Dan O’Brien, MBA1 Managing Editor
Like many of you, I came here from someplace else. Before our cubbyhole in the East Village ($2,800/mo), the last place my wife and I called home was a 700 square-foot one-bedroom in LA ($1,600/mo). Oh the space we had… A bedroom with actual walls… Closets for human-sized clothes… A full bath!
More than once, when New York friends came to visit, we’d explain that, “no, we don’t have any other roommates—it’s just the two of us and the dog,” and “yes, this is most definitely a dishwasher.” The tour of our LA apartment took all of 15 seconds, which seemed like nothing, but here in New York, that’d be enough time for 3 tours and a light lunch. Therein lies the rub—everything is relative.
I went to high school in Atlanta, and a few friends of mine still live there. One, at the ripe old age of 29, owns his home and two rental properties. His combined mortgage payments are a shade south of $4,000 per month. To him, my LA apartment would have been a ludicrously expensive mouse hole. Such is the tilt between New York and pretty much everywhere else, save San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong.
I think most people who haven’t lived in New York City entertain a kind of faraway amusement with the idea. From the outside, there’s something vaguely silly and eccentric about the way we’re stacked on top of each other, our brick walkups and glittering high-rises. The idea is crude and dirty, but in a Romantic (capital R), dirt under your fingernails, elbow grease, drunk in public kind of way. The city’s draw is visceral, and even if you don’t want to stay, having been here is a rite of passage – a metropolitan gauntlet of 24-hour, punch-you-in-the-neck culture for sale. It’s a place people want to be despite the living conditions. Weather? Meh. Rent? Oh there will be quite a lot of rent. Space? You will stub your toes as you have never stubbed them before.
Everyone has his theory of New York, a portion of which will be pure fantasy, but undeniably, there’s truth to the idea that unless you’re Bobby Axelrod (pop culture reference!), you’ll probably have to change your life to be here. How? Well, the first bit is physical.
You rethink the way that you physically occupy space in the world. Your stuff does not all fit here. You got rid of half of it before you moved and you still have too much. You must build shelves. Copious shelves. You will store everything vertically instead of horizontally. What does that even mean? Move to New York and find out. After you figure out your storage, you work on your New York State of Mind – as the poet Nas once wrote, “The city never sleeps, full of villains and creeps / That’s where I learned to do my hustle / Had to scuffle with freaks.”
So I’m that guy – not a New Yorker, but a transplant whose idea of New York was equal parts “Friends” and hip-hop. I’ve been in the city for 3 months, so I’m probably on my Season 1 Rachel Green right now, but I’ll tell you what… All that extra space in LA? Didn’t really need it. I kinda like my crappy New York shelves. And the rent? Prof. Galloway said it during LAUNCH this year – there’s more opportunity per square foot in Manhattan than just about anywhere else on earth.
Kids, that junk ain’t cheap.