Rental Rookie

Goodbye, Rental Rookie: Moving day and lessons of starting anew

By Michelle Castillo  | May 11, 2011 - 8:02AM

This is the final installment of Rental Rookie, Michelle Castillo's twice-monthly column chronicling her first year as a renter in NYC. If you're new to the NYC rental scene and want to share your experiences here, drop us a line.

Moving day is especially poignant when you’re leaving your first New York apartment. It’s where your initial memories of this city were created; long after you’ve left, it will house the many learning experiences that you’ll never forget. 

I say this in retrospect, standing inside my new apartment in Ditmas Park, where I was reorganizing all my knick-knacks in a new location and recognizing anew that I should have done a better job weeding out my stuff before I moved.

Although I sorted through my belongings while packing, so many random pieces of paper and generally useless items decided to come along for the ride. Why did I keep a plastic four-leaf clover? How did that broken pair of scissors manage to make its way into a box? Maybe I needed the perspective of unpacking in a pristine space to see that I brought along so much useless crap.

A good rule of thumb, I now know, is to keep duct tape, scissors and super glue in a box that is easy to get to. Because I couldn’t find my good scissors, I had to dig around for the one box I knew had something to cut tape, my cutlery. Because I couldn’t find my super glue, some broken bits of objects are forever lost, leaving me to turn one side of a vase toward the wall to hide the damage from view.

I decided to keep a few of the larger cardboard moving boxes in my closet in case I need to use them again—a very real possibility considering that I live in New York, where moving apartments can become a fine art. And if I never moved again, well, I could always use them as trashcans or for temporary storage. Folded up, they didn’t take that much space and just knowing that I wouldn’t have to scramble for containers again was a good feeling.  I took special care to break down any boxes and other materials I decided to throw away. This was my first night in a new apartment, and I didn’t want to be known as the neighbor who was always sloppy with her trash.

Because I knew that my surroundings played an important part of where I decided to live, I took a walk around my neighborhood at night with my boyfriend to get a feel for temperament of the place. Ditmas Park wasn’t as busy as the Upper West Side at night. Still, I found well-lit paths that I could take when I had to come home late at night. Rather than spend time asking for restaurant recommendations from my neighbors, as I did with my first apartment, I walked around and quickly discovered a cute little Italian place around the corner on the way to the subway. Just a short 15 minutes walk away, there was a bustling area with good restaurants, coffee shops and a flower-shop-by-day, bar-by-night business. 

I quickly settled in—far faster than I did in my first apartment. And I was more organized than before. There were no emergency trips to buy a broom or mop; I had enough food to make a couple meals. I had everything I needed and then some.  More important, I finally felt that I was into an NYC routine and one step closer to calling myself a real New Yorker.

Now, if I could only figure out where I put that TV remote.

Michelle Castillo moved from Los Angeles to Manhattan to attend Columbia University's Journalism School.  

She is now the managing editor of CBS News's What's Trending 



You can also f


ind her work in TIME, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and the Hollywood Reporter.













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