Saturday, December 17, 2011

Country Rat

A few days ago, I walked passed our corner bodega to run an errand with Colette in the Bjorn, and a cute, old, seemingly homeless black man standing out front asked jokingly, if that was his baby. He then commented on how big she has gotten. He was friendly and harmless and I laughed.  I walked away thinking about how much I love the neighborhood we live in.  I love that there are swanky bars and coffee shops and yet it’s still really diverse, and chock full of shitty salons and dollar stores with names like Kinky Crowns and G.O. Hussey, respectively.  Everyday, everywhere I look there’s more swank and less shit.

Our Apartment Building
Jeff and I live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.  It’s just north of Prospect Park and adjacent to Park Slope (where Miranda moved to in Sex and the City). We moved here from Williamsburg, Brooklyn almost four years ago.  Unlike our previous stomping grounds, which I wasn’t in love with, our current neighborhood and apartment turned me from a country mouse to a city rat (but I still hate rats).
I’ve been thinking more and more about apartments and neighborhoods because we have to move out by April 1st so that our unit can be sold. When we first got the news a few months ago via e-mail from our landlord, the apartment owner whom lives in Switzerland, I cried.  Moving sucks and everyone knows it.  Plus, our apartment has plenty of natural light, a dishwasher, great closet and storage space, washer and dryer in the basement, reasonable rent and two nicely sized bedrooms. Additionally, it’s a co-op that’s well maintained, safe and friendly.

We have the opportunity to buy the apartment, but it’s at the very high end of our price range and we don’t want to be trapped.  As much as we love renting it, we don’t want to own it and here’s why:
1. There is no washer/dryer in unit
2. It’s a 3rd floor walk-up
3. It’s a small co-op with lots of restrictions…i.e. no dogs, no long-term sub-lets (which is why we need to move)
4. Too long of a walk to trains
5. We can hear the neighbors above us…they have three kids
6. It’s not a fixer-upper
7. There is no balcony or yard
8. No parking…although we don’t have a car, we might at some point
9. We will soon outgrow it
10. There is a low-income apartment two-doors down…harmless, yet loud, weed-smokers hang out on their stoop ALL-THE-TIME. 

When Jeff got the news that we have to move out he feared I would make him move to the ‘burbs, which I’ve been hanging over his head since I moved to the city in 2005.  I pretend like I’m doing him a favor by living here, but truthfully, each passing year, Brooklyn feels more and more like home to me.  With that being said, eventually we will end up in the suburbs.  I think West Hartford, CT our hometown would be ideal.

All things I love: Cole, Brooklyn, Christmas
My parents, longtime West Hartford residents, are constantly on the lookout for crappy, underpriced properties to fix up and flip. All of those HGTV shows about flipping properties make it seem easy and glamorous, which it’s not at all. My parents put a huge amount of time, effort and talent into turning a profit on the properties they scoop up. A few days ago my parents looked at a 4-bedroom colonial style house on a secluded, dead-end street in a very nice part of town.  To entice me, my Dad sent me picture texts of deer in the woodsy front yard and an antiqued front door.  The old Ashley would have liked it. But after living in the city my values have changed.

I want people as neighbors, not deer.  I want a crowded park, not woods next door. I want a densely packed street, not a dead-end without sidewalks.  I like living in a compact space, close to people, restaurants, grocery stores.  I love that we don’t own a car, nor need to.   If and when we move the ‘burbs, I want to keep as much of our city-living style intact as possible.

So, as always, my parents will remain on the hunt for a house worth flipping.  Who knows, maybe they’ll flip it to us when the time comes. But for right now, Colette, Jeff and I are happy where we are now and I bet we’ll be happy at our next apartment too. 

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