Buying an apartment in New York is a weirdly adult thing to do, and like all signs you're getting older, it crept up on us entirely unexpectedly. It began as innocent open-house visits, which, as you may or may not know, are the secret weekend pastime of New Yorkers who quite enjoy judging how other people live and need something to do after brunch.
Quick recap: Over the past couple of years, my partner Jake and I have gone from making out at his sister’s wedding (summer of July 2016, San Francisco) to me pretending not to live in his oversize studio in Chelsea during the workweek (early 2017, high ceilings, no closet space, three convenient blocks from the Who What Wear offices), to Jake moving into my apartment in Williamsburg (March 2018, even higher ceilings, a spare bedroom, and an amazing deal on rent thanks to my wonderful friend).
Perhaps this experience of buying a home is so weird because it really seems like about two weeks ago I was 25 and sharing a sunny little flat in Sydney with my girlfriends, having avocado toast for dinner most nights while we watched Friends for the hundredth time, and I suppose part of me thought we might all do that again one day? But apparently now I’m 32 and live in New York with a dude and a puppy we’re accidentally adopting, and I suppose that brings us up to date.
So here’s the real estate-y stuff that explains how a couple of crazy kids like us can afford to buy a home in one of the most expensive cities in the world: It turns out that right now is not a completely horrible time to buy a place in New York (and I say that completely aware that compared to most of the rest of the country, it’s still a total joke). Firstly, we're very lucky, and secondly, it's somewhat helped by how much we're already accustomed to paying as rent. After indulging in his love of making spreadsheets and using online mortgage calculators, Jake realized we could buy somewhere decidedly not crap, where we could have a weird little dog (and high ceilings) and if we quit the gym, we'd come out just about even.
I did some additional research (by way of the three most recent episodes of Million Dollar Listing) and confirmed that New York apartment prices are currently pretty friendly because there’s “a lot of inventory,” which is just real estate agent speak for there being a lot of properties on the market right now, therefore they sit around a bit longer rather than being snapped up, which means sellers give in as the months go by and eventually drop their prices, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call buyer’s market.
So that's the first reason we can afford to buy. The second reason is, having decided the ratio of cafés per capita in our neighborhood is ideal, we decided to look exclusively in Williamsburg. It turns out that the impending doom of the L train (the main subway line from Manhattan to this part of Brooklyn, which will be temporarily shutting down next year) is not only in the top five topics nervously discussed by residents as they wait in line for their flat whites, but it’s also sending chills through the local property market.
This is the double whammy that resulted in us throwing caution to the wind a few weeks back, when we made an offer on a one-bedroom apartment in an old converted bourbon distillery on the waterfront. (Could that be more painfully Williamsburg? I think not, and seriously, it's so cool I’m not even sorry.) So now, as I write this, we find ourselves about six days away from closing, and I find myself with a boyfriend who is also technically my landlord.
Jake and I were already on a surefire trajectory toward definitive adulthood, best illustrated by the fact we do The New York Times crossword in bed every morning like a couple of South Beach retirees. We’ve lost interest in all alcohol consumption that’s not a glass of red wine somewhere you can actually hear people talk, and now (perhaps most tellingly) we enjoy nothing more than passionate discussions about Things We Need for the House.
It needs to be said: Owning an property means you can finally put all the holes in the walls you like(!), and it triggers a deep desire to invest in all sorts of things that never made sense to invest in when you were renting. What follows is our (or perhaps my) list of what I consider Excellent Grown-Up Things Worth Investing In that I'm entirely convinced we need for the new condo, including chic chairs, smart storage, and some very grown-up appliances worth investing in.
As an adult, I feel that I should now adorn our bedroom with what’s known as an occasional chair. (As in, occasionally I will hang up all my clothes before going to bed at night instead of just throwing them over this chair.)
I feel like this is the kind of sensible, grown-up purchase my mum would be proud of me for making. Investing in an electric dryer with a steam function just makes good sense for me. As someone who occasionally “invests” too much on clothes, it’s silly not to care for them as well as one could, and also, we have a mortgage now, so I don’t think I get to do dry-cleaning anymore.
Taking the time to research online which are the award-winning appliances is clearly Jake’s territory, so props to him for making yet another spreadsheet and identifying LG Laundry as the clear winner. (Also, he’s the one who uses all the towels and wanted a king-size bed, so he got to find a mega-giant-huge machine that can fit all our king-size linens.)
Speaking of our new king-size bedding! White linen bedding isn’t the most practical thing, but it definitely is the best thing.
Our new apartment doesn’t have a real entryway, but everyone knows you need a place to throw your keys, headphones, sunglasses, and such. These leather wall pockets are perfect for dumping all those things that otherwise make you late when you go searching for them in the mornings. These also go on the list of things of things we can now joyously hammer into the walls with a callous disregard for how many holes we’re making.
