For the better part of my four years here in New York City, I lived in Normandie Court, a luxury building on the Upper East Side (with some elevator problems) in an unrenovated apartment in one of the four 33-floor towers. My rent wasn’t astronomical, so I stayed, with roommates, from December 2011 until February 2015.
It wasn’t until I left my doormen that I realized how much I needed them. Well, perhaps not need —I missed the conveniences that comes with them. My rent dropped $400 when I moved to a walk-up on the Upper West Side — which was one of my main reasons for moving — so I can’t say it wasn't worth it even though I've missed packages and had to rush home to make it to the laundry room in time. But my lifestyle has changed a lot in the two months I’ve lived in my new place. Below, the pros and cons of forgoing the luxury-building life for a walk-up:
THE UPSIDES (besides the cheaper rent, that is)
No fake friendliness
Now, if I have a bad day and just want to head straight to my apartment and collapse, I don’t have to be nice to anyone on my way in. When I lived in my old building, the doormen would hold the door and ask me about my day, and you can’t just yell, “It was crappy and I need some wine!” (Well, you could, but you'd be labeled a crazy person forever.) I'd have to fake a smile and say, “Good, how was yours?” and hope the conversation didn't go any further.
Don’t get me wrong—the doormen at my building were amazing and I miss them very much, but sometimes you just can't deal.
My friends can come straight to my apartment
At Normandie, the doormen had to call up to me every time I had a visitor. It was a whole process, especially if it was busy downstairs. Now I can just buzz them up on my own. The added security was nice, true, but I don’t mind letting people in myself.
The long walk to the post office
You don’t realize how terrible the post office is until you have to schlep a big shoe rack, a jumbo box of garbage bags, and miscellaneous Amazon purchases a week after you move. While I was at work, everything used to be sent to a package room at Normandie, and I could pick up at my leisure. Now I have to walk a few avenues over and a handful of blocks down, wait in line for no less than 20 minutes, and then cart everything back to my place.
It has helped kick my online shopping habit, but it's a pain when someone wants to send me a package. My package room guy was also very friendly and always nice to chat with. Let's just say USPS employees aren’t always so chipper.
Getting locked out is expensive
This hasn’t happened to me yet—knock on wood—but if I lock myself out of the apartment, I have to get my spare keys from my friend, find the super, or call a locksmith. If it’s the latter option, it’s going to cost money, and any of them will have me waiting for a while. My old building had a lock-out key that you could sign out if you forgot yours at the bar or left them hanging by your door in the morning, so I never had to worry about it. Now, I have to triple-check my purse every time I walk out the door.
The laundry situation
I shouldn’t complain about having a laundry room, because it’s a blessing, but it’s only open during work hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It locks at 6 p.m. sharp and we don’t have keys, so everyone ends up doing laundry on the weekends. With only four washers and dryers for a six-floor building—the one next door shares with us, too—it’s a hassle. My old building had 24-hour laundry and a ton of machines for the huge building, plus it was a card system instead of coin-operated, and I miss it.