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Become Your Own Super


Illustration by Seymour Chase  

Five years ago, I rented an apartment in a four-unit building in Carroll Gardens that had everything my girlfriend and I wanted—good location, an extra bedroom, lots of natural light. Only one thing was missing: a super. Someone to drag the garbage to the curb, flip the boiler switch in the basement now and then, show available apartments, change lightbulbs in the hallways—all simple, yet necessary, building tasks. The previous super had taken off before the landlord could hire a replacement, and so I made him an offer: “I’ll take care of the trash, the boiler, the keys, and the lightbulbs, if you knock $100 a month off the rent.” I’d get a discount apartment, he’d get a discount super. He happily accepted. I may grumble now and then, but the job’s generally been worth the money I save. I’m no ace with a hammer or wire-strippers, but I can definitely handle the trash. And if there is ever a bigger problem—a gushing toilet, a broken lock—I keep the numbers for a good plumber and locksmith in my wallet.

Annual Savings: $1,200


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