Welcome to My First Apartment! Whether it's your first studio, a four-bedroom deep in the city shared with a handful of roommates, or even an entire house (lucky you!), there's something special about moving into the first place that's truly your own. In this series, we'll showcase actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and beyond—asking them to revisit that oh-so-sweet nostalgia of newly-found freedom.
While you might know Hannah Simone best as Cece Parekh, the bad-ass, hilarious, not-really-Loft-mate on New Girl—or even the three-cat owner of @havecatzwilltravel—the actress has been keeping busy since the long-running show ended this spring. Currently, she's starring in Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale campaign and is teaming up with O-Cedar, the household cleaning company, to celebrate what she calls "the most under-appreciated relationship in America": roommates. Together, the two are urging roommates to download a free roommate agreement that deals with the mundane tasks no one wants to talk about, like whether or not it is a shoes-off household or how frequently the fridge is going to be cleaned out. ("I really wish I had been clever enough to come up with it at the time," Simone says.)
More than qualified in the communal living space, we couldn't think of anyone better to kick off My First Apartment. Read on as Simone travels back to the early aughts in Toronto to look back on her first apartment.
My First Apartment: Hannah Simone
Neighborhood: "The Gay-borhood" at Church and Wellesley. There's nothing I hate more in the entire world than a commute and [this neighborhood] was within walking distance of Ryerson [where I went to grad school]. It truly was the safest place for a single girl to live. I walked down the street and no one would look at me, talk to me, or was remotely interested—I loved it!
How you paid your rent: I worked, my brother worked—so that's how we paid our rent... like GROWN-UPS!
Time frame: 2003-2007? (Could have been until 2008).
Why you decided to live there: I'd seen a two-bedroom that was actually just a one-bedroom with a divider. There was mold growing in the bathroom. The agent said "Don't worry, we'll give you a fresh coat of paint."
Thankfully, I stumbled on the apartment I ended up living in: It was mold-free, the bedrooms had doors on them, it had a balcony. I thought, "This is heaven!"
Roommates?: I was looking for a one-bedroom apartment [while I went to grad school at Ryerson]. I was like it's time for me to be a grown-up, get out of that dorm life, and not have roommates—but then my brother Zack, who had just graduated high school was going to a university in Toronto, called and said "I want to live with you." It was nice. I didn't have to check his references—I could just call my mom (she vouched for him!). He was a really great roommate. He came out of a boarding school where they were taught to clean up after themselves and be respectful. I came out of the dorm life, so I was a mess.
What you did on the first night: The first night we got there, we didn't have any furniture (the moving truck was coming the next morning.) We had two camping chairs and the TV. We plugged it in, put it on the floor, set up the two chairs, ordered a pizza, and watched The Green Mile—which isn't really an uplifting film. We both spent the first night crying in camping chairs in our empty apartment.
I remember sitting in those camping chairs and thinking "I guess we really like each other." I knew we loved each other, but it was cool to realize we really liked each other.
When we left Toronto, I moved to L.A. He got the apartment next door. We just have done that my entire life. We've just stayed really close. That's rare and it's awesome!
What was on the walls: It was my first time renting an apartment, so I was terrified that I wouldn't get my security deposit back (I didn't really understand how all of that worked). I hung nothing on my wall! I was so scared that if I put a hole in the wall that [my landlord] would be like, "That's $1,000." So I painted the walls… My brother went to art college and he got creative with painters tape. There were a lot of interesting designs on the walls that he had taped off and then painted all sorts of different colors.
Craziest thing that happened in the apartment: I had two crazy cats (One of whom is Frank who is blind and has asthma. I rescued him at the pet shop on the corner. I thought that would be his first and last night at that apartment—but he just powered through! 15 years later, he's still living the life in Los Angeles). Because our apartment was so close to my university and to his university, it just became Union Station. Everybody would come over and hang out. We would throw a lot of parties, too: Crazy cats with 60+ people dressed up on Halloween is not a good combination. A few people ended up with cats attacking them!
Neighborhood haunt: Zelda's, a bar right at the corner of Church and Wellesley. It was the big drag queen bar. They made the best gummy bear martinis in the world (where you take a martini, but instead of olives on a stick, you put gummy bears).
Worst thing about the apartment: In retrospect: nothing, really! The fire alarm went off once a month. When you're living on a high floor and you have to put your cats into carrier cases and go down a bunch of floors…
I loved that apartment. I loved every moment of it. It's the "Goldilocks" of all apartments: It was just right.
Why you moved out: I took a one-way trip to Los Angeles!
Did you get your security deposit back? I did!!! I did. (I was very excited.)
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.