Living In a Shoe-Box

I smile every single time when I hear people tell me that they imagine living in NYC means relaxing in beautiful penthouses with a view of gorgeous skyscrapers, or of Central Park. There may be a handful of people living like that over here, but I assure you that it’s unlikely you will bump into them much. Rather, they will make sure not to run into you. The truth about NYC apartments is completely different and has virtually nothing to do with the luxury I described above. The most important common feature of New York apartments is their size – they are usually very small (they’re even referred to as “shoe-boxes”). The most popular kind of NYC apartment is a studio, which means a single room including everything except a separate bathroom, or an apartment shared by a couple of people. These usually cannot be called “places with a view” – the view you’re going to get in them is typically that of a brick wall next door. These places are rarely renewed and most often they are located in old tenement houses, the tenants of which include scores of cockroaches and sometimes even mice.

If your place happened to be renovated and even has a nice view, you will definitely pay a lot (I wrote about the prices already). The apartments are often in really bad shape and you wouldn’t give them a second look under normal circumstances… but since you are in NYC, you look at things differently. You want to be able to afford a place like that and you hope for bearable roommates (you’d be surprise how many people of differing ages share apartments with roommates here). Another issue is the commute – the closer to Manhattan, the more ready to compromise you are. You clench your teeth, for the bathroom looks like a Polish shithole from the 1980s; the staircase resembles a toilet; the living room is suddenly occupied by your roomie’s best buddies; the kitchen is not suitable to cook in it; there’s vermin or there are constant parties being thrown next door. You bear with all that for two reasons: (1) you want to stay in this city, despite all circumstances working against you; (2) you know that “this is just temporary” and that one day your American dream will come true and you will be able to afford a penthouse with those gorgeous skyscrapers behind the window. I already did No. 1, now I eagerly await No. 2