, or 74, as Reuters asserts, the lives lost in cars fitted with the automaker’s faulty ignition switches are a tragedy. GM this week began its long march to rehabilitation by admitting to a “pattern of incompetence and neglect” that led millions of cars to be fitted with the faulty switches over nearly a decade.

But still, let’s keep some perspective.

From 2003 to 2010, the period in question, 287,586 people died in the US in car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 98 people every single day. In 2010 alone, the agency estimates (pdf), 3,353 lives would have been saved if only everyone riding in a car always wore a seatbelt, and another 708 if every motorcyclist always wore a helmet. That’s 11 lives saved every day. “Distraction-related” accidents, which include texting or phone-calling while driving, killed 3,328 people in 2012 alone; nine lives every day.

And of course, that’s just in the US. Worldwide, around 1.24 million people die in road accidents each year.

Why is there so much scandal around GM’s ignition switches, while the daily scandal of carnage on the roads is, on most days, largely forgotten? GM should certainly fix its culture, which seems to discourage employees from reporting potentially fatal problems. But if just a fraction of the energy spent on chastising GM went into improving daily road safety, it could save a lot more lives. —Gideon Lichfield

Investors and the 1%

I read AVC (Fred Wilson) everyday– he’s perhaps one of the smartest and most looked up to investors in the tech industry. I also read the Crunchbase daily email and am baffled at times by some of the companies that are getting millions in funding.

Investors– why does every investment have to be about maximizing profit? It seems to me that investors would rather invest in a new Babysitting startup– solving something for the 1% than solve something practical and meaningful for people. Even a show like Shark Tank is evidence of this hunger for every dime on a balance sheet.

Hundreds of thousands of people in NYC today use CitiBike daily. At $100 per year, it’s by far the best option for commuting. CitiBike has not yet expanded into poorer neighborhoods, because of funding. It’s a shame because there are plenty of restaurant workers paying $112 A MONTH for a subway pass while earning close to minimum wage. There can clearly be a lot more ridership should they figure out a way to expand. Why can’t an investor step up in the name of an awesome service, as opposed to just looking for the next 1% business?

Fred himself has admitted that he loves CitiBike, perhaps as much as I do. What will happen when investors start investing in medicine startups more regularly– the people trying to solve cancer?

Is it all about which Startup can make an investor the most money? If their father died from colon cancer– do you think they would look to invest in that? By today’s standards, the answer is no.

Does death have to be the line here?

Training for Flywheel

For the last month, I’ve been training to become a Flywheel instructor. My favorite part of the week is stepping up to that instructor bike well prepared and ready to command my friends to an awesome sweat.

Becoming an instructor is more challenging than you might imagine, there is a lot that goes into it. I spend hours curating music and playlists to ensure that people are both entertained and the workout is to the beat.

The people have been great to work with too– they challenge me, correct me, and ultimately make me a better teacher with each session.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, you’ll see me up on the instructor bike, and I hope I have a long tenure at Flywheel.

#nevercoast

Tech Companies

Leo Mirani had a great write up in Quartz’s daily email over the weekend… I figured it was worth sharing.

It doesn’t take a lot for Google to make headlines, but its prototype of the self-driving car, unveiled this week, surely earned them. To some the pod-like vehicle looks more like a koala, but others saw the future of, well, everything: It could replace public transport, enhance privacy, even alter the English language; it will “change the world,” “change everything” and “transform our lives.”

It’s the same story again and again. When Facebook bought Oculus VR, the virtual-reality headset maker, people conjured up visions of immersive social networking, almost like being with your friends in real life. When Amazon suggested that it might one day deliver packages by drone, we swallowed that too.

Yet Google’s self-driving car and Amazon’s drones are not so different from, say, Shell’s work on green energy or GlaxoSmithKline’s research on cancer drugs (since abandoned). Such experimental technologies stir our imaginations. They help companies seem exciting, perhaps even friendly. And yes, they are often wise investments—insurance against the future. But they may remain pie-in-the-sky for years, and they make us forget the mundane and sometimes harmful ways the firms make the bulk of their money. Google is an advertising company that harvests personal data as energetically as Shell drills for oil. So why do its futuristic projects evoke breathless fascination, while Shell’s clean-tech efforts are dismissed as “greenwashing“?

There are some obvious answers to that. The tech companies are newer, so we’ve had less time to become jaded. They have given us some wonderful things—new ways to communicate, to entertain ourselves, to find friends or even love. And we assume that, being younger than oil or pharma firms, they are more nimble and forward-thinking. But at the end of the day, they’re all businesses, which will never jeopardize whatever provides the bulk of their revenue. And just because they promise us a vision of the future doesn’t mean it will become reality.