This is the reality of city life.
You’re doing well if you have laundry facilities in your apartment building. You really have it made when you have a washer and dryer in your apartment. Life is different here. You carry your shopping home by hand rather than load a week’s worth into the back of your car in a spacious car park. An elevator is definitely a bonus when you’re living a few floors up. I never knew what the term ‘walk-up’ meant before living in New York city. It is a nice way of saying your building does not have an elevator and if you live on the 5th floor…. well let’s just say you will have strong calves!
After looking at numerous apartments in the city, we visited an open house just a short drive away. It made me feel a little ill. The contrast was stark. Here was a monstrosity of a house.
It had a dramatic double stairway in the front entrance hall leading up to a balcony and then an upper mezzanine decked out with wing chairs and windows looking out over the lawn and trees. There were four or five sitting rooms. A massive deck at the back had a full outdoor kitchen and space to seat about 40 people. There was a lawn and a pool. The basement could fit about three New York City apartments in it. The house was so big that the realtor showing us around couldn’t even find the entrance to the basement! The master bedroom was just ridiculous with a Jacuzzi bath, balcony and walk-in closets. I actually think the master bedroom had walk-in bedrooms off it…that’s how ridiculous this place was!
So what do you look for when you want a new place to live?
A washing machine in your own kitchen or a home that can double as a wedding venue? Or just the simple pleasure of a place to take off dirty boots and hang your jacket when you come in from an afternoon’s gardening?
The city is a crazy place where people pay high prices for small spaces crammed together in high-rise buildings. But as our friend put it – if you are living in the city and spending time in your apartment, you’re doing it wrong. City life needs to be lived in the parks and cafes and bowling alleys of the city – not in your small pokey apartment, whether or not you have your own personal washing machine.
What do you look for in a place to live?
Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? I think location, location, location is definitely near the top of the list no matter your circumstances or situation.
But I was recently made rudely aware of how the rest of the list may differ wildly for different areas not so far from each other.
In Ireland (my home for much of my life), I think people are concerned about light. We love open plan kitchens, garden and a spare bedroom/office. A separate utility room is a handy thing to have too. We want south-facing gardens and lots of windows to bring in light. There is a very popular TV show in Ireland which involves an architect travelling around our country and placing big glass boxes (rooms) onto the back of people’s properties to create a ‘wonderful sense of light and space’. In a country where it is so often cloudy it is not a surprise that we crave light so much. Also we typically prefer to have a games room than a garage, as we are not usually plagued by extreme weather. Generally, we can get much of our list if we are willing to pay as we are not a densely packed country.
We were recently looking at apartments in New York City.
Now this is a completely different beast. The right location is still a priority consideration – how far is the subway? Being close to transport links is essential for city life. But no longer are we thinking about spare beds and TV rooms. The new questions are about washing machines and storage space. It had never occurred to me before spending time in New York that you might have to bring your dirty clothes in a bag down the street to a Laundromat. Or that I’d be using my suitcases that I’ve previously stored empty in the attic as a box to keep my towels in because I don’t have enough space in the cupboards.
Another thing that was new to me was the idea of building amenities. When you have so many people living on top of each other, each building becomes its own mini neighborhood. And many provide their own services. Some offer just a small fitness center. Others have beautiful roof decks with grilling stations, swimming pools, basketball courts and one of the most popular toys– golf simulators. You can potentially also find libraries, poker tables, arcade games, cinema rooms and even a climbing wall. All without leaving your building. Of course you pay handsomely for these facilities. It could be up to $200 per month in prime Manhattan locations for the privilege of being able to scale a climbing wall before breakfast.
To be continued tomorrow…