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Farm to City: I am the Stair Master

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When searching for an apartment, many New Yorkers (and soon-to-be New Yorkers) are wary of walk-ups. I honestly don't understand this because for the last five months, I have been living on the fourth floor of a walk-up building with almost no complaints.

Moving in wasn’t much of a struggle, but I think it would have been difficult if a) I didn’t have three other people helping me, and b) I had more than four suitcases. As it was, I was an easy project on move-in day.

Since then, I've had to come to terms with only a few lifestyle changes.

Whenever I need to restock my shelves in a big way, I always order from a delivery service like Peapod or FreshDirect.  I just buzz them into the building and they make the trek upstairs.

When I only need a handful of items, I’ll grab them from a corner store and take my own over-the-shoulder tote bags. Those ubiquitous free plastic grocery bags are fine from store to car and car to house back home, but they are a pain to carry a few blocks and up the stairs. I can fit more into a tote bag, and the canvas resists any breaks, unlike the plastic bags.

Laundry is the biggest bane of my existence. I wait until my hamper is full, then I make the journey down to the basement laundry room.

On the way back up, I have to tackle five flights of stairs and I STILL huff and puff up the last flight. A half hour later it’s back down and up again, an hour later it’s another round trip, and one more round trip an hour after that completes my usual two loads of laundry.

I have made it my goal to power through each trip and I actively regulate my breathing to make the trips easier. Yes, heart rate and breathing are conscious thoughts when living in a walk-up. If you avoid exercise, I would advise you to steer clear.

I can imagine that it would be much easier to just drop off your duds at the local laundromat on the way to work and pick them up later. I might have looked more into that if the guy I am subletting from hadn't offered to pay for my laundry card. My roommate and I both do our laundry about once a week on his dime, so that makes the extra exercise worth it for us.

And just to set the record straight, no, I have not lost any weight or experienced any significant muscle toning in my five months of using the stairs. Yes, I am disappointed and a little upset.

My roommate has also not complained about living on the fourth floor, but she is an avid exercise nut who leaves in the early morning to start her day at the gym. She also takes bike rides every now again, hauling her bike down and back up each time instead of opting for the communal bike area in the basement.

I really haven't noticed a drastic change in my lifestyle when it comes to my fourth floor apartment. If I just need, say, ice cream for a get-together, I don't find it a big deal to pop out and back. I don't dread the stairs as someone with young children might.

As for my friends, they aren’t regulars to my apartment anyway because of its dollhouse size, but when they do pop in for a visit, they usually need to take a breather at the top. I spend most of my time out or over at their apartments: As mentioned in my previous posts, my cubby kitchen isn't exactly ripe for entertaining and my lack of a television (gasp!) usually seals the deal to hang out someplace else.

All in all, stairs are certainly not the devil. They may annoy you but they will not kill you--and they are a great real estate option to keep the costs down. And hey, maybe YOU'LL have some luck toning your glutes.


Emmalie Vance is a New York newbie who grew up on a hay farm in western New York. In Farm to City, she chronicles her real estate adventures here in the big city.

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