Welcome back to What I Rent, our weekly series that takes a look at the reality of renting around the world.
This time around we’re hanging out with Gbemi in Brooklyn, New York.
Gbemi is originally from Nigeria, and moved to New York six and half years ago.
Six months ago, she moved into her current apartment, a one-bed with a balcony.
She works in finance but also explores her interests as a mixed media artist and interior designer – as well as doing plenty of renter-friendly DIY projects.
Here’s what Gbemi rents.
Hi, Gbemi! How much do you pay to live here?
I pay $2,060 monthly in rent.
My electric bills have been super high since I moved in, I was averaging $300 a month, so I set up an appointment to have a Con Edison tech take a look and we discovered I was being billed for a bigger apartment in the building.
This issue was only resolved recently and I’ve been assured that I’d be reimbursed as necessary, so I’m excited to see what my next bill looks like.
My gas bill is about $18 a month, insurance is $35, and I spend $25 to use the laundry in building.
And what do you get for what you pay?
I live in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. There are three rooms in total – the bathroom, my bedroom, and the kitchen and living room merge in an open-floor concept.
Do you feel like you have a good deal?
I think I do! For $2,060 a month, by New York standards. I get to live in a relatively new, modern, rent-stabilized apartment, with South-facing windows, central air, and private outdoor space. I think that’s a gem in the city.
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In addition to that, I get an elevator building with a rooftop where I can enjoy Manhattan and Brooklyn views.
We also have access to other amenities like Verizon Fios, garage parking, a laundry room, bike storage, and a garbage room on every floor.
I think $2,060 a month with the assurance of rent stabilization is a pretty good deal for what I get.
Whereabouts is your home based? What do you think of the area?
My apartment is located in Brooklyn, in an area called Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Over the last few years, I have lived in two other apartments nearby; my last apartment is actually across the street. I love living here.
I enjoy this part of Brooklyn because it feels like home to me. It’s pretty diverse and all of my needs are pretty accessible. The gym is a short walk away, so is my bank, I’ve got a great variety of grocery options, cafes, clinics, plant shops, and restaurants.
And Prospect Park is easily accessible to me. It is the second-largest public park in Brooklyn and home to one of New York’s many attractions, such as Smorgasburg (an open-air food market, it’s amazing!).
How did you find the apartment?
The Streeteasy app – it’s one of the most popular ways to find apartments in the city.
How have you made this property feel like home?
As a designer and serial DIYer, I have gone the extra mile to make this place feel like home.
I’ve made lots of changes to the apartment. Really, what you see is a home that I’ve curated to my own personal taste.
Some of the biggest changes I’ve made can be seen in my bathroom, which I painted black, installed shelves, and changed the hardware and fixtures.
Other prominent examples around my home are the light fixtures in the bedroom and living room, the storage nook behind my bedroom door, the artworks I made for the bedroom and living room, the floating shelves in the kitchen, the motorized blinds that are oh-so practical, the entryway mirror which conceals the circuit breaker box, and lots of DIY furniture hacks like the painted shoe cabinet under the entryway mirror.
I could go on and on.
Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?
Ha! I haven’t found it difficult at all because it is quite impossible for me to not decorate a space I live in. I can’t even imagine that!
However, every single change I have made to this space is renter-friendly and can be undone, and that is how I get away with decorating as a renter.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
I do wish my living room and bedroom were a little bigger but this is New York, I can’t really complain.
I put a lot of thought into the spatial planning of my home when I was mapping out the design, especially because I occasionally work from home and I knew I had to fit in a home office as well.
Are there any issues with the apartment?
The only problem I’ve had to deal with so far is the issue with my electric bill. I have a responsive Super and everything else has worked pretty great.
Do you have plans to move again any time soon?
I am really enjoying this space and I have no immediate plans to move.
It was important to me that I find a place I could call home for a few years, and I plan to live here until it no longer serves me.
And what about owning a place? Is that something you want?
I do want to own a place someday! I’d love to be able to make lasting, permanent changes to a home without having to worry about the landlord. I have dreams about gut renovations!
Shall we take a look around?
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.
Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.
If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected] You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.
Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.
We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).
This article contains placements with affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links on these placements.
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