On my 24th birthday I got a tattoo of Brooklyn over my heart with a small house icon over Casa Levy. Dad then joked that I should also get a small “X” in every spot throughout Brooklyn in which I’ve lived. If that were true, then I’d end up spending a ton of money on tattoo ink, which I clearly can’t afford, considering how much I already spend on broker fees, security deposits, Uhaul vans and movers.
Yes, it’s time to move onto my eighth apartment in eight years as I continue my (not always voluntary) nomadic journey across Brooklyn. Sometimes the move is a result of choosing a bad apartment, a bad roommate, a bad neighborhood, bad landlords or simply a case of grass-is-greener envy.
So, as I pack those boxes, I thought it’d be nice to reflect back on my apartment sojourn throughout this county of Kings . . .
1: 3 bedroom in Sunset Park, 2005
Only four months here. It was a small 3rd floor walkup, but it was cheap! When I moved there, I thought I could bike through Greenwood Cemetery to get back to my hometown ‘hood of Ditmas Park. Nope, no bikes allowed in Greenwood. And my nocturnal, punk-rock, vampirish bartender of a roommate creeped me out.
2: Loft in Bushwick, 2005-2006
All the cool kids have lofts in Bushwick, right? My brother Matt lived there for 6 years, and he had such wacky, fun neighbors! Well, I paid too much per month for this loft, nobody in the building talked, and you could hear delivery trucks rumbling past our windows starting at 3am. Plus, another weird roommate. This one played the theramin…
3: Basement duplex in Crown Heights 2006-2008
Tons of space!! I tried not to care that most of it was underground with low ceilings (for a 6’5″ dude, this is no laughing matter) and ceiling pipes that would clang mercilessly at all hours. In the end it was, yet again, a problem roommate. This one had a dog who did her doggie duty on floor-pads that the roommate wouldn’t clean, for weeks on end…
4. 2 bedroom in Bed-Stuy 2008-2009
At long last… the first apartment I was HAPPY WITH! A sweet 2br, 3rd floor walk up on a nice block in a sometimes lovely neighborhood. And yes, this roommate was a delightful friend named Lola who taught me a little bit about how to live with a member of the opposite sex which meant CLEANING UP AFTER MYSELF. Unfortunately, after 1 year, she moved on and I didn’t find a roommate in time, which meant I had to move out in a record-breaking 31 hours.
5. Roach-infested studio in Crown Heights 2009-2010
Need I say more?
6. 1 bedroom in Bed-Stuy 2010-2011
Only 2 blocks away from the 2br I enjoyed with Lola and my first truly decent apartment by myself. A little too drafty, yes but even moreso: The two block difference from my last place in Bed-Stuy made all the difference in the neighborhood’s charm. At 28, I was getting a little old to live on grimy, broken-down blocks.
7. 2 bedroom in North Park Slope, 2011-2012
I’m currently writing this in my half-packed apartment that I share with my wonderful girlfriend and our dog Betty. The neighborhood is delightful, the apartment is considerably spacious and the price is right, but… big surprise! Our landlords want us out, most likely to slap a coat of paint on the walls and re-rent it at a pumped-up rate. No matter. In two days we move on to…
8. 1 bedroom in South Park Slope
It’s spacious, it’s new and clean, it’s got a GREAT view… and I’m moving with my partner, my friend and the woman I love. And our pooch. (Which means annoying dog deposits are now ALSO a part of my renting life.) I tend to think that the last two moves have been a significant upgrade as I inch toward 30. Will this one last? I sure as hell hope so. And if it doesn’t? Hey, at least I have practice!
By Gideon Levy