Let me tell you about life in New York City in the (almost) four years I’ve been living here.
I have had so much domestic trouble since I moved into my first apartment in 2016. In my first year, I lived in the Residence Hall because as an International student, living in New York City and getting accustomed to being in a new country was too much to handle. Then I applied for the Resident Assistant position at the Residence Hall hoping to get to live on-campus for free. I didn’t get the job and decided that it would be unethical for me to continue living on-campus with all the fees. Every time I think of extraordinary expenses such as housing, I think of my parents. I thought that the most ethical thing for me to do then was to look for off-campus housing. If I found an apartment that was within my price range and cooked all my meals, I will save more money than if I were to continue to live on-campus without being a Resident Assistant.
That started my whole New York City apartment adventures. In my first apartment, I lived in a sixth-floor walk-up. Why I agreed to live there in the first place was probably due to—well, I simply didn’t know any better. I was drawn to the sixth-floor walk-up because it was newly renovated and had a view, which I liked. My room was way smaller than I expected—my eye for spaces wasn’t trained then. I slept in a twin bed. I decided to stick it out because I was going to be in my second year of training and was all right with living a monklike existence for a while.
In less than two months, our newly renovated apartment had bed bugs, and it was one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve had living in New York City. It took about a month for the extermination process to be completed due to poor management and lack of efficiency with the landlord and extermination company. It was also hard for me to get my new roommates to cooperate. After a month, though, the hoopla died down. I lived there for two years. When our lease finally ended in June of 2018, I got the hell out of there. I wanted to move into a bigger space that was already furnished. I had outgrown my tiny room and was hungry for expansion—not just artistically but also in the way I lived.
My second apartment had five bedrooms and one bathroom. I lived solely with women. I fell in love with it because it was a beautifully decorated apartment. My new room was a lot bigger than my old room. It could fit a full-sized bed, a wardrobe, a desk, and it had enough space for me to be able to do some Alexander technique floorwork. The new rent was $66 less per month than my old rent for a bigger space, so I was very happy. I also liked my new roommates because they were a lot more responsible than my old roommates. Also, I was living there as a subletter, so I didn’t have to pay for brokers' fees, application fees, etc. I was happy. I thought I found an apartment that I could live in until I earned enough money to live on my own.
And then, in January 2019, less than seven months after I'd started living in that apartment, the lease-holder received a letter from the management company saying that they would not be renewing her lease at the end of February 2019. We couldn’t believe it. On top of all that, I was midway in my rehearsal process for Mother Courage and Her Children (I was playing Mother Courage), and I was in the middle of tests for a lump on my right breast (which I eventually found out was benign). As I was unable to find a suitable living situation in time, I had to temporarily stay in my uncle’s friend’s spare room at the Lower East Side while I figured out my housing situation. That was the first time I lived in a two-bedroom apartment and experienced how nice it is to be living with only one person in New York City. It’s much calmer and there are less things to worry about.
I’m currently in my fourth apartment in New York City within three years. I have my name on the lease together with my new roommate. It’s a true two-bedroom. I’m living with a woman who works at the prop department of the Public Theater along with two cats and a parakeet. I just moved here at the end of March, and it’s the biggest room I’ve lived in. It’s been good so far. Please wish me luck.
Regina De Vera
Quezon City, Philippines