I moved home during the shutdown but missed NYC. Luckily my old apartment was still for rent
Inside Stories

I moved home during the shutdown but missed NYC. Luckily my old apartment was still for rent

Austin Havens-Bowen
By Austin Havens-Bowen  |
October 28, 2020 - 12:30PM

"It feels really refreshing to be back in New York City, especially in the West Village. It's so lively," a New Yorker named Raul Carvalho says.


Raul Carvalho, a 25 year old who works in financial services, was living in the West Village with two roommates when Covid-19 hit NYC. He decided to go home to Columbus, Ohio, until things went back to normal. But he missed the energy of the city. The three decided to come back—and were able to return to their original apartment as if they had never left. Here’s his story.

My roommates and I lived in our apartment for 16 months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York City. The apartment is great, it’s a two bedroom but we flex it into three bedrooms, and we really like the building. It’s located in the West Village near The Whitney, the roof deck is one of the best that I’ve seen and the management company has been good to us.

Back in early March, Covid-19 started to escalate pretty fast. So once the city shut down, and we were all working from home, my roommates and I decided to go back to our respective hometowns. With so much uncertainty, it seemed safer to get out of Manhattan. 

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I headed to my parent’s place in Columbus, Ohio. I’m an only child and it was good to spend quality time with my parents. I probably hadn’t spent so much time with them since high school.

My roommates and I originally planned to renew our lease so we kept the apartment and continued to pay rent because we thought we’d be back after Memorial Day. But once May arrived, the city was still shutdown. So we found an affordable storage company, returned to the city to put our stuff in storage and headed back home. 

I enjoyed spending the summer in Ohio with my family and high school friends (and saving money). Being back home is always nostalgic—but that feeling only lasts for so long. As someone who has lived in NYC since college, I started to want my freedom back after six months. 

Once we saw that the city was reopening, my roommates and I decided to move back. We found a lot of good deals on apartments, like two months free but we couldn’t settle on a place. Then I checked out the website for TF Cornerstone, the management company of our former apartment, and found that our apartment was still empty.

I called the leasing agent with an offer and we were able to get the apartment back. In September, we signed a one-year lease with two months free. Our monthly rent is the same as before, but with the concession, our net rent is a bit lower.

One of my roommates has a serious girlfriend and decided to move in with her instead of moving back in with us. Coincidentally, one of my high school friends who lived two blocks from us in the West Village was also returning to NYC from Ohio and needed a place to live. So, he took our roommate’s spot. My former roommate and his girlfriend are moving into an apartment in our building—just a couple of floors up. The timing worked out well for all of us.

I talk to a lot of the building staff, and they were happy to see us return. We set up desks and monitors in our bedrooms to work from home (although I’m back in the office some days). It’s been really nice having the roof deck to hang out with friends. The only downside to our apartment is that it’s not close to a subway station, but I don’t take the subway much these days, so it doesn’t really matter. 

It feels really refreshing to be back in New York City, especially in the West Village. It's so lively. I heard Trump called NYC a ghost town in the last presidential debate, but I think it’s anything but that. 

I’ve been doing a lot of outdoor dining since coming back. The village, especially West Fourth Street, reminds me of New Orleans these days. Restaurants have really nice outdoor dining setups, and everyone is walking around with their to-go cocktails. Some of my favorite places to visit are Extra Virgin, San Tropez, and Wogies. I’m aging out of wanting to spend so much time in crowded bars, so I’m enjoying spending time with smaller groups of friends.

For anybody who left New York City and is unsure if they should return, in my opinion, the city is as good as it's ever been. Lock down a great apartment while the market is in your favor, come back, and enjoy NYC. Nothing is ever going to kill New York.


Austin Havens-Bowen

Austin Havens-Bowen


Austin Havens-Bowen is a writer and reporter. He previously covered local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. He rents a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria with his boyfriend and their two cats.

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