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A Manhattan Microstudio
April 1, 2011 8:52 PM   Subscribe

She adored New York City. She idolized it all out of proportion. Sure, she paid $700 for a 90-square-foot microstudio, but New York was her town, and it always would be (via).
posted by JPowers (150 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd bid higher than that, if I could get a job in Manhattan.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 9:00 PM on April 1, 2011


I've lived like that, in a smaller space than that. It's okay for a while, but after some time you begin to just get frustrated with it.

I pay $975 for a three bedroom, two bath brick home with a breakfast nook, den, living room, big kitchen, two car garage and a huge privacy fenced back yard. Such a relief to get out of a space like that.

My bed was the same as hers. My husband and I did not like it one bit, and that claustrophobic feeling gets better, but never goes away. Especially if you're the one sleeping on the inside.

And when you have to wake up to go pee in the middle of the night and have to climb, in the dark and groggy, down a ladder? Just hold it, it's safer.
posted by Malice at 9:05 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's nothing like a post about apartments in Manhattan to make me remember how much I love Chicago.
posted by phunniemee at 9:07 PM on April 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


It may be compact, but it is more spacious than you can imagine. It's my 90 sq ft. home.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:11 PM on April 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I could live there. For like a week.
posted by oddman at 9:12 PM on April 1, 2011


It reminds me of living in a college dorm.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:17 PM on April 1, 2011


It may be compact, but it is more spacious than you can imagine. It's my 90 sq ft. home.

More power to you, if that's what you like.
posted by Malice at 9:17 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reasons why I live in a depopulated post-industrial city. I can live a twenty minute walk from downtown and buy a 2500 sq foot 1865 row house with a 2000 sq foot garage/shop in the back for $200K. I do love NYC and I know that not all of New York is central Manhattan but I'm just too spoiled by my little mid-western city to deal with that.
posted by octothorpe at 9:18 PM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Had a friend who had the same setup. Alot of buildings seem to have those, don't know if they were shared bathrooms at one time or utility closets or what.

This guy had just left the military and gotten a divorce. He had every single one of his worldly belongins in there. He slept on foam in pretty much a cave of junk.

Now that was sad.

I have an apt in Manhattan and that girl's place is about as big as my cedar closet.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:20 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


$700 for 90sqft.
$3600 for an average apt on the upper west side.

I'm guessing the average apts on the upper west side are MORE than 5 times larger than that...so she's actually paying more per foot than the other peeps.

Yikes.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:20 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


An even cooler setup linked in the Gawker comments.
posted by defenestration at 9:23 PM on April 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


But can you bring 4 roommates into a 450 square foot apartment and live there three years without pushing one or more bodies into the airshaft?

I'm intrigued by her space, but the lack of kitchen and the severe lack of headroom above the bed would kill me.
posted by maudlin at 9:26 PM on April 1, 2011


For five years in my twenties, I lived in a 10 x 15" room in a rooming house in Rosedale (one of Toronto's nicest neighbourhoods), and shared the bathroom and kitchen with the other residents, who were all mental cases. My rent as of 2001, when I moved out, was $410/month. I'd rather have had her space. I had far less stuff than her and she has so much more privacy. I think the lack of a real stove and the ceiling so close above the bed would have bothered me though.
posted by orange swan at 9:26 PM on April 1, 2011


Sorry, that should have been "a 10' x 15' room". I'm not claiming to be able to live in a 10 x 15" space for any length of time.
posted by orange swan at 9:30 PM on April 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think my magazines would fit in there. Which probably says more about me than her.

I actually kind of like it; as orange swan wisely notes privacy is worth a vast reduction in space for some of us.
posted by maxwelton at 9:30 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a solution to your space and budget limitations, lady. It's called the Bronx.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:32 PM on April 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


And, actually, if she has something like an all-night coffee house or other semi-quiet place she can "outsource" her living room functions to, that would make it reasonably bearable.

It would be extremely difficult for two people, no matter how much they loved each other, for anything other than a weekend, I would think.
posted by maxwelton at 9:32 PM on April 1, 2011


Hal_c_on, I think maybe the 90sq ft was not including her bathroom.

When I lived in Ottawa, I went to look at an apartment in the Byward Market. I inquired and three college guys looked out the door. The young guy said, "Sure, just keep your boots on and follow me." I followed him out the door, around to the other side of the building, up a flight a stairs, to a door. He knocked and a guy answered. It was a 3.5x8ft room. Actually, it was a foyer to an apartment. I asked if the door at the back of the room would connect me back to the apartment where I'd started. And the guy goes, "NO! The people upstairs would be really upset if you tried to go in there." So I asked how they got in and out. "Through the window and out the fire escape."

True story.
posted by acoutu at 9:34 PM on April 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


orange swan, that was the first thing I thought of too. Basically this is just a single-room-occupancy with a private washroom. So, I honestly do not want to snark at the microstudio lady, because her ability to fit her life into that small of a space is super-cool, but in reality poor people have been doing this for a long time.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:35 PM on April 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'll never understand the appeal of living in Manhattan when there are so many cheaper options in (beautiful, spacious) Brooklyn. I know people renting a gorgeous 2BR in Park Slope for $1275. A couple renting a huge glass-walled 1BR with amazing view in Williamsburg for $1800. A couple who rents an entire floor of a brownstone in Prospect Heights for less than $2000. And I also know about a dozen people who are spending $2000 or more on studios in Manhattan. It just...baffles me.
posted by artemisia at 9:35 PM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seriously though, this type of ridiculousness is the biggest price signal ever. We need more walkable urban living spaces.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


$700 for that cupboard? Oh my god, she is being taken for a terrible, terrible ride.
posted by elizardbits at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


My first thought was "I think I could live there. Could I live there with my wife? Not a chance." My partner and I are pretty darn codependent, go everywhere together, do everything together, but still.
We live in a 600 sq ft suite right now, two bedrooms, private backyard and garden, in a mid-Canadian city, for $900. Suits us just fine.

Like her, though, we have to straddle the bathroom fixtures to sit on the toilet. You get used to it.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:38 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her book seems to have great reviews, for what that's worth.

I can't disparage someone for this if they actually dig it. I mean, I think some people just want to live in NYC because it's a happening place but they're really not doing anything interesting. Those are the one's I tend to sneer at because they need to define themselves by the external landscape. This lady is a fairly prolific published writer so it makes sense for her to live near the publishers and news outlets.

Anyway, I'm a degenerate yuppie and our master bathroom, including wife's closet, is bigger than her whole apartment by at least 150%. That apartment seems like a maximum security prison cell.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 PM on April 1, 2011


Love the thread's title. What an amazing movie.

