We'll live in Brooklyn, we thought. That should be affordable. If Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg are too pricey, we'll aim for Park Slope or Cobble Hill or something nice like that, we thought... By the time New York apartment hunting was done with us, we'd be happy to have a roof over our heads at a price we could half afford in any corner of the five boroughs. Mareesa used to joke that we'd sleep under a bridge if we could just get here. From our safe white middle class bubble in Pretoria, we had no idea how close we'd come to eating those words.
It was quite an experience, but I'm so grateful for it. Even if we had five times the money we did, we learnt firsthand - for the first time - what discrimination feels like. As a foreigner with no social security number, realtors and landlords alike look at you like you're about to rob them and skip the country with their hard-earned goods. It sucks. Also, as a married couple, finding a roommate to share with is no easy feat. Understandably. It's a weird setup.
So thank God for Gazino Scott, the super laidback Jamaican brother who took us in with very few questions asked - and gave us a chance to prove that we really can and will pay the rent on time every month, even though we are from Africa & don't have an American sugar daddy. Gazino has since moved out, but our new roommate is just as nice and easy to live with. We try to forget that we used to pay a third of what we pay for our room in Brooklyn than we did for a whole apartment back home. Now we're just glad to have a place to come home to. We live in New York, after all, so who's complaining?
And we really lucked out in terms of location. Although we had all sorts of panicked ideas about where we'd like to stay, the man upstairs had our backs as always. We chose our neighbourhood - Prospect Leffert Gardens - because we had no other options but, had we known what we know now, we could hardly have chosen better. We're just 3 blocks from the Park but, being on the non-Park Slope side of it means prices are super reasonable and our neighbours are way more interesting. We're really close to the Q - arguably the best line for getting into Manhattan - and the 5 runs a few blocks from our house straight to NYFA Battery Park campus. It's a great, green, clean neighbourhood full of families (and all the noise you become accustomed to in Brooklyn - which I presume is much the same for the fancy pants in Manhattan).
Ironically, we're mere blocks from the street in Flatbush that we were initially so freaked out by - you know, the one I joked about and got outed as a racist over. It's true. I come from a white suburban bubble and I was a bit freaked out by the sheer urbanness of geniune Brooklyn. Now my bubble seems embarrassing and extremely limiting and I hope I never get stuck in it again.
It's really great in terms of life experience, and really fun once the privilege bubble bursts. It's so funny how I ever thought I was poor back home. Hilarious. Hopefully I'll never take all the extraordinary opportunities and and options I've been given for granted again.
Anyway - this is home now. Even when we're both earning actual money again, and if we're fortunate enough to still be in New York, we'd like to get our own place, but likely still in Leffert Gardens, cause you can't beat being so close to the magic that is Prospect Park while having so much jerk chicken all around you.
Where we started:
|Used to sleep on an inflatable mattress, now we have a real bed!|
|These days we have furniture & drawers|
Where we are now: