Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
A painful odyssey.
Moving is a soul-crushing endeavor. Even if you’re the kind of magically organized unicorn who did get around to color-coding and labeling boxes instead of just shoving your stuff in garbage bags, you still have to contend with disassembling your stuff, lugging it, and putting it back together.
Moving sucks. But finding a new apartment is even harder.
Whether you like charming exposed brick and vestigial fireplaces or sleek stainless steel, it’s hard to find an apartment that meets all of the criteria on your checklist. Sometimes, it feels like it’s hard to find one that meets any of those criteria at all. So you mope, complain (loudly, and often), then keep on looking until you find your dream apartment—or just a passable place to collapse after a long day at the office.
Maybe “cozy” just means that the place is cute and petite! Or woodsy, like a cabin that always smells like damp pine and is stocked with birding equipment.
By the way, it will be possible to find a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance of an express train, right? For less than $2,000? Without a broker fee? Wait—where are you going? Come back here!
I shouldn’t be scared off by the dangling wires, scalding hot geyser spewing from the radiator, or gaping vortex where the sink should be, should I? I mean, those will definitely be fixed by the time I move in, right?
Oh, I need to bring copies of my bank statements and give you my HBO Go password? No problem! Happy to share.
This is ridiculous! Two of the places I’ve seen today were so small that there were shower stalls in the kitchen—which only had a hot plate.
The bathroom was just a tiny closet with a doll-sized toilet. I want to shower and poop in the same room—is that too much to ask?
And the bedroom didn’t have any windows! The guy said I could just “check my phone to see what the weather is like.” Judging by the jagged cracks in the ceiling, if the room starts to flood with putrid water, chances are good that it’s raining.
The broker told us that nine other people had already put in applications. Who are these idiots? Why would they want to live here? (And, ok, fine, where do I send my application?)
Dear Craigslist gods: If you find me an apartment that’s not in a dank basement or sixth-floor walk-up, I promise that I won’t ignore mildew creeping along the bathtub grout. I won’t let my hair collect in the drain and just pull the shower curtain closed really fast. I pledge to dust—and with a microfiber cloth (okay, at least a paper towel) instead of my hand. I will separate my recyclables like an adult instead of mixing them in with slimy takeout containers.
I promise not to complain that my neighbors will invariably have one of the following: an indoor trampoline; a miserable, phlegmy dog; or a grating penchant for blasting early Usher albums.
I will never find a new apartment. I’m just going to go Ikea and move from room to room, shoveling meatballs in my mouth and softly crying into a GÄSPA pillowcase until someone kicks me out. (At which point I’ll buy at least six bags of meatballs for the road.)
It could be worse. Ikea could have been out of meatballs.