There is nothing as great as living IN Manhattan if what you want to do it live IN Manhattan. Kudos for her for finding a way. Brooklyn is great and the next best thing, but it's not Manhattan.

People suggesting she could have [x much more space] if she'd live in [y area] are the people with missed-placed priorities, IMHO.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:39 PM on April 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


I hope that, when she says that she's a professional organizer, she's talking about organizing events or something because there is an incredible lack of imagination going on with her shelving and furniture.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:40 PM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


She seems to like it, so yay. I think it may be smaller than the one-room double I lived in freshman year in college. And can that bathroom really be to code? It's not just that it's small; aren't there codes about minimum number of inches between the front of the toilet and the wall, for instance?
posted by rtha at 9:43 PM on April 1, 2011


For five years in my twenties, I lived in a 10 x 15" room in a rooming house in Rosedale (one of Toronto's nicest neighborhoods), and shared the bathroom and kitchen with the other residents, who were all mental cases.

I lived in a 10 x 11 room, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with three other people who also happened to be mental cases, for about 18 years. I still go back and visit them on holidays sometimes.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:44 PM on April 1, 2011 [47 favorites]


People suggesting she could have [x much more space] if she'd live in [y area] are the people with missed-placed priorities, IMHO.

I would think they would come right back and say that the people who are willing to live in a tiny old box just so they can live somewhere in Manhattan are the ones with misplaced priorities. It's great to be in an energetic place, but it's not your core being. Usually, the most aggressive "NYC Rules, Your city is bland and you live in a bubble!" types are transplants themselves, and are walking around with an inflated sense of undeserved self-importance because they happen to live in a certain place. They're often not cultural pioneers or entrepreneurs, they're drones just making ends meet so they really don't have any right to lay claim to being hip or anything just by virtue of their zipcode.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 PM on April 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


God, I would hate to be disabled/mobility impaired in Manhattan. How many places that are wheelchair accessible are withingthe financial means of mere mortals?
posted by tristeza at 9:45 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, that should have been "a 10' x 15' room". I'm not claiming to be able to live in a 10 x 15" space for any length of time

That's OK, it brought a smile (and reminded me of this scene)
posted by kurumi at 9:55 PM on April 1, 2011


In Cambridge, UK, we saw $900 USD (£450) /month for a 100-200 sq ft studio. And that's not even a big city.
posted by jb at 9:56 PM on April 1, 2011


I was fine until I saw the bed and broke out in a cold sweat. The place I'm moving into tomorrow is small by many standards, but I can sit up in the middle of the night.
posted by doublehappy at 9:57 PM on April 1, 2011


Just for comparison's sake, in the USA's most depopulated city, I am paying $550 a month (utilities included) for a 700 sqft studio that's a 10 minute walk from the CBD.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:59 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice reference!
posted by John Cohen at 10:00 PM on April 1, 2011


Downsized space from Clapham (2 bedroom, garden) to Central London (1 bedroom, no garden) whilst paying slightly more per week.

Best decision ever. Partner and I both walk to work (10 - 15 minutes) -- well, we walk everywhere instead of spending 2 hours+ a day on public transit and in taxis. Whilst I miss the space (especially the garden), we have an extra 3 hours a day between us.

We just celebrated a year in Central yesterday and figured the move gave us an 1,000 hours in the last year. That's nearly 20 full days each.

All said and done, we're actually saving money overall between not paying transit charges and cooking much more. Time spent cooking seemed almost perfectly inversely correlated with commuting time.

In our experience, there are very few cost-neutral lifestyle gains so effective as cutting out commuting time. It's amazing how downsizing can lead to such a massive increase in health and happiness.
posted by nickrussell at 10:01 PM on April 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


That loft bed seems kind of limited
when it comes to sexual positions.
...I just couldnt help but notice.
posted by quazichimp at 10:02 PM on April 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I lived in a studio apartment in NYC that had a lofted bed space like that. I never used it as anything but storage because I felt claustrophobic up there even without a mattress taking a way a few precious inches, plus the ladder was really hard to use being bolted straight up and down against the wall. The rest of the place was definitely bigger than her space though (with a kitchen that had a mini-dishwasher - if one dish needed to be washed they pretty much all got washed since that's where I stored them) and I slept on a futon in the main space "downstairs".

It was my first ever apartment on my own and I loved it, small as it was. Even though I was then and still am a homebody I felt very much like the whole rest of NYC was my mansion.
posted by marylynn at 10:08 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was an FPP some time back about the guy in Hong Kong. His apartment looks cool, but constantly sliding around walls and flipping things up and down would become really annoying after awhile.

"I hope that, when she says that she's a professional organizer, she's talking about organizing events or something because there is an incredible lack of imagination going on with her shelving and furniture."

It looks like she's still in transition from her old lifestyle to the current one. When she gets her possessions whittled down to the absolute minimum it will probably free up quite a bit of that storage space.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:09 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


People suggesting she could have [x much more space] if she'd live in [y area] are the people with missed-placed priorities, IMHO.

There's missed-placed priorities, and then there's the law of diminishing returns. As soon as you close the apartment door, the differences in neighbourhoods pretty much vanish.

You can spend your money on rent, or on RRSPs and shoes. Your call.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:10 PM on April 1, 2011


Meet my old apartment in Paranaque, Metro Manila. It was a touch over 90 sq ft (about 10 sq m in an L shape) but I often had to share it with a roommate. Rent: 2500 pesos/month, or about $58. No air conditioning, by the way. Or hot water.
posted by brownpau at 10:10 PM on April 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like the fact she won't just give up and move to Brooklyn.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:16 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would defintely much rather store stuff up top and sleep below. It's not just the size of the apartment is that it's so very narrow, it seems like a coffin; those big shelves and stacks of folded clothes out in the open don't help.
posted by amethysts at 10:19 PM on April 1, 2011


I don't think anyone in this situation has misplaced priorities, either the ones who want to live in a tiny apartment in order to be in a city they like OR the ones who think it's a better idea to live nearby in a larger space. No one's priorities are misplaced, they're just theirs and not the other people's.
posted by titus n. owl at 10:19 PM on April 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


"In my travels around the globe, I've often heard people boast, 'You can buy a mansion here for less than the price of a studio apartment in Manhattan.' Nobody ever questions why those mansions are less valuable than 400 square feet overlooking an airshaft on 83rd Street." — Richard Florida, Who's Your City?
posted by John Cohen at 10:20 PM on April 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


Yes, but people also used to pay lots of money for Beanie Babies.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:22 PM on April 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


There was an FPP some time back about the guy in Hong Kong.

This guy.
posted by cazoo at 10:23 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, that's a lot like my apartment and I've been happily here in a miniature Hell's Kitchen place (plastic shower box in the Kitchen, toilet in a closet) for 24 years, have guests over and everything. Like living on a boat. Fun.
posted by nickyskye at 10:37 PM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I had to live in NYC, I think they only place I'd be moderately happy is a block away from central park.

(All my beloved New Yorker families and friends keep trying to convince me that Brooklyn is green enough but when I'm like, "Are there woods somewhere where I can go for a walk and not see anyone?" they just kind of stare blankly back. Country mouse, here.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:37 PM on April 1, 2011


It looks like she's still in transition from her old lifestyle to the current one. When she gets her possessions whittled down to the absolute minimum it will probably free up quite a bit of that storage space.

I think she said she had been there three years and counting.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:42 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her sleeping area reminded me of an oddly-shaped room* I rented for a year in college - I could just fit my twin mattress into the "nook" in the corner of the room, not enough height for a frame or a box spring. When I woke up in the morning I had to train myself to not sit up suddenly, or I'd bump my head on the ceiling/wall. When I moved from there to my next apartment, I still would do my snake-roll when the alarm clock went off, until my subconscious mind finally understood I now I had a decent height ceiling above my head.

(the smallness of her place didn't bother me that much, but I could NEVER sleep in that tiny sandwich of space. Not ever.)

*it was right underneath the roof of the house. I would be up all night hearing the squirrels run across the roof. I really hoped they were squirrels.
posted by pinky at 10:43 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Are there woods somewhere where I can go for a walk and not see anyon

Prospect park is huge, and bit more wild than Central Park. I'm not sure there is a spot in central park more than 50 feet from another person except maybe parts of the extreme northern part. There are parts of Prospect Park, where you can, and I did as a kid, acually get lost because there are many fewer buildings on the horizon to walk towards.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:49 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got nothing against tiny studio apartments, but really, that place could be more comfortably configured. The bed platform is just idiotically close to the ceiling, and i say this as someone who once had a lofted bed.

That she says that she's a professional organizer just before stepping on the seat of her rolling desk chair to access her shelves made me wince. As did the "but I'm in NEW YORK CITY" qualifications every thirty seconds.
posted by desuetude at 10:54 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not saying that Central Park would be perfect--it'd just be as close to okay as it would get to me, for Manhattan.

(Prospect Park is pretty good. But i still prefer to live outside of the city. And outside of 90-sq-foot spaces, too.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:54 PM on April 1, 2011


They're often not cultural pioneers or entrepreneurs, they're drones just making ends meet so they really don't have any right to lay claim to being hip or anything just by virtue of their zipcode.

So, moving to Manhattan is like applying to a co-op?
posted by dhartung at 10:55 PM on April 1, 2011


??

Supply and demand. The demand is for being somewhere that's desirable; different people have different criteria for what is desirable.

In Vancouver, I live in Kits; it takes 15 minutes (at peak hours, this includes average random wait time) for me to get to work (university campus) by (university subsidized) public transit, I can walk to get fresh groceries (at much lower prices than supermarkets), I'm in walking distance to a dozen+ bars/pubs, movies/plays/raves are all within 30 minutes public transit, and I'm a 10 minute walk to the beach. Wilderness can be had with a 2 hour bus ride or a 45 minute drive. *Absolute* wilderness can be had for a couple of hours drive. I can rent a car and get to the mountains for skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing within an hour, 2 hours by bus. Lots of local ice rinks if I want to ice skate or participate in rec league hockey. Lots of stuff like cooking classes for a huge variety of different cuisines, dancing classes for a variety of different styles. Variety of clubs downtown (all totally lame in comparison, right?).

Sure, it's not NYC or LA but it's also not NYC/LA housing cost. It's also not Cedar Rapids, IA or Salina, KS.

Different people place different values on living environments.

Still, expected income makes deciding where one lives is a factor; you make mad money? You get to choose where you live. If you make less, well, fuck. That's capitalism for you. Choose a different city or try for a different job.
posted by porpoise at 11:06 PM on April 1, 2011


I dig her place but I would have opted for a much thinner mattress in order to gain more head room. In fact, I think Id just use a really nice sleeping mat and have a butt load of blankets and pillows up there. That mattress she has in there is like 12 inches high!
posted by ian1977 at 11:38 PM on April 1, 2011


A couple summers ago my girlfriend and I took a bike tour down the Pacific coast. In order to save on carried luggage, we shared a single one-person tent. That was some close quarters, there... It was only for a couple of weeks, and and we spent the great majority of time outdoors, of course. And the tent warmed up really quickly once we got into it!
posted by kaibutsu at 11:40 PM on April 1, 2011


Wow. I would wake up terrified in her bedroom. I got claustrophobic just watching the video.

My west end Toronto loft is 970sf, 14ft ceilings, hardwood floors, exposed brick and ceiling beams. My upstairs is much larger than hers (125sf maybe) and slightly taller (I can stand up in it but have to duck around the beams to walk). I can sit up in bed. $1042 including everything but laundry.
posted by dobbs at 11:42 PM on April 1, 2011


Time to brag about my spot in Manhattan. Classic 6, 2br 2bath. Everything original including a pie cooling rack in an external wall, servants call system, double swing door in the kitchen. Ceder closet and herringbone hardwood floors.

The flaw: every single Window opens on an air shaft. I think they violated the laws of time and space to make that happen.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:00 AM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If she's happy there, good for her. That's great that she has "libraries all over" and "the subway's two blocks away." But I suspect her friends have to listen to her constantly rationalize why it's totally worth it to be In The Heart of the Big Apple, and it's Fantastic That Central Park is Right Around the Corner! And if I were her friend, and I had to listen to that all the time, I'd tell her to move to Sunnyside already. The Central Park West mystique wears thin faster than you might think
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 12:19 AM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I lived in a tiny caravan in the woods for a year or so, a couple of (very pleasant) miles' walk from work. Cost nothing and of course you could sit on your step in the big outdoors and watch the wildlife. Inside cramped but cosy with a home-welded wood stove. One of the happiest years of my youth (rent-free is the best feeling). Entirely unrelated to the problems of urban living I admit, just indulging a happy memory prompted by the notion of living in a small space.
posted by Abiezer at 12:54 AM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


She was being interviewed about the place, dixiecup, so naturally she talked about it and explained what she likes about it. I would suspect (hope?) that she doesn't spend all her waking hours rationalizing her living arrangement to her friends.
posted by knave at 12:56 AM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Comment from my fiancé: 'You can't have sex in that bed'. 'Nuff said.

Interesting space and she seems to enjoy the combination of location & being forced to stay organised.

