Unless you have a massive salary, trust fund, or inheritance (and there are plenty of people in this city that do), New York makes it nearly impossible to have a comfortable living situation. If you want space, a little privacy, and affordable, you’re forced to live in a relatively unsafe neighborhood or far from basic life supports like the train, restaurants, bodegas, etc. If you want location, be prepared to pay and to learn how to maximize every square inch of space (lofts are not only for dorm rooms, people).
Let us not forget about roommates. New York is one of the few places where it is socially acceptable to have roommates over the age of 30. In fact, since the single life is so encouraged at least until your 30s, roommates are likewise encouraged. How else will you be able to afford the tiny futon that barely fits into your “living room”?
My first room in New York was a sublet in an adorable, historic brownstone on a fairly quiet, tree-lined street. Although the room was not exactly my favorite color scheme (Victoria Secret pink stripes), it had two good-sized closets. I’m going to guess that it was roughly 10’ x 6’. My bed was a queen-size mattress on the floor. When I convinced myself to change the sheets, I had to wrestle the mattress out from the wall, pull the fitted sheet over, then literally stand on the edges and hop up and down to wedge the mattress ends back against the wall. When I had two visitors one week, we slept on the mattress sideways, our three pairs of legs comically hanging off the end.
The main reasons I moved into that apartment were A) it was somewhat affordable, B) the tenant agreed to let me move in after only a Skype conversation from Mississippi and my friend’s stopping by to vouch for my character, and C) it was only a 3-month sublease, which gave me time to get to New York, find a job, and figure out what I needed to do to live. Thus, the roommate, whom we have (un)affectionately dubbed “KSwiss,” was kind and trusting enough to let me move in, and it wasn’t an awful situation.
But it could have been better. After four months of passive aggressive notes and texts from inside the apartment, hypocritically leaving a sink-full of dirty dishes every morning under the “Kitchen Rules” chart that listed “wash dishes after use” as #1, screaming matches with her (basically) live-in boyfriend (often in the presence of his 4-year-old daughter), and a general feeling of being uncomfortable in my “home,” I was somewhat glad when a series of quick events led me to move out and relocate two blocks away. (On a side note, after multiple texts, a surprise stop-by, and being stood up at a scheduled meeting time, KSwiss has yet to fully return my deposit and some highly prized kitchenware that I forgot – the finger-loop vegetable peeler? Come on. Necessary.)
I’m in a worse location now, unfortunately. I’m on a busy, ugly street that has forced me to wear earplugs to bed for the first time in my life. Along with the street sweepers, the sirens, and the horns, there is an astonishing amount of shouting, angry people on the street in the wee hours of the morning, when the streetlights make my room perpetually light. I also now live directly above a 24-hour halal buffet, which means that my room periodically smells like garlic, onion, and unidentifiable spice. BUT the trade-off is that for only a few bucks more than what I was paying, I get the biggest room I’ve EVER had – in New York or elsewhere, accompanied by an EXTRA room that is pretty darn close to the bedroom I was living in at KSwiss’s place.
For a few weeks, I was granted the privilege of living with fantastic furniture from the girl from whom I’m subletting; girl’s got taste. Originally, I was to use the furniture through May. Then May 15. Then May 12 at 11am. Then May 12 at 10am. Then the movers showed up at 9:30am. Sigh. Now the space in the room seems superfluous and indulgent. However, after a trip to IKEA (I know, I know, but I’m on a serious budget, people) and a little time, I will have it decorated. As a nester, I’m immensely excited about this possibility, about making it home.
(Oh, and so far the roommates – two of them – are so much more chill and comfortable. YAY.)
|View into side room|
|Yes, that's Barbra. Don't judge.|
|The sad AFTER|