I’m sitting at our dining table in our tiny apartment in Brooklyn and feeling pretty thankful. I like what I see: natural light pouring through the windows and skylight, house plants looking healthy and green and alive, a new kitchen. I like what I hear: nothing, except for the occasional truck driving down the street. No neighbors walking around upstairs or banging doors or clomping up and down the stairs. I’m getting what I paid for.
Lots of the personal finance blogs out there on the Internet advocate for reducing the cost of your housing to the extent possible. After living in a cheap place my first year of graduate school, I know that that’s not always the best thing. During my first year of grad school, I lived in an apartment in West Philadelphia for $475/month. It was cheap and 20 minutes away from school but still felt a little sketchy at night. About 6 months into the lease, my apartment was robbed while I was asleep in my room. The burglar and I equally freaked out when we saw each other and he ran out. Luckily I was not hurt but my sense of security was shattered. I moved out immediately the next day and ever since then, have been happy to pay more money just to feel safe again.
Dennis and I pay $2375/month for a 500 SF one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope. Sidenote: I’m totally okay with sharing how much I pay in rent with strangers now, after having lived here for over a year. It’s the next question people ask after, “What neighborhood do you live in?” Everyone in NYC suffers from overpriced housing. Anyway, this is a little pricey for the neighborhood. A half-mile to a mile away in either direction, our rent would probably go down by $300ish/month. But, here is what our rent buys us:
- A top floor apartment in a renovated brownstone. This means we get a ton of light and no neighbors stomping around above our heads at all hours of the day.
- A renovated apartment. We have a brand new kitchen and bathroom, thanks to a landlord who actually understands that you need to invest in and update your units as long-term tenants move out.
- An actual hop, skip, and a jump across the street to Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s version of Central Park. Being able to call the park our backyard is amazing. We can take walks, go running, have a picnic…it’s worth the premium because we do in fact use it all the time.
- Space. I refused to look at studios, because I knew I would be living with a med student who would have much later hours than me. I’m also not a fan of having my stove within 5 feet of my bed. So even though our bedroom is tiny, it has 4 walls, a door, and is far away from the stove.
- Access to public transit. This is key in NYC, especially if you have to commute to Manhattan for work like I do. A 10 minute walk in any direction will get me to 6 subway lines, 4 of which are express to Manhattan.
- A neighborhood we can actually run errands in. We have hardware stores, coffee shops, ice cream parlors, and an awesome farmer’s market.
I hope that this post doesn’t come off as sounding braggy, but I really do love my neighborhood and apartment and am really thankful. For the record, Dennis (and I, for about 3 months) lived in a shitty apartment in Brooklyn before we moved to our current place (think slanted floors, non-insulated windows, cracked tile, mold growing in the bathroom, cockroaches, etc.) so we are positive that our money is being well-spent now.