Monday, July 22, 2013

Beer traps for slugs


They came and partied.

And a brief newsflash.

Our new lease has arrived. Brian Elgart has raised our rent from $1,900 per month to $2,500.

That's an extra $600 a month. Last year it went up $200/month.

We need to think seriously about whether our love of the terrace justifies paying this much more to live in a building that is otherwise dirty and unmaintained. We do what others in New York do, cocoon ourselves in a personal space that speaks to and reflects our values and taste, while living in a larger context of ethical and aesthetic anarchy.

But that can get old. 400 square feet for two humans is a challenge, and the leaks were getting to us.

Our plan was always to move on, once my book was written. The book is essentially a tribute to this city that I love, and to the spirit within all of us that makes habitable the uninhabitable, if we only choose to pay attention to the details.

We have made no decision yet, as this is all very new, but we have two months to think.

[Footnote. We moved. To Harlem. We left it all behind. And our apartment stood empty for nine months.]

53 comments:

  1. Brian? Slug? or Thug.

    The book will set you free! :)

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  2. That is a crazy rent to pay for such a small place, I have lived in my apartment 16 years and my rent has doubled, and is expensive for my 500 sq ft, but I am on the Park. If I hear of any good aprtments with either a garden or terrace will post to you

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  3. Halfpintvt says;

    Yikes, that's a 31% increase :(. Might be time to consider a new location.

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  4. Oh, Marie. We have just had the exact same thing happen, down to both of those dollar amounts. But we have 500 sq ft and not an inch of outdoor space.

    Yes, it is time to move on. For us, I don't know where we will go. For you, perhaps it is time to return home?

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  5. Oh you people who live so cramped, I love your blog but could never live in such a place. We live in the country, have 5 acres, so lots of gardening, in a 3 bedroom home, almost 4 times the size of your apt. at a 1/4 of the new price. Have a cold glass of something yummy and contemplate.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous - why anonymous?

      What state are you in?

      I do kind of like having New York on my doorstep :-)

      Delete
  6. Nice slugs, maybe you can bake them in butter and feed them to the "atomic kitty"....could be a new source of protein :-)

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  7. Yikes! I know NYC is expensive, but that seems excessive given the size of your apartment. I'm sure NY is an interesting and fun place to live, but there are other fun places that are more affordable...

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    Replies
    1. Being in the center of the perceived universe has a strange appeal...IT's like that Walker Percy quote, about a place being certified...

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  8. If you don't have to be in NY to earn a living, and assuming the Frenchman has a Canadian passport - consider Victoria or the Gulf Islands. There would probably be all sorts of opportunities for you if you were ever to consider your own restaurant as there is not a single really good place... Very much a Carole King kind of place though - the earth might move under your feet. Great for gardening and sailing and running all year round however.

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    Replies
    1. Yup - we're thinking about everything. And we love that part of the world.

      It does however put us farther from SA, and from the East Coast, which is where Vince's family is.

      Though I would never open a regular restaurant :-) I think. I can't imagine harder work.

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  9. Well, and I have to add...Seattle! Climate similar to Vancouver, great farmer's markets, a bustling downtown and lots of hiking, camping, boating, skiing, etc.

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    Replies
    1. No ticks, very little humidity, heat waves (88 is considered hot) and snow last about a week at the max. Roses will get blackspot and powdery mildew can be a problem. But all in all a great place to live!

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  10. Well, since I can't think of a place that doesn't have ticks (but then I am from the NE, so what do I know about the SW or other parts of the country) I would think that the Pocono's might interest you. Then there is West VA, and western Va, both parts which are very scenic. But the question is, are you looking to put down roots, or is apartment living where you want to be? Apartments can be great with a responsible landlord, who maintains the property. The water heater breaks - call the landlord. The roof is leaking, call the landlord. It's different when you own--although you both appear to be handy with tools, a definite plus. You can go years with only minor issues, if you buy a house in good condition. However if renting is the goal, then, considering your blog comments, a larger city may be where you want to be. Pittsburgh/Philly (born in one, live near the other); DC is interesting; have only traveled through Richmond, not thrilled about the drivers in Atlanta, and the bugs just get too big going south. New Orleans has a certain flavor of its own. I would not suggest the midwest because I have no experience other than in the airports. My boss loves San Diego.
    But all of this depends on where you see yourselves 5-10-15 years out.
    Good luck! (I think that Don Estorbo might want to run bigger caddle, so I wouldn't ask him.)

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    Replies
    1. ...all interesting. Thank you.

      In our hearts we are actually Westerners, I'd say, if we are not New Yorkers. Montana. Wyoming. Washington. Oregon. Cali.

      (I'm waxing lyrical - it is unlikely :-))

      But yes - we have many, many factors to take into consideration.