Reminds me of friends in NY who lived a few blocks from Central Park in a tiny apt. 200sqft a few floors above 10th avenue and one of the noisiest places on earth.

They now have a place 3 times the size for less in Astoria. Corner place, beautiful views, 2 cats and in some ways easier to get around on the Subway as it's a block to the station rather than 3. And so much quieter. I enjoy NY much more now I get sleep and space when I'm there ;-)
posted by i_cola at 1:07 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Time to brag about my spot in Manhattan. Classic 6, 2br 2bath. Everything original including a pie cooling rack in an external wall, servants call system, double swing door in the kitchen. Ceder closet and herringbone hardwood floors.

ATTENTION EVERYONE. AD HOMINEM WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT S/HE IS EXTRAORDINARILY AFFLUENT AND / OR PRIVILEGED.
posted by dersins at 1:17 AM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Just moderately affluent and/or privileged. If ah was extraordinarily affluent, his/her windows would have views.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:21 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my rooms has a dirt floor. Oh, wait, it's a yard!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:25 AM on April 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I live in the top drawer of a beautiful chest inside an apartment on the upper west side. It's an original Karl Farbman.
posted by mullacc at 2:10 AM on April 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I take it none of you have ever licked the road clean with your tongue?

The thing about space is you can always find a way to fill it, and always want more (until it's time to clean, of course). I have what amounts to a dream workshop in our new house (in a way that won't get me into any rich guy's magazines with endless Ferraris everywhere and matching cabinets nicer than anything in my house) and I still ponder how I'm going to be able to fit in everything I want.
posted by maxwelton at 2:29 AM on April 2, 2011




That may be true. I will forsake my privilege when you do. Ready to suffer from disintary? There is alway someone less fortnate than you.

posted by Ad hominem at 2:32 AM on April 2, 2011


Btw I guess I screwed over the working man by learning to program. Most of my posts about NY are about growing up watching rats fight feral dogs. But it is true, as a man I should feel nothing but shame. Oddly nobody who talks about their palace in the suburbs gets attacked.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:43 AM on April 2, 2011


ATTENTION EVERYONE. AD HOMINEM WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT S/HE IS EXTRAORDINARILY AFFLUENT AND / OR PRIVILEGED.
posted by dersins at 9:17 AM on April 2 [+] [!]


Attention: reasonably fed person on internet uses computer in peaceful (at least domestically) Western state to make statement about privilege of another poster. The irony goggles may not be helping me.
posted by jaduncan at 2:47 AM on April 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't quite get why, when she has a window with a view to the street (and not into an air shaft), she puts a TV in front of it, and has her lounge chair & desk facing away from it?!??

Some mirrors to catch the view & light from the window would also help increase the sense of space. A great big scaffolding rig full of clutter in the form of boxes & trays, on the other hand, does not.

She'd also do much better to use that claustrophobic loft for storage, and use the space gained in the main part of the apartment for sleeping. She could take some tips from the Japanese, who (in small spaces like this) roll up futons during the day, sit on tatami matting with little nested tables, then at night roll the futons out to sleep on. Sitting down at floor level also increases the sense of space, by maximising the headroom.

She may be a professional organiser, but she certainly isn't an interior designer.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:04 AM on April 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm guessing the average apts on the upper west side are MORE than 5 times larger than that...so she's actually paying more per foot than the other peeps.

Well, yes. If 90sq ft apartments were cheaper per sq ft, landlords would convert multiple 90 sq ft apartments into single higher rent units, instead of the other way around.
posted by fings at 3:14 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly just super jealous.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 4:09 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I lived in 110 square feet (no loft, but with a micro kitchen) with someone for a few months. It was one of the best times of my life. I could happily live in that space. I don't need much. I tend to feel like I rattle around in larger spaces.
posted by Nothing at 4:27 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I take it none of you have ever licked the road clean with your tongue?

No, but in the 1960's, my mother used to scour the pavement outside our house and the houses next door on either side every day with a piece of sandstone in a ritual she referred to as 'doing the steps'.

We're talking the whole pavement, from the front of the house, to the kerb, the full length of all three houses. (Grandparents on one side, old lady on the other -- or she would have loudly and regularly condemned them as dirty and lazy for not conducting this ritual themselves.)

Transplant that pavement to Manhattan, and I bet she'd get at least $1500 a month in rent for it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:00 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 2000-2002 I lived in a 120 sq. ft. apartment in Manhattan, with myself, my significant other at the time and our rottweiler. It was $1175, rent controlled in year 2000 money. It seemed like a deal at the time, and the location (Prince St. between Thompson and Sullivan was fantastic). Having lived in Brooklyn the last 9 years, in a huge apartment, I now see the insanity of Manhattan real estate.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 5:11 AM on April 2, 2011


1. Maybe she doesn't have/want sex.
2. 10th Avenue is not near Central Park.
3. Central Park is just one of the parks in Manhattan. I live on Riverside Park which is on the Hudson River. Carl Schurz Park is on the East River. The "wildest" parks, which are on subway liens, and in which you can easily (and safely) walk without bumping into many people, are in northern Manhattan -- Fort Tryon and Inwood. And then, of course, there are a million pocket parks.
4. How come others can brag about their spaces but Adhominem can not? These NYC threads always bring out the haters, you can set your watch by it.
5. She seems quite happy with her choice of how to live, and digging her funny niche, so to speak.
6. Writing NYers off as drones just needing the right zip code ... wow.
7. It's not true that once you close the apartment door, all the neighborhoods are the same. Many NYers use their apartments as base, not nest, so we're in and out and interacting more frequently. I can name -- and I mean their names -- 7 shop owners within a 3-block radius, and I can tell you where they are from and what their basic family composition is.
8. Must we have the Astoria/Park Slope conversation again? I've been living in Manhattan since the dawn of time, and that conversation has been had and had and had and still. It's not the same. It's just not. Not better, not worse, but different. And that "different" part is why people compromise to live here. What's it to ya?!
posted by thinkpiece at 5:28 AM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


You were lucky to have a lake900 sq ft microstudio! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in a shoebox in the middle of't road!
posted by kcds at 5:39 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know people renting a gorgeous 2BR in Park Slope for $1275. A couple renting a huge glass-walled 1BR with amazing view in Williamsburg for $1800. A couple who rents an entire floor of a brownstone in Prospect Heights for less than $2000.

The amounts your friends in P. Slope and Prospect Heights are paying is atypica, to say the least. Every apt I ever looked at in those neighborhoods was at least $1600-1800 for small, ugly one bedrooms. Williamsburg is kind of a grab bag considering all the empty high rises in the neighborhood at the moment. Sometimes you can get great deals for reasonably cheap. I did, but it came with a negligent landlord.

