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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.
You can also f
ind her work in TIME, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times,
MSNBC.com and the Hollywood Reporter.