      Delete
  11. If you don't have to live in NYC, I humbly submit my lovely city, Springfield, Massachusetts. A 2 to 2.5 hr drive to NY, 1.5 hr drive to Boston and beautiful, large inexpensive Victorian homes abound. Springfield is diverse in every way -- racially, ethnically, socioeconomically, and is, to me, a wonderful (and affordable) place to live. Check out http://www.choosespringfieldmass.com for more info.

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  12. We would welcome you with open arms in Vancouver, you know the place :) I do miss New York though and how everything grows so well with he heat and humidity but not the cost of rent on the UWS. Keep us posted

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    Replies
    1. We both love, love, love, Vancouver.

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  13. Let me through my two cents in for Dutchess County. I love NYC. I was raised in Manhattan and lived in Fort Greene, Bklyn for a spell. Also, Washington DC and Northern California. But 20 years ago, for a job, I moved to Pawling NY with my husband. We have a house, a garden an1/2 a acre. I can get to the city by Metro North or car in about 2 hours which is important since everybody else in my family is either in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but thank god, I don't have to do it every day. It's green, quiet with low taxes. I say a rabbit, raccoon and fox this afternoon when I drove into the complex. I walk my dog in my backyard with no leash and when I get in the mood to "accidentally" kill my husband, I'm a five minute drive away from the Appalachian trail for some hiking. Check it out.

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  14. Sorry for some of the grammar and spelling errors. Spell check strikes again. "through" should be "throw" and it should say "1/2 acre of property.

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  15. Portland, Oregon! Foodie paradise - great climate! Really fun city.

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  16. You've got plenty of people giving you advice and you certainly don't need to hear from a stranger but I feel compelled to comment. I was once in a similar situation and I couldn't bear to leave my home. I stayed. But soon realized the situation was sucking not just my finances but my spirit. I felt like a slave to my home. I moved (to another city, less expensive) and although it was at times extremely lonely I soon found my groove and realized I was in a much better place than I would have been had I not moved. Change is good, and even better when you're running to something not away from something.

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  17. $600/month...is...$7,200 a year! How can he get away with that? Is that even legal? Or am I naive?

    I have a fondness for Vermont...gardening and foodie heaven, with an Amtrak line from Montreal to NYC running right through it.

    Keeping you three in my thoughts as you wrangle with this challenge!

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    Replies
    1. The first question everyone asks (in NYC) is, Is it legal.

      You know I have still not seen Vermont?

      ...and, Thank you...

      Delete
  18. Then there's good old Blighty.
    Our weather is becoming tropical - heat wave now in its 3rd or 4th week (too busy enjoying it to count) and a healthy sprinkle of feisty big thunderstorms (that scared my dog last night, I've been up since 4.30am) Fabulous greenery, mountains, valleys, LOTS of coastline, vibrant sleepless cities, drowsy backwater villages, once-upon-a-time history, blah blah blah... Just throwing it into the mix : )

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, jelli, we actually laughed last night at our dilemma and said the one place we can cross off our list is old Blighty.

      One word: weather.

      In all other respects I am a big fan of hedgerows and highlands and small bays and real tea...:-)

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    2. Y'know, the weather is the only thing that makes me want to move from these shores. I NEED sunshine, in quantity, to function at my best. Serious thoughts and plans after the l o n g e s t winter, and then this - hotter than the Med. Just wish it could be guaranteed...

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  19. NYC is hands down my favorite place in the world. My husband and I were both raised there and we lived there as adults for many years. HOWEVER, the quality of life tradeoffs became too great and we moved to Ithaca, NY in the Finger Lakes region. We have about 2 acres and a really nice house for under $200,000, fabulous year-round farmers market, tons of locavore restaurants, great local beer and wine, and Cornell and Ithaca College for some culture. Easy, frequent bus service to NYC, and wonderful photo ops. Think about it...

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    Replies
    1. Finger Lakes - gorgeous. But for now, at least one of us has a job with close ties to NYC...

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  20. Have you ever read Jon Katz? He has a wonderful blog, Bedlam Farm ....he has a farm to rent upstate NY....worth a peek!

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  21. Goodness...that's a lot of slugs...how do they get up there????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inch by inch?

      My guess is with plants from nurseries, probably as eggs. Then they just keep reproducing.

      Delete
  22. Marie,

    I sent Martha Stewart word of your housing dilemma, as you were featured in her mag and I have a teeny tiny acquaintance with her as a former gym mate in Connecticut. I suggested that she might be able to find you a cottage appended to some estate. Seems far out...but hey...You never know!

    I predict that good will find good. Moving is traumatic, but where you live now is only one place in the wide world. And there is a wide world out there ready to receive you.