I worked as a mover in NYC for. Couple of years, and I moved a guy into a similarly sized apt. to the one in the video on the upper west side except it the bathroom was communal and the building was in much worse shape. The whole time I kept wanting to say "are you sure you want to do this?"
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:07 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


ATTENTION EVERYONE. AD HOMINEM WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT S/HE IS EXTRAORDINARILY AFFLUENT AND / OR PRIVILEGED.

That's not what I got from ad
Hominem's comment at all, but I don't know what a "classic 6" is. Does that mean that you live in an antique car?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:12 AM on April 2, 2011


A double-digit percentage of humans live in a smaller space than this woman, no toilet or shower, no mattress, no mini fridge packed with food, no book deals, no parks, no hope.

Perspective. Keeps me moving forward.
posted by dbiedny at 6:41 AM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


That bed is a dealbreaker for me. I need to sit up in bed and read. That looks so claustrophobia-inducing. Otherwise I like a lot how she's pared her possessions. It sort of reminds me of those pod hotels in Japan.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:41 AM on April 2, 2011


I also winced when she climbed onto that rolling chair. Unless those shelves are better-anchored than they look to be, sooner or later she's going to pull one of them down onto herself when her chair gets away from her. Also, she'd gain a lot of headroom if she got a thinner mattress, and would not necessarily sacrifice any comfort doing it.

But then, I wouldn't pay that much money for an upgraded prison cell, anyway - even if it is in the middle of NYC.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:47 AM on April 2, 2011


LOL at all the NY hating in this thread. The reason NYC real estate is expensive is because so many people want to live here. So the more people that think of it as an unlivable hell, the better for those of us who couldn't imagine living anyplace else.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:56 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


How in the world do you change the sheets on the bed and still maintain sanity?
posted by double bubble at 6:57 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I can see my house in that link.

There's a really great pub over on 72nd that almost makes the entire yoga pants neighborhood worth it.
posted by The Whelk at 6:58 AM on April 2, 2011


Also, she is literally living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Move up 50 blocks and I bet she could spread out a bit,
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 AM on April 2, 2011


Just watching this video (especially the part with the bed) makes me feel like I'm going to have a claustrophobic panic attack. And I'm neither claustrophobic, nor prone to panic attacks.

New York is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. This is one of the main reasons.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:00 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway these conversations always go the same way cause sooner or later all NYC conversation turns to real estate.

And I'd probably literally kill another living being for a classic 6 .
posted by The Whelk at 7:06 AM on April 2, 2011


It's better than the apartment I looked at once in the East Village. It was right over an Irish bar on 1st Ave., somewhere near 4th Street. I had high hopes - it was cheap as hell - until Dennis, the landlord/bartender unlocked the doors and ushered us in.

I'm 5'10". The ceilings were 5'7".

"It's a great space," complained Dennis. "I don't know why it's so hard to rent. You don't need to stand up at home."

Ah, Dennis, landlord of leprechauns. At least it had a kitchen. My then 6 year old daughter and I ended up living for two years in a square studio, about 300 square feet, across from the Theatre for the New City. She slept in the loft; I slept on the futon that was also a couch and there was enough of a hallway kitchen that I baked bread and threw dinner parties. It was great when I was in my twenties; couldn't do it now. Back to the FPP though, I'm going to agree with everyone who says well, she might be a professional organizer but she's definitely not much of a designer. There are ways to live in small spaces that don't involve climbing on rolling chairs to get your stuff out.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:06 AM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not like Brooklyn is that much cheaper. At the middle-to-high end of the market, yes; at the low end of the market, no, there's a minimum you just can't get under. I pay $850 for a 400 square foot studio in a pretty low-income section of Brooklyn, and this is the first time since moving to Brooklyn that I've actually been able to afford to live without roommates. Sure, it's not 90 square feet, but it's right at the minimum end of what you can get an apartment for. Other apartments in my price range? Well, one was in Canarsie and the bathroom ceiling was too low for me to stand up straight in the shower; one was in Canarsie and would have needed all the carpets replaced.

(Unfortunately, with no car and a job in Canarsie, moving to Jersey or Queens isn't really an option).
posted by Jeanne at 7:08 AM on April 2, 2011


Everyone knows the best apartment deals come from knowing people, which you learn after spending a year literally sleeping in the living room closet with two Korean babpists who require you to have a completely separate set of cook and eating wear, all clearly marked and never, ever touching each other.
posted by The Whelk at 7:11 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey mygothlaundry, we where almost neighbors! I slept on the floor of theatre for the new city!

The day the mission cafe took down a portrait of me that hung over the register was a sad day indeed.
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 AM on April 2, 2011


Oddly nobody who talks about their palace in the suburbs gets attacked.

That would be this thread.

Many NYers use their apartments as base, not nest, so we're in and out and interacting more frequently.

A college buddy of mine in Seattle lives in a 400 sqft condo that's roughly the same size and arrangement of the average hotel room. It works for him because he has the same lifestyle you're describing. He just isn't home all that much.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:16 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A double-digit percentage of humans live in a smaller space than this woman, no toilet or shower, no mattress, no mini fridge packed with food, no book deals, no parks, no hope.

Ugh. Why do you have to be THAT GUY?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:18 AM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I dated a guy who lived in a slightly bigger UWS micro studio for $900. He offered to help me find a studio in the building, but I really don't like that neighborhood. It's really boring for 20-somethings and frankly anything nice there besides the park is too expensive to enjoy. Maybe that's why these microstudios are so cheap comparatively. It's very hard to get a studio for that price in hip Brooklyn neighborhoods like Park Slope, Prospect Heights, or Williamsburg. But then again it's hard to get UWS studios, you really have to know someone.
posted by melissam at 7:21 AM on April 2, 2011


Yeah the entire area is one big organic baby food store.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on April 2, 2011


I had to convert that to metric to get the idea. 8m²!!! That must be just the room without the bathroom? Please tell me the room isn't actually smaller than 8m²? It doesn't look sooo ridiculously tiny from the video.

I'm in awe. I live (and work) in a small studio that's 4 times that size in a city I love and I do moan about the lack of space. I still have my own tradeoffs for that, but I could not imagine living in a place that much smaller. Obviously living in Manhattan matters a huuuge lot to this woman.

As soon as you close the apartment door, the differences in neighbourhoods pretty much vanish.

Hmm, it depends, for some people it may matter less, but believe me, when you live on your own in a small place in a big city, and no car, the neighbourhood does tend to matter a LOT more.

