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The Importance of Home in the City

You know how the song goes, “I’ll be home for Christmas…”. Christmas is such a nostalgic time of year when the idea of “home” comes into focus. The creeping winter months necessitate you stay in your home a bit more. People journey thousands of miles to be home with loved ones and family members. This month’s writing on New York City will be short and sweet and focus on home, or more specifically the importance of your home in the city. 

The  idea of home is something I didn’t realize would be so important when I first moved. I had dreams and plans that home would be four walls I slept in at night when I wasn’t spending every waking moment exploring. After moving, it quickly dawned on me that my budget and my energy weren’t up to that task. 

See, when you visit New York, you usually come for a few days to a week and you’re prepared to exhaust yourself walking 20k+ steps a day and spending all the money you’ve saved up for your trip on lavish dinners and the coolest bars. It took two weeks to realize very quickly that was just not going to be the case. Your energy can’t handle that level of the city day in and day out at a sustainable life pace and the budget certainly does not allow for the same bougie experiences I had when I visited now that I pay for the city year round. 

And let me be upfront and honest that this is all okay. I’m not bummed about it in the slightest. However, the one thing that it has shown me, is how important home can be in the city. 

First off, home has been a quiet retreat from the business of the city. As much as I can loathe the three flights up the stairs each time I come home, the moment I step in and close the door the world quiets back down again. We count ourselves extremely fortunate that our apartment is in the back of the building and instead of overlooking the street, it looks over the backyards and gardens of the buildings around us. Except for the occasional loud ambulance that comes within ear shot, the noise of the city is minimal. Being on the fourth floor also means we have no people above us making noise, and bonus, we have a skylight in our bathroom. 

Second off, home has been a cozy embrace at the end of a long day. After a day of hustling and bustling all around the city, on and off packed subways and all the germs that come with it, home is a sacred, clean and cozy space. We have a rule (that most NYC dwellers also have) that shoes get removed the moment you walk in the door to avoid tracking everything you’ve stepped in during the day into the apartment. I often enjoy a quick shower if I’ve been out and about all day before I put my clean “indoor clothes” on and cozy up on our couch or my bed. I’m not a super germaphobe or anything either, it’s just the fact that you almost always feel dirty in the city and I cherish how clean and safe our home feels. 

Third, home is a place of cheap dining and entertainment. As I mentioned, budgets don’t always allow for checking out a new restaurant or bar every night, so instead my roommate and I have gotten pretty into our home routine. We both cook a lot. In fact, one of our favorite activities in the warmer months is cooking dinner at home to take with us to the park. That way you get a fun NYC experience without the costly dinner bill. I’ve become a pro at making my tea and coffee at home, versus paying the $5 daily for something from Starbucks (okay MOST days, some days you just need that cold brew). We are almost always up for a movie night and I keep cookie dough stocked in the freezer as a fun movie treat at all times (because microwave popcorn doesn’t work if you don't have a microwave, ya girl needs some stovetop popcorn). 

Lastly, home is, simply put, my happy place. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love being out in the city. However, ever since COVID, I’ve been a lot happier at home than I used to be. I have my own little morning and night time routines that ground me and bring me so much joy and health. I was a bit worried about moving from my beautiful town home in Carp to a small, more old school apartment, but it’s honestly been perfect. Some of my favorite moments of everyday life at home so far are waking up and opening my blinds to see the tree leaves turning color, or watching the first few snow flurries fall while I’m cozied up at my desk starting work in the morning, climbing out onto my fire escape when I need a bit of mid afternoon sun, or being  cozied up in bed watching TV or movies. 

I think too, what has made such a difference, is I have so much less stuff in New York. When I moved I gave away probably close to 70% of my stuff. I could only pack and carry up so much stuff while moving (I ended up going with two checked suitcases and shipping three boxes). Now, while that’s been frustrating looking in my closet some days, in other ways it’s been so freeing. I have more than enough space (and even still so much extra room than I anticipated) for my items and I know right where everything is. I love that in our little home, life feels so manageable with less stuff and less space. 

I think one of my favorite things about living in the city right now is the fact that I have my own little, New York City, apartment to call mine, which makes the many hours spent (and more to come as winter arrives) just as meaningful as my time outside of it. Every time I leave the city it baffles me to fly thousands of miles away and think that all my stuff is now in a 400 square feet Upper East Side walk-up, like that is so cool! 

As we close out, just a note, home is a place to enjoy and invest in. This holiday season I encourage you, as we enter into the winter months and will be more housebound, do one thing that will make your home more cozier or livable for you. It could be an organization project, or buying art that makes you happy for that blank wall or just a good clean out before winter. Home is so important and it’s more than okay to make it a place you enjoy, that you can truly dwell in and thrive within. 

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