Found the Apartment that I’ll Die In

I previously mentioned that one of the reasons my NYC transition was hard was the difficulty finding people to become part of my family circle. People with whom you have significant and meaningful relationships. You know they stop to listen for your reply and not walk away assuming you’re okay or for fear that you’re not and may actually really want to talk. Developing a pillar of support in each city I’ve lived in is essential, especially in the concrete jungle. The other reason my transition has been hard is because of my nomadic housing situation. Maybe it is a rite of passage for anyone planning to stay here to experience renting/housing NYC style. It’s similar to how boot camp and combat bonds soldiers. Trust me when I say, finding decent “affordable” housing in Manhattan is like war. Rent is too high and you don’t get what you pay for. It’s you against the city and other residents willing to pay a super to throw away other applications. It’s hardcore.

In two years, I’ve lived in five places. That’s sounds normal here. The constant state of flux does not suit me. I am a loner and my place of refuge is my home. I can handle anything so long as when I walk through my apartment door, it is a sanctuary from everything outside. If where I live is stressful or I hate it, my balance is off. I need home to be zen and peaceful. I cried when I moved into my former apartment. It was that depressing. My last place was a constant reminder that I was not home and how unsettled my life was. It’s enough to be here chasing a dream against the odds. However, to feel like your “home” is an institution or solitary confinement, just adds another layer of unnecessary stress. Therefore, I am happy to report that I think I’ve found the place I’ll die in (unless the book happens and I can afford a different lifestyle). I totally understand why New Yorkers stay in a place for 20+ years. Purchasing is out of reach, so you find an apartment that suits you and you don’t move. In my building, on each floor at least one person has been there 20+ years. I’m jealous because they are most likely rent controlled and I am not. Oh well, “you can’t always get what you want.” Sing with me people.

I moved back to my beloved Hell’s Kitchen/Midtown neighborhood. I can walk to everything. All my favorites. See my website for All Things Hell’s Kitchen. Moving in NYC is hectic, stressful, and a rip-off. One mover looks after the truck to make sure people don’t think your boxes on the sidewalk are for the taking. Yeah, it happens. In a city where walkups, no elevators, are common and you pay extra for walkup deliveries, why are the movers acting like they’ve done something special. I’m sorry, but your price included the walkup factor. I like to be 90% unpacked (pics hanging, clothes in closets, kitchen set) by the end of the day. Which means I was exhausted because in addition to my move, having the cable people and maintenance workers in the unit while unpacking was a lot.

My bathroom is tiny but the rest is the space is huge by NY standards. I have THREE closets! My bedroom has a space for an end table (no one side against the wall). The kitchen has a regular size stove/oven! My old apartment had a toy stove/oven – only 22″ wide (and that’s outside measurements so imagine how small the inside of the oven was). Needless to say, I did not cook at my old place. I’m looking forward to having a home cooked meal. I also have a den/office space. This is my new home and there I’ll be happily situated until my dreams are realized. Ironically, the past two weeks agents have been showing my old prison (apartment) to prospective tenants. They were giddy about all that space. Ha! My mom reminded me that when I first signed that lease I was running from a crazy roommate and at the time that old apartment seemed like heaven. Man NYC lowers your housing standards something fierce. Where’s that dude that was running for president in 2008 with a slogan “Rent Too Damn High?” I will vote for him for mayor of NYC because dude ain’t lying!

To inaugurate the kitchen, for Labor Day I’m making spare ribs, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, potato salad, baked beans, sweet corn on the cob, and corn muffins. Oh, the luxury of having a sit down meal at a real table and not a countertop. Tis’ the little things in life that brighten my day.

Home Sweet NYC Home!


Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.