You do tend to get out more, you end up seeing the immediate surroundings as an extension of your living space, you want to have a good deal of what you like about the city within walking distance, or at least within reasonable distance with public transport. And parks!

You'd end up feeling twice as claustrophobic if you didn't get a nice "I live here!" feeling the moment you go out the house door into the streets.

And in the end, which particular city and which particular area in that city gives you that feeling is entirely personal, it's a matter of taste and lifestyle and choice. I wouldn't be physically able to put up with 90 sq ft no kitchen and that scary loft bed even if had a friggin balcony over Central Park, but I'm not Felice Cohen. She lives exactly where she wants to live, she does sound cool and happy with it, so, wow. I have nothing but admiration for managing to put up with 8m² for 3 years. It's like extreme sports.
posted by bitteschoen at 7:25 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came up with a fake French phrase to explain the feeling of neighborhoodness and friendliness and interconnectivity an area possesses: Joie De Ville
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 AM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


the park is too expensive to enjoy

I may be one of those provincial hicks who only go to NYC ever so often to gawk at everything, but even though I now own a bridge, I have never fallen for that "admission to the park" dodge.

Or am I missing something?
posted by Danf at 7:31 AM on April 2, 2011


Yes, the part of the phrase: anything nice there besides the park.
posted by rtha at 7:36 AM on April 2, 2011


One of the things that pushed me and my family out of NYC was apartment hunting. I remember looking at a 250 sqft one room basement apartment at the ass end of the #2 train in the Bronx that reeked of mildew and had a single window, maybe one square foot, that was actually below the street level, protected from the outside by a steel grate on the sidewalk. This was in 1994, and that place was the only place we found that was even close to being affordable on what I earned there at the time.

The next week I had a job interview in Atlanta. New York City will always be home, but there are just better ways to live.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:09 AM on April 2, 2011


"After a job was finished, we'd stand on the street drinking beer or foul-tasting Gatorade. The tip would be discussed, as would the disadvantages of living in this particular neighborhood. It was generally agreed that a coffin-size studio on Avenue D was preferable to living in one of the boroughs. Moving from one Brooklyn or Staten Island neighborhood to another was fine, but unless you had children to think about, even the homeless saw it as a step down to leave Manhattan. Customers quitting the island for Astoria or Cobble Hill would claim to welcome the change of pace, saying it would be nice to finally have a garden or live a little closer to the airport. They'd put a good face on it, but one could always detect an underlying sense of defeat. The apartments might be bigger and cheaper in other places, but one could never count on their old circle of friends making the long trip to attend a birthday party. Even Washington Heights was considered a stretch. People referred to it as Upstate New York, though it was right there in Manhattan." -- David Sedaris
posted by introp at 8:11 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So encouraging to see that I'm not the only one! Though, I would feel a whole lot better about myself if her place didn't outsize mine by 12 sq ft. Regardless, I'm much happier with my layout -- at least I can play in bed. I call it my NYC tree house and I temporarily feel better about the situation.
posted by goodsignal at 8:26 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


These dumbasses need to learn to cross a bridge. On second thought, I'd rather they didn't.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 AM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where does she clean her dishes or wash vegetables or do any kind of food prep? I know that there's a little sink in the bathroom but that just seems a bit icky to me.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 8:33 AM on April 2, 2011


Ugh. Why do you have to be THAT GUY?

This is Metafilter: we usually take it in turns.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:42 AM on April 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Every once in a while I check out the listings in NYC to see what I could get there paying the same in rent as what I pay for my mortgage on a 4bd/3.5ba set on five acres (exactly the dimensions of a NYC block, as it happens) in rural Ohio.

Let's just say that I would have to downsize. A lot.

And sometimes, that downsizing idea is really appealing. I've often thought about spending a year or two in NYC to have the experience of being a New Yorker. I think about what I would have to downsize in a material sense (basically, everything), but I think now more than ever it's possible to do: Give me an iPod touch, a Nook and a laptop and there go boxes and boxes of stuff. I've got a lot of crap; it would not be horrible to let a lot of it go. There are other tradeoffs as well, but someone who would go from one pole of American existence to another and not expect tradeoffs is not thinking it through.

I like where I live now very much but I imagine I would live living a NYC life too. I wouldn't expect one lifestyle to have much to do with the other, however.
posted by jscalzi at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pshaw. All the professional organizers I know are able to sleep vertically.
posted by digsrus at 8:56 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


That loft bed seems kind of limited
when it comes to sexual positions.
...I just couldnt help but notice.


It is. Trust me.

You don't have sex in any position but side by side in that type of bed. If you want better sex, you have to climb down.
posted by Malice at 9:00 AM on April 2, 2011


All my beloved New Yorker families and friends keep trying to convince me that Brooklyn is green enough but when I'm like, "Are there woods somewhere where I can go for a walk and not see anyone?" they just kind of stare blankly back. Country mouse, here.

There are reasons to prefer Manhattan over Brooklyn, of course, but "there's more wild/green space in Manhattan" has to be the most baffling I've heard in a while.
posted by oliverburkeman at 9:11 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where does she clean her dishes or wash vegetables or do any kind of food prep?

Eh I guess it would be the sink in the bathroom, but, I don't picture a lot of food prep going on there. She doesn't even have a cooker! only a toaster oven. You don't need to wash stuff that goes in a toaster oven. Or bananas.
posted by bitteschoen at 9:19 AM on April 2, 2011


There are reasons to prefer Manhattan over Brooklyn, of course, but "there's more wild/green space in Manhattan" has to be the most baffling I've heard in a while.

No, no. The point was that I prefer not living in the boroughs at all. It's fine for other people. Just not me.

(Not that my current place in Northern Virginia is any better. But I look forward to the time when I can have a huge overgrown yard to hang out in all by my lonesome.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 AM on April 2, 2011


If you want better sex, you have to climb down.

That's what the teeny chair in the corner is for!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, the part of the phrase: anything nice there besides the park.

My bad.
posted by Danf at 9:29 AM on April 2, 2011


I'd do the bed differently but could totally live there and soak up New York, New York. Maybe not forever, but seems v. cool to me. An adventure!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:33 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it really depends on what you what you use your home for. If it was a place I was spending extended time besides eating in, I would probably want some space. But a lot of my activities are outside, I don't have any children, and while I enjoy cooking for myself, I would much prefer to bring food to someone else's house for a party rather than host one myself. Right now I'm looking around Key West for a place to stay, and I'll probably end up living in something pretty small as well, and that's just fine by me (preferable, even!).

I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, and forget that sort of thing if you have a kid. But for mid 20 singles looking to get a dose of NY, there's a lot more expensive options out there.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:57 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My biggest problem with her living situation (and to each his own, really, if she's happy, then she's happy) is that she's not paying $700 a month to live there.

