We’re Back, Part 1: A Long Haul to No Home

When we last checked in, we were in the sunny climes of Florida, spending time with family and friends while we talked and prayed at length about moving back to Manhattan. In the middle of February, we flew up to NYC to attend our friends’ wedding. During the trip, we stayed with friends on the Upper East Side and researched what the rents were like in the neighborhood compared to when we moved away in 2010.

I’d like this blog to not turn into BuzzFeed, but this GIF sums it up nicely:

Rents have been exploding. One friend told us their monthly rent has increased by $1,000 over the last few years. We found out that one of our old apartments was actually coming available. It was $300 more per month than when we lived there. Our dream of returning to the Upper East Side took a serious nuking. 

We returned to Florida with a renewed longing for the city, but also more confused about where to live. We were drawn to our old neighborhood, but the odds of it working financially were slimmer than ever. On a lark, we looked up the rents in our most recent area of the Bronx. The value was too great to ignore. We could pay at least $800 less for rent in the Bronx, which is especially meaningful to a freelancer like myself who never knows how much he’ll make every month.

All winter long, Cool Mum and I went back and forth over when we should go back to NYC. Possibilities included the end of March, the beginning of April, the end of April, the beginning of May and so on. After our mid-February trip to the city, we could no longer wait. A week later, we packed everything we’d brought to Florida into our little Japanese family car (as in the car was Japanese, not our family) and drove from Orlando, FL to New York City in one straight shot.

Highlights of that last sentence include:

  • everything: clothes, books, guitars, keyboards, camera, laptop, male offspring
  • little: the car has less than 50 cubic feet of space
  • drove: our whole family and aforementioned possessions started the car and operated the vehicle in a mostly forward direction
  • Orlando, FL to New York City: a stretch up the East Coast spanning over 1,000 miles
  • straight shot: without stopping to sleep. SEE ALSO: insane, ill-advised.

Thanks to the grace of God and a certain Cars app on the iPad, the Cool Bros were quite chill during the trip. Only the last stretch on the New Jersey Turnpike was tortuous, because:

  1. You can see the Manhattan skyline but still be a good traffic-snarled 30 minutes from getting there.
  2. The Cool Bros said at different times they had to go to the bathroom, but when we finally got off the highway and found suitable spots, they backed off their claims. “I don’t have to.”

The obligatory family stop at Cracker Barrel. The last half of the drive was fueled by hash brown casserole.

Twenty-five hours after we backed out of the still-warm Florida driveway around 8:30pm, we arrived in the 30-degree night in NYC. We only had to iron out the minor detail of where we would sleep every night for the foreseeable future. Call me high maintenance, but I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than indoors for my family.

That first night, we stayed at our old place with our roommate and her friend who’s subletting from us. So as not to impose on anyone for too long, we planned to bounce among our friends’ homes until we could nail down a place to live.

The next morning, we looked at a potential apartment in the neighborhood. It was being renovated and in shambles, but we could tell the space and layout were going to work for us. However, the broker told us that the place wouldn’t be ready to move into until March 15. Oof. It was only February 28.

At least Cool Newbie won't have to ask us to turn the light on for him.

Were we really going to crash at friends’ houses – with our two kids – for two weeks? The apartment, while not breathtaking, was too good to pass up, especially since we did NOT want to hunt for days for the mythical perfect apartment. We made our choice, and then we packed up our stuff and drove to the West Village to spend the night with a friend.

We applied for the apartment the next day, hopeful but not entirely sure that we’d be approved. That night was a slumber party on the Upper East Side with our friends who have three kids. The next night, Saturday, we stayed with other friends on the UES.

After church on Sunday, we left NYC to stay with my parents’ longtime friends in Eastern Long Island. On Tuesday, we found out we were approved, and, finally, the compass felt like it was finding true north again. We had some direction, something finite to look forward to. We’ve sorely missed that feeling.

(I really don’t want to break this up into two parts, but I’m almost at 900 words, and you have things to do. I promise it won’t take another month to post again. But I’m crossing my fingers, because you never know…)

2 notes on “We’re Back, Part 1: A Long Haul to No Home

  1. Peter Kim

    We’re glad you’re back! As you know, we’re facing the same struggles with increases in rent. Rents in Long Island City and Astoria have also skyrocketed from even just 3-4 years ago.

    Hope you are enjoying your new apartment!


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