Gail Ingram has lived in Manhattan since 2007 and has witnessed people thrive or suffer in the City. With an eye on wellness, you might have a better chance to thrive:
Living in Manhattan on a budget is stressful. To achieve longevity in the City, New Yorkers must be proactive in preventing burnout. One way to do this is by choosing an apartment with a feature that provides relaxation.
Being open-minded and using creativity is essential when seeking out a relaxation amenity; it won’t be obvious and you probably won’t know it until you see it. For example, I have an artist friend who saw potential in a clothes closet. He cleared it out, changed the light fixture to a lovely chandelier and uses it as his painting studio. It is cramped but he shuts out all the noise from the City and does what he loves without interruption. As for me, I transformed an ugly 5′ X 6′ tar paper ledge outside my window into an inviting outdoor space. I listen to music and write my blog posts there.
Many bright-eyed newcomers believe they’ll hop over to Central Park for some fresh air and relaxation whenever they feel like it. Unfortunately it’s not possible when feeling sick, working on a deadline, in bad weather, or late at night. A decompression and relaxation space in the home is key. Here are some mental health conscious questions to ask yourself when renting an apartment in Manhattan:
- How many windows are there? Natural light is important. Sunlight = life.
- Southern exposure? Southern facing apartments get more sun longer throughout the day.
- Is the view from the window of another building? Is the sky visible? Is there a tree in sight? I didn’t think this mattered until I lived in a ground floor apartment and couldn’t see the sky.
- Is there roof access? Is it possible to keep a chaise lounge up there? Can you bring your yoga mat up there to stargaze?
- Is the fire escape on the backside of the building? A fire escape is not a deck but if it is in the back of the building you might be able to hang out on it or keep a plant there.
- What about a place inside to stretch/exercise? A quiet place to pray/reflect? A space big enough for a yoga mat or meditation cushion?
- Do you relax in a bath? Especially in the cold winter months, a hot bath can be soothing. Many apartments don’t have them.
- Are you a light sleeper or sensitive to cigarette smoke? Scope out the area at night to make sure your not near a loud restaurant or bar.
Remember, everyone moving to Manhattan has to compromise with something on their apartment wish list, but it isn’t necessary to compromise mental health. The time and effort spent finding the right apartment in New York City is an investment in overall wellness. It is a challenge, but worth the effort if you want to make the City your home.
P.S. I found my apartment on Craigslist and it is $225/month below market value. It is possible to find something special (if you can imagine it) within a tight budget. Keep your mind open!