Housing Update

Well, the apartment in Sunset Park didn’t work out (landlord decided to rent it to somebody else) but it’s looking like I’ll have a place to live next month. No money has changed hands yet and nothing has been signed yet, but I have a verbal agreement with a prospective roommate I met a few days ago in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The neighborhood is pretty shitty, but the apartment is actually one of the nicest I’ve seen in the past couple weeks: A condo-quality loft conversion with two bedrooms and a huge living area with an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline. The apartment is only a block away from the nearest subway station (minimizing my exposure to aforementioned shitty neighborhood), and there’s a decent-sized grocery store on the same block as the apartment building. Prospective roomie is a construction manager for a local chain of health clubs, and seems like a decent guy. As a bonus, the bathroom has a huge shower stall with very good water pressure… It’s important to have your priorities straight.

It’s not my first-choice scenario (I was hoping to get my own apartment), but this will be a half-decent place for me to crash for the next six months or so while I save up some money, pay off some debts and repair my credit report, and eventually (hopefully) get myself a much nicer apartment than I’d be able to get right now.

I’ve actually looked at a few pretty nice apartments over the past few days that are within my price range, but most have been located in Bed-Stuy… Supposedly an “up and coming” Brooklyn neighborhood with tons of beautiful brownstone apartments, but the neighborhood still has a long way to go before it even begins to resemble a decent place to live: Most of the apartments I looked at were at least a 20-minute walk to the subway, and I didn’t see a single full-service grocery store or drug store in all my walking around the area. I have a pretty high tolerance for rough neighborhoods, but some parts of Bed-Stuy felt downright unsafe…. East Harlem feels like a country club resort by comparison.

I have to admit, it’s been a fascinating experience exploring just about every nook and corner of New York City over the past couple weeks; most of the places I’ve been to are places I’d never set foot in if I weren’t looking for affordable housing. I’m always amazed at how much variety there is in New York’s neighborhoods… Chicago seems so damn homogeneous and segregated by comparison. Here in NYC, you’ll find a colony of homeless people living on the same block as condos selling for over $3M…. Back in Chicago, the city is rigidly divided along racial and socioeconomic boundaries, and you can easily spend months in the city without crossing those boundaries. Here in NYC, unless you never leave Midtown, you can’t avoid crossing some of those boundaries, sometimes multiple times within a few blocks.

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