When I moved to New York City 4 years ago, I was very confident of myself that I will be living this exquisite lifestyle I have dreamed of since I was in high school. My own apartment in the hippest area in Manhattan with a 24 hour doorman and a 24 hour gym, a regular at Le Bernardin or Per Se, an occasional once a week shopping trip at Barney’s or Saks, and twice a week movies at the AMC. Turns out that it was just my foolish dream that in reality, living in New York City is like a gamble. Either you will live life comfortably or just end up living in a massive pile of debt and frustration. I said goodbye to my foolish dream and began looking at affordable place outside Manhattan.
I stayed with a relative in Brooklyn Heights when I first came to New York and by the next day, I already secured 2 appointments with landlords in Queens and Brooklyn. I ended up taking a 2 Bedroom apartment inside a house with my new college friend in Astoria, Queens that was quite close to the subway and soon we realized that the landlady was not really friendly at all. She complained that we always get home late (I have no idea that 10 PM is considered late), we always made annoying noise by dragging luggage and suitcase at 1 in the morning, and we refused to do the laundry with her. My friend told me at the end of the month that she was fed up with her and decided to just rent a room somewhere else in Manhattan. I finally told the landlady that I declined extending my lease and by the end of the second month, I moved to Upper West Side part of Manhattan. It was a 1 Bedroom apartment that I had to share with another roommate who was by that time a Master student at Columbia. We agreed to actually cut some of the costs such as no cable TV and limited use of the air-conditioner and also gas. The apartment was nice and has a 24 hour doorman but no gym and it was a 5 minutes walk to 103rd St subway station.
Due to our activities, we rarely see each other except on weekends when she and I actually go to the same church on Sunday. However, after 2 years of lease, the management started to raise our rent by nearly 50% and I asked my roommate if she actually wanted to extend the lease. She actually agreed on extending but it means that we should cut more costs or perhaps find someone else to be our roommate. Our 1 BR apartment clearly was not big and finding a good roommate was not easy task at all. After much discussion, she declined the idea of finding another roommate and stick with the cutting more costs. It turned great until another year approached and the management wanted to raise the rent again by 20%. By this time, I already found a job but continue living in Manhattan with cramped space and crazy expensive rent? I told her I wanted to find my own apartment and she respected my decision. It took me almost a month before I finally found a studio apartment in Sunnyside, Queens that is bigger than the average 1 BR in Manhattan with a much more reasonable price. At first I was frustrated because the commute to work and school was longer but it became a normal activity after a month. Eventually I could save more money than when I was living in Manhattan and I feel less stressful in my current apartment.
So, have I dismiss the idea of going back to Manhattan? Not really but right now, I am comfortable at my own apartment.