    Bravo to you for exposing your landlord. I know that that wasn't easy. But it was the right thing to do.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, my goodness. That is very sweet of you, but Martha has bigger concerns. And she is a businesswoman. What's happening to us might be wrong but it is probably not illegal.

      But thank you very much for thinking of us :-)

      Delete
  23. The problem with finding a clean, quiet, safe, and affordable neighborhood in New York City is that it won’t stay that way for long. We've only been back a little over a year, but already we're looking to see where we'll land next. And we love our neighborhood of Kensington/Ditmas Park. We couldn't believe our luck when we landed here, and we'd really love to stay, but if we find ourselves too cramped in our current space once the new baby arrives, or if our rent is raised too much more with our next lease renewal (the owners have actually already gone above the legally-allowed percentage increase with this year's lease), or if Julian can't get into any of the nearby schools when we register him next year, we'll really have no choice but to look elsewhere. The increase in neighborhood rents just in the last year is astounding.

    I love New York, and I'm so glad we moved back here, but I have no idea if we'll be able to stay for the long haul.

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    Replies
    1. Yikes, and we don't even have children. I admire you, Jen.

      So, is your building rent regulated? It's such murky territory.

      Delete
  24. More advice from a food-admiring stranger: I grew up in Bucks County, PA, in New Hope, to be exact. It is incredibly lovely there and they are used to NYC and Philly visitors :) Parts of it are kinda scummy/Jersey Shore, but there are many sleepy little towns with big houses and lots of land. Carversville, in particular, is closest to my ancestral home.

    My husband and I often discuss moving, and the thought of either leaving behind all my plants or digging them up and transplanting them makes me very, very anxious. I've spent so much time and money on my yard and I know every nook and cranny.
    I commiserate with you, but my un-sought advice is to find a cheaper, larger place. I thought my 900-square foot house was small, and I have a big husband too :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the big husbands find it hard...

      Sleepy little towns are tempting :-)

      Delete
  25. My husband's daughter and her wonderful guy live in Brooklyn and I understand their rent was just increased by a substantial amount as well. The lack of space would wear on my every last nerve after spending the past 10+ years here on 5 acres in California. And I also need to see the sky.
    There is San Francisco....a wonderful city and a direct flight to NYC. Imagine growing your crops and garden year round.

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    Replies
    1. We'll probably be sticking to this city if we stick at all - though growing lemons is something I could do out there, yes? One likes lemons.

      Delete
  26. Upstate NY! i join the chorus of those recommending
    Upstate. The Hudson Valley towns are getting a bit pricey but for $2,500/month, you could get a great place in Beacon, full of artsy folk and fellow foodies. Orange County is similarly located but on the west side of the Hudson. You could have LAND, Marie, tillable, arable, fertile land! Western Mass., ditto and still affordable in most towns. Or if you must stay in NYC, what about
    Queens, the Rockaways, Staten Island, Hamilton Heights or Washington Heights? Your landlord's greed is disheartening, not to mention ethically repulsive. Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. ...Land, lots of land under sunny skies above...

      A lovely thought.

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  27. So curious that your rent should go up in the year that your book comes out. I wonder if others in the building have seen a similar rate increase, or whether the landlord is attempting to capitalize on what your branding of the space might bring to you financially...

    As someone who has had to move too many times in the last 15 years (SW Ohio to Pensacola to Atlanta to Detroit to Orlando) and has never really been able to put down roots, I couldn't possibly suggest your next place to call home. It is so very much a personal thing, that sense of home and place and belonging.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, funny that, right?

      Not easy to figure out.

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  28. Have you considered Staten Island? My guy grew up there. He even commuted on the ferry to school every day. I know you can see the ferries from your terrace. It wouldn't be that far away...

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    Replies
    1. I have actually thought about Staten Island - the idea of the water and water traffic appeals to me...

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  29. Thank you - so much - for all your comments, suggestions, insights. There is a great deal of food for thought, here.

    As soon as we know what we are doing, we will let you know.

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  30. I don´t know whether you´ll read this post, but I have just come across your blog and I love what I´ve seen in it...just in case you read it and it´s useful I´d like to share my experience with you.

    Although I´m a Spaniard, I love NYC and I lived there for 9 years and I found myself in a similar situation when I was living in a one bedroom in Manhattan and my rent was increased, so I decided to try somewhere else and I was told about the Ditmars Boulevard area (last stop of the yellow lines N, R or Q, I don´t remember the letters exactly). It was a nice area and a half an hour commute to the 34th St station since I worked across the Empire State Building at the time.
    I was able to find a one bedroom with a nice deck for around 1,000$ at that time. Maybe right now is much more expensive, but if I were you I would take a subway and walk around the area. You will enjoy the beautiful yards and its flowers. I recall I visited the are for the first time and found my apartment in August as well!
    Wishing you the best!

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