It’s the height of the pandemic, and I’m looking for an apartment for the first time in 17 years. Some things never change: Finding a place in Lower Manhattan is hard if you’re not fabulously wealthy.
I have just seen a 150-square-foot studio on West Fourth Street for $2,000 a month, and am told that I could save space by hanging my winter coat in the building’s stairwell. “It’d probably be safe there,” the agent reassures me.
He then takes me to a “duplex” around the corner, a ground-floor cell with a menacingly steep spiral staircase that empties into a windowless basement. “$2,300,” he tells me. “Better snap it up. Won’t last.”
I love my sunny Greenwich Village apartment, but Covid has gotten in the way: My theater and teaching work have dried up, my lease is expiring, and the landlord is raising my rent while prices plummet throughout the city. The thought of moving during a pandemic is daunting, and the likelihood of my friends risking infection to help me haul furniture down four flights of stairs is low. On the plus side, for the first time since the Clinton administration, I may be able to afford a decent apartment without leaving the comforts of Lower Manhattan.
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