Size/Type: L-Shaped Alcove Studio, approximately 550 sf
Length of Residence: 1 year
I'd been looking for a year before I got my apartment, sight unseen, on east 16th Street, just off of what was then considered Union Square's sketchy side. That year had seen me dog-sitting all over the city for a succession of ailing and handicapped dogs; the last one had asthma and we'd rest on the stoop after his walk while I mustered up the strength to carry him up two flights of stairs. That's how I met the real estate agent who worked out of the first floor. He offered me an apartment. I'd have to take it without looking at it plus he needed first and last and a finder's fee. The rent was ridiculously cheap; I said yes.
What I loved about this home: Everything. I'm not joking. Even if the neighborhood was still in transition and my apartment looked out onto an airshaft, there was the farmer's market, I was two subway stops from work, my rent was ridiculously cheap and my apartment was well-laid out and large enough that I threw a very crowded kegger for over 100 people before I moved out. Plus I had a cute neighbor!
What changed when I moved on to my next home: About a year later, I jumped into a car and drove cross-country to move to Los Angeles. I tried to hold on to that apartment but I lost the lease when my landlord discovered I'd been subletting. Oddly enough, I recently had a chance to visit my old building again. Unfortunately, the landlords haven't kept it up very well; I was told there'd been a really bad rat infestation.
Best bit of advice for people moving into their first home: Don't be in a rush to fill it with furniture. Start with the bare minimum -- a good mattress on a cheap frame, someplace to sit, good music, a basic kitchen box from Ikea — and slowly accumulate things you absolutely love. When my parents packed up that apartment and sent everything to me here in Los Angeles, it arrived in nine boxes, most of it taken up with my six Thonet chairs, thoughtfully broken down by my dad. I know when I move out of my present home, after being here for over a dozen years, it'll definitely take up more than nine boxes. Probably closer to ninety — and that's a conservative estimate!