Fun fact: Storing your knives in that big old wooden knife block is basically designed to ensure you ruin their sharpness (assuming you’re like me and never knew you’re meant to put them in upside down with the sharp edge facing upward). Anyway, a cool-looking magnetic strip is a way better option, plus it saves on counter space that can be better used for a SodaStream or something else fun.
When Jake researched sofas (another spreadsheet), he found a website that ranks some of the most popular makes and models on nappability, and he approved this sectional accordingly. When it arrived, he promptly fell asleep on it, which he assures me demonstrates its value.
As a person who really, really loves big beautiful vintage rugs, having a home we’re not going to move from anytime soon is permission to finally find one that fits our layout perfectly. (Also, if you’re not following along on Bridget from Nouvelle Nomad’s buying trips to Morocco, you’re doing Instagram wrong.)
Owning an apartment means having the glorious freedom to change fixtures out at will. I’ll admit that what began as an absolute necessity (if you’re a fan of big wet messes, I recommend attempting to bathe a miniature goldendoodle with only a waterfall showerhead) has turned into somewhat of an indulgence, as it turns out Jake hates shiny chrome things with a passion. Also, in case you’re curious as to how many hours of online searching it takes to find a inoffensive matte-black adjustable showerhead on a slide bar, the answer is: π x.
The matte-black obsession continues, and this little guy is proof that stylish apartment upgrades don’t have to cost a fortune or involve a plumber. Jake and I take turns making pour-over coffee every morning and bringing it back to bed, and a gooseneck kettle is definitely one of our best little investments.
So we got Ruby, the accidentally adopted puppy, a super legit place to sleep with the reasoning that it would help teach her to “go to bed.” One might assume that whether we get her a fancy bed or just throw a towel on the ground won’t affect her training, but Ruby’s being adopted from the Upper East Side, so I surmise that this probably won’t hurt. The fact that we can zip off the cover and throw it in the wash on the Allergiene™setting makes me think this color is an okay idea? Stay tuned; will report back.
(Also, here's a bonus picture of Ruby!)
Like me, Jake has an insatiable appetite for greenery, and so far, plants have simply accumulated on all possible windowsills and mantles and tabletops without much thought beyond “LOOK, ANOTHER COOL PLANT WE MUST HAVE!” Now it’s finally time to bid adieu to all those not-quite-right-but-it-was-the-best-they-had pots and play around with some fancy raised planters.
These floating shelves are my current favorite way to display art and plants, as inspired by our Airbnb in Paris. (Also, did I mention that being able to mount things on the wall is awesome?)
I’ve wanted to have something by Christiane in my home for years and years. It’s near impossible, however, as you can only buy her art from her sporadic shows, and they generally sell out before they even open. Therefore I’m stuck admiring the work of this very cool, very Copenhagen artist from afar, but this story just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention that an enormous something (anything!) by her is my most grown-up dream.
Our dining room table is coming with us, but our dining room chairs are not, partly because the rattan situation proved to be as impractical as Jake warned me it would be, and partly because I think one side of the table is going to have to go right up against the wall to make the room work. This beautiful leather number from The Citizenry is super versatile beyond just acting as a dining bench; it could also live at the end of our bed or in an entranceway or serve as extra seating anywhere we need it, and I’m making lots of arguments here because I’m not sure a $500 bench is going to fly with Jake, but I’m going to try.
Correct, still making lists of things I can drill into the walls anywhere I like. These cute little rattan hooks are going to be what my handbags live on. Please let me know any other suggestions of things I can hang on them (tea towels, hats?) because I really like them and I’d like to buy lots in a further experiment of how much rattan Jake can tolerate.
I can’t actually explain to you how long I’ve wanted to hang bell lamps over a kitchen counter (or down a long hallway like my sister did at her house in New Zealand, but, alas, our little apartment most definitely does not have a long hallway—or any hallway at all, really). We do, however, have really high concrete ceilings and exposed beams, so this Scandi-meets-industrial style is perfecto.
Jake’s number one thing he loves to tell people about is that IKEA has really, really good plants that are really, really cheap. Jake’s least favorite thing is going to IKEA. The below image is the convergence of these conflicting emotions.
At our current apartment, we have a really big floor mirror that was slightly propped behind a dresser. I may have accidentally knocked it a bit when trying to reach the power outlet where I like to plug in my hair straightener, and this may have resulted in the total cracking of said mirror (although we still use it because I'm not quite sure how to throw it out?). Anyway, huge floor mirrors are super cool and I refuse not to have one; therefore one of my favorite things about the new apartment is the big bedroom wall where I can put this guy far, far away from any of the power outlets.
I really love this incredible throw, much like I love everything from The Citizenry, but I’m not necessarily super trustworthy with lovely white things. I assume finally having a decent washing machine with lots of fancy gentle cycles means I get to experiment with being a grown-up person who owns blankets like this one.