After initially commuting nearly two hours from Washington Heights in Manhattan to the K to 12 school where she teaches in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Valerie Love found a theft near her class in November 2020. For $1,450 , she rented a studio on the ground floor. in a townhouse in Clinton Hill, a neighborhood “on my vision board,” she said. The family who owned the house had fled town for a second home, she said.
As the pandemic dragged on and the family showed no signs of returning, they began to not just settle in, but revel in: Ms Love bought a custom velor sofa to fit the flat of Clinton Hill and sets of good food for some day entertaining. (She arrived in 2019 in New York from Atlanta without her own furniture, filling her shared spaces with IKEA or using pieces from roommates.)
When the landlords returned in December 2021 and Ms Love had to look for new accommodation, she was upset by the hectic real estate landscape: she was deprived of living alone near her place of work. In areas where she could afford a spot on her own, there was almost no inventory.
She ended up in Midwood, Brooklyn, in an apartment she shares with a roommate, paying $900 for her share. Her custom couch is now stored in a hallway, covered to protect it from the roommate’s cat; the beautiful crockery remains unpacked in a wheeled suitcase. She doesn’t need it either, but can’t bear to part with it, Ms Love told Memories of a Lost Paradise.
“I realized one of the pillars of living in New York: if you can get housing in New York, that’s how you know you’re successful in New York,” Ms. Love said. “It gave me confidence that I was accomplished and that I was just going to go up from there.”
She added: “And now I wonder: have I regressed?”
When it comes to choosing between leaving New York or enduring roommates, many still choose cohabitation — even if that means labeling milk in the fridge and going after hair that clogs the drain, this weather.