-She's paying $700 a month to rent her apartment.
-She's paying some unknown amount of money a month to rent a studio space elsewhere, presumably because her apartment doesn't have enough space for her to feel comfortable working on projects.
-She's paying to eat out for almost every single meal she eats, since she has no kitchen.

So her per-month cost--for living in a 90 square foot space--is actually much, much higher than $700 (which is already so gobsmackingly high it makes me feel nauseated). I wonder if she could live in somewhere a little bigger (in NYC) for a little more in rent, but since she'd be able to drop the expense of the studio space and be able to prepare a few meals at home every now and then, actually pay less per month overall.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would live in thats apartment.

I would have sex somewhere else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway these conversations always go the same way cause sooner or later all NYC conversation turns to real estate.

This is one if the main reasons I don't want to live in NYC. These real estate conversations, and many of the others I have experienced people having there, seem so competitive. So much striving, it tires me out.
posted by mai at 11:28 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand here in Chicago the conversation inevitably turns to crime, corruption, or why we hate hipsters and those subjects can get pretty tiresome too.
posted by mai at 11:29 AM on April 2, 2011


I have the best apartment cause I live in it.
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My biggest problem with her living situation (and to each his own, really, if she's happy, then she's happy) is that she's not paying $700 a month to live there.

-She's paying $700 a month to rent her apartment.
-She's paying some unknown amount of money a month to rent a studio space elsewhere, presumably because her apartment doesn't have enough space for her to feel comfortable working on projects.
-She's paying to eat out for almost every single meal she eats, since she has no kitchen.

So her per-month cost--for living in a 90 square foot space--is actually much, much higher than $700 (which is already so gobsmackingly high it makes me feel nauseated). I wonder if she could live in somewhere a little bigger (in NYC) for a little more in rent, but since she'd be able to drop the expense of the studio space and be able to prepare a few meals at home every now and then, actually pay less per month overall.


$8 a square foot for Manhattan sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I think commercial space goes for about 10x that.

Your objections sound like positives to me. I'd love to be able to not HAVE to cook. I'd love to be able to afford a second space to work creatively in.

The allure of not having to sit in traffic is good. The allure of not having to sit on a train or a bus is AWESOME. I could deal with the low level claustrophobia of that apartment if it meant I didn't ever have to deal with the shrieking terror that is being in the NYC subway during a rain storm.
posted by gjc at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, speaking as someone who grew up in Manhattan, and has lived in Brooklyn for almost a decade, the whole "cross a bridge" argument is kinda specious. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that's considerably more expensive than, say, the Upper East Side, which has gotten relatively cheap for new rentals. I live here because my friends are here, and because I can walk down my street on a Saturday night without wanting to punch all the people drunkenly screaming their way down the block.

Besides, there aren't going to be a whole lot of $700 studios outside of Staten Island and maybe the Bronx.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:19 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did this in my 20's. Then I moved out of my mother's house.
posted by SPrintF at 12:23 PM on April 2, 2011


Where does she clean her dishes or wash vegetables or do any kind of food prep? I know that there's a little sink in the bathroom but that just seems a bit icky to me.
She probably eats out for most of her meals like a lot of people in Manhattan. Although I did live in a tiny microstudio for grad student housing and I confess I did chop vegetables in the bathroom...though did it matter since it wasn't like I had dinner parties there?
posted by melissam at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2011


1. Maybe she doesn't have/want sex.

Or she dates people with better apartments. I know people who do that...they rent glorified closets and then their sig other has a better apartment they spend most of the time at.
posted by melissam at 1:26 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


AM GONNA BE THAT OTHER PERSON: i live in a 2B/1b RENT-STABILIZED apt in stuyvesant town, which is on the north-east edge of the east village and has it's own park and collection of playgrounds. our rent? less than $2,000.

you're welcome :)
posted by liza at 2:20 PM on April 2, 2011


She seems quite happy with her choice of how to live, and digging her funny niche, so to speak.

She didn't seem quite happy to me at all. She seemed like she was trying a little too hard to put a happy face on apologetic rationalizations.
posted by desuetude at 3:32 PM on April 2, 2011


I agree that she could be doing way more to use that space efficiently. For one, I'd stick a lower (but still overhead) sleeping loft at the window end.

But in a broader sense, whether that mini-place were in Manhattan or Kansas City, there's something very appealing about living in the least space necessary. Maybe because it's spring, and I'm about to do the semi-annual purge of all that is unused and taking up space chez Fellini, and maybe because I have that weird lifelong Germanic compulsion to put everything in a drawer or cabinet and alphabetize my socks and constantly find a cleaner, more logical, less cluttered configuration and traffic pattern.

I have way more space than one human and 14 mammals technically require, but it's configured in such a ridiculous, inefficient, Rube Goldberglike manner that I'm actually adding on another room this summer. All I really need is to make my 7.5 x 13 foot bedroom 10 or 12 x 13 instead, but it cannot be done.

So a little part of me looks at that video wistfully and daydreams about how much excess baggage I could lose and what fun I could have every day finding a way to reclaim a few more inches of space in a tiny cubbyhole like that one.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:47 PM on April 2, 2011


I grew up in Indio, California (best known as the city where Coachella Fest happens) and everything about New York is fascinating to me.
Although I really don't like big cities (I'm fairly tired of crowded Los Angeles), I've always felt curious about NYC (in part because of how many movies have been shot there).
There's always a big debate, it seems, about NYC - one crowd loathing and ridiculing the whole idea of NYC, talking about how much better X or Y place is to live, and another crowd that can not imagine being anywhere else (that sometimes ridicules X or Y place and inserts how NYC does this or that better).

What I'm wondering, and I'd love if some of you could answer this, is what would be a good way for a first time visitor to NYC to see and do? What's a good way to give NYC a shot without being super turned off and hating it without having seen some of it's best qualities?

I'm not a fan of concrete and I like seeing stars at night, so this may, by default, make me allergic to NYC. But someday I'd like to give it a shot and I think this is a good thread to ask this question although I guess it'd just be better to ask this in the Ask section.
posted by fantodstic at 3:58 PM on April 2, 2011


This is Manhattan. Having sex horizontally is for B&T people (boring and tiresome, amirite?).

