I am 22 and I own a modest apartment in the Village. I am not an Ecclestone sister, fertilizer heiress or start up sell out. I am a normal 20-something. I don’t own a matching set of dishes, and I’m not entirely sure how to do laundry without ruining something.
Before the purchase, I was shelling out over $2,000 a month for a four flight walk-up, a glorified attic in the not-yet-chic part of Alphabet City. The building was home exclusively to 20-somethings who assumed this is how we should be living. For us, that’s what Manhattan housing is: terrible walk-up apartments in trendy neighborhoods or luxury apartments with three or more roommates.
When it comes to real estate, I have been lucky, much luckier than a 20-something journalist renting shared spaces with roommates has any right to be.
It began when I arrived as a freshman at the University of Chicago and discovered that my dorm was not the depressing low-rise tower with cinderblock walls and shared bathrooms in the hall that I had braced myself for, something designed by an architect who did dorms when he wasn’t designing prisons. Instead, I was greeted by an historic, if down-at-the-heels, former luxury hotel overlooking Lake Michigan. It had a ballroom, a storied history of mobsters and celebrities, and enormous suites that boasted not only living rooms but also full baths, kitchens and dining rooms. All that was missing was a bellhop.
As first loves often do, the dorm/hotel became the archetype of all that I wanted and expected in a home—beautiful and rambling, abundant in history and friends. It was unreasonable to want it, even more so to expect it, but then, I kept on getting what I wanted. Even more perplexing, it was often through Craiglist.