While I had been really lucky during my first search, I got a taste of the potential problems my German friend had mentioned during my second hunt.
After eight and a half months of Flatbush, I decided to move out for various reason: First, my roommate had let an 18-year-old kid into our terrains who had stolen my jewelry. She didn’t find this a good enough reason to keep him away from the house, so I packed my belongings and tried to get out of there as soon as possible. Second, I had enough of the area and Haitian people treating me like I was an intruder of their territory and being whistled, yelled, or simply stared at when walking down the streets. I also didn’t appreciate being treated with contempt because of my skin color when buying my groceries from a local business.
Well, eight and a half months is enough time in New York to develop a pretty good idea of where you want to live and what type of roommate you can tolerate or which apartment you want to move into.
But two weeks later and after having looked at twenty apartments I still hadn’t found what I wanted. This time it was tough because I was working a 9-5 job and had to juggle writing E-Mails, calling people, and meeting up with them during my lunch breaks and after work. I think I crammed three to four locations in one extreme day. Needless to say that by the end of the day I was simply exhausted and unmotivated to move on.
The search by itself went over craigslist again, but even after haven written two ads nothing great had come along. The stories I can tell, though, they are worth it. I met the most unique people during this time period!
For example this one time when I had given other boroughs a chance and actually made my way up to Queens (again) to meet with the potential candidate. The address was almost on the last stop of the 7 train, which works great during the day but commutes badly to and fro Manhattan on weekends and nights, as I was told. From there it was an additional 15 minute walk, forcing me to picture the cold, icy wind blowing in your face for a quarter hour straight during the unbearable winter months. The guy was a friendly Indian who was already in his 40ies and lived in a shared apartment with three other girls – all of them doing their own thing, meaning they didn’t necessarily qualify in the category “social butterflies.” This was most definitely not what I was looking for. And, as I realized, I still hadn’t lost my heart in Queens.
So I focused my search on the Brooklyn sector, preferably around the Prospect Park area, because once you’ve lived there, you don’t want to live without that patch of green nature that lets you breathe fresh air once in a while. While being on my apartment-hunt, I met destroyed people, adrenaline-seeking people, artistic people … – you name it!
First category: The girl who had just divorced her husband and didn’t want any other guys visiting her future room-mate because the bare sight of a man would too hurtful for her. Splendid idea for a single girl like me! Then there was the 35-year-old lawyer who owned a thing euphemized into a “loft,” which was really only a long narrow tube and my “room” transformed itself into a box without a window. He freely admitted to smoking pot on occasion, too, and if this would be a problem for you me we’d rather not live together. I considered him a very representative man of the law and couldn’t wait to get out of the door.
Second category: The two apartments in Williamsburg who were either above a family of a drugdealer or right around the corner of one. One time I walked up the stairs and looked a desperate, homeless Junkie in the eye as I was finding my way to my appointment. That was sorta enough for me to figure that I did not want to be stabbed or shot when on my way home just because a criminal had opened up his business right next to me. I cannot believe how calm those girls were considering the circumstances they were living in.
Third category: Artists from Europe who were offering a short-term-solution. Such as this 40-year-old woman from Munich whose house was incredibly nice but I figured it would be too much stress to move out again after three months. Or the nice Swiss lady in an eight-bedroom-sublet who could only offer a month.
Surprisingly many families rent out extra rooms in their houses in New York, too. I met up with a few Haitian-rooted mothers who were showing me a hotel-style-room: Bed, closet, night stand. Maybe a lamp or two. This simply made me feel like an intruder of their family and labeled me as their paying
I even went back to looking around Flatbush, but I was glad when I came out of those rooms in one piece. No more Flatbush for me, I decided.
There was another apartment in Spanish Harlem, but this time closer to the subway station and in a livelier neighborhood. Still didn’t appeal to me. All tenants were students and appeared rather irresponsible. I also find it quite incredible what some landlords call a room considering the price they charge.
A constellation with two guys around Crown Heights might have been interesting but I did not feel too comfortable with this thought. It is New York after all, many crazy things happen here and I don’t want to play the main role in that. The same goes for two-people-households, where I felt that I needed at least another person to put some space in between. The nicest ones were of course too expensive price-wise. I still don’t get these two students who were living in a completely new apartment in Crown Heights but who didn’t have any electricity or warm water! They were still hoping that managemend would turn it on before the winter started, and, for their own sake, I suggest they did.
Finally, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I trotted to a spontaneous apartment-seeing in Park Slope, close to the train and park, and in an excellent neighborhood. Being wary of what types of people I had encountered earlier in the Slope, I didn’t get my hopes up. Then a nice Belarusian girl opened the door to a clean, newly-renovated apartment and an unfurnished room with two windows. I knew I had what I was looking for right in front of me. I got the call asking me to move in with them that same evening and didn’t hesitate to fork over the deposit slip on Monday. Certain things take time, but I had seen my share of unlikely rooms to know when to take the right one.
So if you are ever on the look-out for longer than one or two weeks in New York, don’t give up. Something will come along but be fast and grab it! I have also come to find that going on a room-search can be surprisingly refreshing. You get to met many different people and take a look at where they live and how they present themselves. It is good to move once in a while because if you get hooked on the same persons over and over again, you might be missing out on the inspiration and ideas coming from new people. That’s is also the reason why I like sharing an apartment with roommates. Sometimes people move in and out and a new roomie can add a fresh, perhaps even good vibe, to the dusty constellation.
As you might be able to tell from my previous posts, I still live in beautiful Park Slope and I have managed to stay friends with my two Eastern European roommates. Until now this has been the longest living situation for me in New York. Well, to give it some credit, it’s only been 8 months. Because we were all new to the area, we discovered the nightlife here together, which makes our connection to each other more special than usual. We sought out what Prospect Park had to offer during the summer. And we even joined the same gym (YMCA) at around the same time. I feel lucky again. I guess the best things sometimes do take the longest.
Here is to hopefully 8 more months and beyond!