Like thinkpiece (hi!), I live right off of Riverside Park. Sure, I'm way up in Harlem, but it's still a nice neighborhood. I fit in here better than I would on the U[W/E]S. I'm near Sugar Hill, home of the "sweet life" for Blacks during the Harlem Renaissance, so there's history and nice architecture (personal history, too—my dad and uncle grew up about 5 blocks from where I'm typing this). The noise, believe it or not, isn't that bad (I'm several floors up, which probably helps). I'm paying more than this woman, but I have 4-5× the space. I'm paying less than almost all of my friends in Brooklyn (one who's paying less just got notice of a $300! rent spike). I looked in Brooklyn and Queens, barely, but I knew I wanted to be in Manhattan. And on the west side. My grandmother is nearby in Washington Heights (and if I wasn't before, I'm now favorite grandson #1 because I see her several times a month, and you can't put a price on grandma hugs!), and being on the West Side means I'm more convenient to the PATH or the bridges, which means I can reach most of my family in NJ pretty quickly (and by bicycle if necessary!). It really is where I want to be. Sure, if I hit the lottery, I'd seriously consider something way downtown, like West Village because I hang out there a lot. But here in the real world, I'm damn lucky to be living where I am. Most of my neighbors are friendly, just really nice people. I really want to volunteer in my neighborhood, and I hate volunteering. I've had something like 6 addresses in the past five years (3 different states); this actually almost finally feels like home, even though I've only been here for a few months.

So hate, complain, suck on sour grapes, whatever you need to. People have their reasons; their reasons are not yours. You can differ all you want, but you can't fault someone for finding what works and what makes them happy. And I give my friends in Brooklyn shit all the time, but that's just teasing. Every day in this city is a gift, no matter your hood.
posted by Eideteker at 4:04 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It looks like a fun little apt. It would be fun for a few years, but then I'd want to live somewhere prettier and cheaper eventually. Or if I were rich, buy it and just have it as a place to stay when visiting NYC.
posted by anniecat at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2011


So hate, complain, suck on sour grapes, whatever you need to. People have their reasons; their reasons are not yours. You can differ all you want, but you can't fault someone for finding what works and what makes them happy.

This in part answers my question. There are all sorts of reasons why people want to live there.
Saying that everyone lives there for the same reason is just the same as saying that everyone who doesn't like NYC doesn't for the same reason.

I guess I just have to go there one day and find out...
posted by fantodstic at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2011


Obligatory
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, but people also used to pay lots of money for Beanie Babies.

Dude, people have been paying a lot of money to live in Manhattan since John Jacob Astor was in short pants.
posted by Diablevert at 4:38 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Moving from one Brooklyn or Staten Island neighborhood to another was fine, but unless you had children to think about, even the homeless saw it as a step down to leave Manhattan...The apartments might be bigger and cheaper in other places, but one could never count on their old circle of friends making the long trip to attend a birthday party.

I don't know that that's as true, now. Sedaris was writing mid-1990s; by the early 2000s, the hipness center was beginning to shift out of the Village and LES into Brooklyn. Most everybody I know who lives in NYC lives in Brooklyn, and you're as likely to head out of an evening there as in the city. I find the "I must live in Manhattan or I'm not really in New York" is more a fixation of recent transplants.
posted by Diablevert at 4:50 PM on April 2, 2011


I love me a cosy little living nook but there is no way I'm giving up my 87,120,000 square feet of (mostly outdoors) living space in rural Australia for any apartment in Manhattan.
posted by Kerasia at 5:39 PM on April 2, 2011


nd being on the West Side means I'm more convenient to the PATH or the bridges WHELK.
posted by The Whelk at 5:42 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


no way I'm giving up my 87,120,000 square feet of (mostly outdoors) living space in rural Australia for any apartment in Manhattan.

Yeah, there isn't even space to swing a wombat in that apartment, let alone play quokka soccer.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:58 PM on April 2, 2011


ofthestraight nailed it right at the beginning of the thread.

These are ludicrous prices to pay to live an urban lifestyle, but people pay them because our country has so thoroughly gutted the rest of our cities that New York remains one of few places where most people can live that way, i.e. walking most places and rarely using a car.

I live an urbane lifestyle in a wonderful city just two hours south of New York, but the concessions made here to suburban people and people living here with a suburban mindset are galling. Parking lots and parking garages and expressways and drive-throughs abound and fuck up the delicate streetscape everywhere. And yet the city still clings to life, with lots of great, beautiful neighborhoods separated by vast tracts of devastated wasteland and knots of highway onramps, and the rent remains cheap because most people look past it in the shadow of Manhattan or are afraid of poor black people (New Yorkers I'm looking at you!) or just don't realize just how great it is to walk from your apartment to a nice cafe and watch the world go by.

We need to change this.
posted by deafmute at 9:07 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in a 200 square feet mini cabin in somebody's backyard. I actually find the amount of space to be roughly ideal. The only thing I miss is a toilet and sink.
posted by aesacus at 9:17 PM on April 2, 2011


Yeah, there isn't even space to swing a wombat in that apartment, let alone play quokka soccer"

You could if it was a baby wombat on a very small swing.
posted by Kerasia at 10:21 PM on April 2, 2011


or are afraid of poor black people (New Yorkers I'm looking at you!)

But not looking at the New Yorkers who are poor, or black, or both, right? Who's stereotyping who now?

For what it's worth, in 2000, New York City had more self-identifying black individuals than Philadelphia had residents. By about, oh, 500,000 people.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:29 AM on April 3, 2011


or are afraid of poor black people (New Yorkers I'm looking at you!)

What does this even mean? This notion that Manhattan is the SATC-mapped geography of UES, Soho, Tribeca, West Village, Chelsea is just wrong and only reveals someone who doesn't really get the city, like, at all. I mean, have you ever commuted here by subway or bus? Or walked Broadway from uptown to down? Or shopped in a supermarket that isn't precious or twee? I mean, come on! One of the very best things about living here is that no one owns the sidewalks, ok?
posted by thinkpiece at 5:41 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm rocking about 110 sq ft (including bathroom, but without enough height for a loft bed) in Ireland for €575 (about $820) including heat but not electricity. I don't want to be folding out my bed every night forever, but right now, I'm within a short walk of school and - in the opposite direction - the whole city, I can cover the place with my dissertation notes without having to deal with anyone else, and it's really well-maintained with huge windows.

It's weird bringing people back to somewhere so small, as it has ended up looking like the inside of my brain. More intimate than going into a teenager's bedroom.

Her storage system looks ridiculous, and the narrow space being cut in half by the deep shelves and desk makes me really sad. If you spend most of your time at your desk (and I do too), maybe it gets the nice spot by the window?
posted by carbide at 5:46 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Why do you have to be THAT GUY?

It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it, and remember, perspective.
posted by dbiedny at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2011


you can't put a price on grandma hugs!

THE HELL I CAN'T.

Twenty dollars, same as in town.
posted by grubi at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


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