So, Where Do You Live?
Guess what the most popular conversation topic is in New York (no matter if you talk to a friend or a stranger). Is it the weather…? Sure. Is it how one feels today…? That, too. Is it the place you live in…? BINGO! Where do you live? What subway station is that? How long is your commute? These questions are our daily bread. No one is surprised by hearing them, everyone asks them, no one considers them inappropriate. What’s more, it’s perfectly natural to ask how much is other person’s rent. After the standard: „Where do you live?”, the next question is always: „How much do you pay?”. No one gets offended; everyone brags about „their” deal.
If a person is paying a lot, they automatically add where the place is located and what attractions surround it. When one gets lucky – meaning that they live near Manhattan, they have their own room and pay little for it (not more than $500-$700) – they actually enjoy answering all those questions, gloating like crazy. The biggest respect and enthusiasm is guaranteed by renting a place in Manhattan. Brooklyn is not a bad option, either, though it used to be (even today everything depends on the part of it you are in). The word „Queens” is uttered in lowered voice, Bronx rarely gets mentioned at all and Staten Island practically doesn’t exist in conversations like that. (I won’t be surprised if I go there one day only to discover it’s in fact a desert island.)
If you are not lucky and you pay a lot, you haste to add: „But I’m looking for something new. A friend of a friend may have something, etc.”. You switch apartments often here. You’re always on the lookout for something „closer” (to Manhattan, of course) or cheaper. There’s always someone you know that looks for something or can help you searching, or is in need of a roommate.
A roommate is often one of the chief reasons for changing a place. I already wrote here at Just Like NY that New York is a city of freaks so it’s not unlikely that one of them will end up being your roomie. It’s normal here that you share your living space with someone else. No matter what your age is. No one will raise an eyebrow if you are „over 30” and still living with someone. Having a roommate is not just a student’s thing here. It’s rarely that you live by yourself. The second you brag about doing so, you hear: „By yourself? You’re kidding! How much do you pay?”.
Rent is sky-high here, so not many people can afford a place to rent just by themselves. You can find a one-bedroom apartment or a studio (meaning a single room with a closet that can be called a bathroom only by an optimist), but you either have to make a lot of money or you need to live far away from Manhattan. That’s why finding a good roommate is one of the key missions at the beginning of your New York adventure. Many people fail at this mission – I have to say I got very lucky in this respect.