I hate using the â€œonly in New Yorkâ€ clichÃ©, but few other cities have as many awkward spaces that pass as apartmentsâ€”converted factories without actual walls, rooms that barely fit a full-sized bed, and rooms without windows or closets. So to find an affordable apartment, you just have to lower your standards. I’ve lived above a bathroom, in a railroad, and in a basement with seven-foot ceilings. I didn’t care when my roommate’s band practiced in the living room, but I flipped my shit when my books started getting abducted onto my roommates’ shelves. It’s easier to put up with roommate bullshit if you’re paying less than $500 a month without having to fight junkies in the hall. But run like hell if your roommates do any of the following.
Your taste in decorations clash
Finding people who share your exact aesthetic vision is difficult, so sometimes you have to deal with a framed cross-stitched clown hanging next to your inflatable moose head. Your roommate’s vaguely racist salt-and-pepper shakers scare off boys you bring home. You ignore the stares from the beady little eyes of the creepy-ass drawings of children with large heads, try to find function for a shelf that looks like its tried to make art deco by vomiting glass and plywoodâ€¦then your roommate takes down your vintage postcards and wads them up on your desk.
Your roommates don’t understand how garbage cans work
Everyone has different standards of cleanliness. I’ve always assumed that oranges and guinea pig shavings should never be stored under a bed, but maybe I’ve developed higher standards than I’ve given myself credit for. If your roommate falls asleep with a crumbled tortilla in her bed, she’ll probably also think the jars of mayo should be stored in a bedroom. Also, avoid roommates who think that food kept in Tupperware has an infinite shelf life. Their French toast stuffed with cream cheese will be in the fridge even after it looks like pond scum and slime mold.
Your roommates never buy toilet paper, and eat of all of your snacks
At first, I didn’t mind being buying most of the toilet paper. Until I woke up one too many mornings to discover the TP was gone and had to use magazine subscription cards, because there were no napkins, paper towels or Kleenex. My roommates would only single rolls of one-ply bullshit. I would’ve kept springing for quilted four-packs if they didn’t start taking the light bulbs out of my desk lamp instead of going to the bodega. Leaving bottles of wine on top of the fridge was my mistake, but then my graham crackers were disappearing at the same rate as Two-Buck Chuck. My roommate promised to replace the crackers. Instead, I hid my Teddy Grahams and light bulbs in a drawer with my Jack Daniels.
Your roommate and your cat go into heat simultaneously
I’m all for fucking up against a door, except when the door is attached to my bedroom and I’m not the one having sex. Getting it on in a railroad apartment is always awkward; I assumed the rule was to try and keep the noise low enough to muffle with headphones. But headphones were no match for my roommate and her boyfriend. I heard their every smack, pant, gasp, moan, and furniture kick five times a day. Part of me thought, â€œAwesome for them.â€ The larger part of me thought, â€œI don’t want to listen to low-budget porn radio while I’m working and sleeping.â€ I tried to seek refuge in the living room, but our cat was back in heat, and I hadn’t been able to get her into The Spay and Neuter Mobile. Kitty spent her time beckoning to tomcats from the window. I tried turning up my headphones again.
Luckily, people are in and out of New York frequently. Craigslist has hundreds of room postings a day, or some random acquaintance you run into at a bar will have a room opening up. Eventually, you’ll find roommates who buy cleaning supplies and their own wine in an apartment that sounds nothing like a National Geographic special about urban mating habits.