The view of the Manhattan skyline is a promise: the promise of luxury and unprecedented comfort, of state-of-the-art technology. Whoever creates such crazy and at the same time insanely beautiful towers made of steel and glass, what conveniences will be for them Have thought about interior design? One thinks. Maybe you have photos of the Trump family in your head, Donald, Melania and little Barron, sitting in their gilded living room at dinner in Trump Tower. Not that you could – or wanted to – afford anything comparable, the idea is rather that New York is a good place to live.
This image starts to crack as you move away from JFK Airport. Option one: the subway. While local public transport is the pride of city leaders in other metropolises – ultra-modern, streamlined trains in which the stops are announced by well-modulated computer voices in five languages - one realizes relatively quickly in New York that the retaining rings are not there for decoration. The wagons from the seventies (if you go after the hard shell seats in unattractive colors) rumble over the rails – until Manhattan you are as well shaken as a margarita. And changing at some stations is like a Super Mario game: up, straight on, down two flights of stairs, error, up one floor again. Maybe ask someone after all?
Most tourists prefer to get into a taxi after the long flight anyway. There, however, the view is a disappointment: the small row houses along the highway towards Manhattan are about as far away from the Trump’s living room as the president is from the people he claims to be fighting for. And those are the architectural success stories. In many places the outskirts of New York offer a picture of desolation: never finished buildings, broken windows that were poorly covered with chipboard, and garbage, so much garbage. In places it looks like it has rained empty beverage cans and plastic packaging from the sky.
But it is only a brief glimpse, after about forty minutes the taxi drives out of the Queens-Midtown tunnel – and there it is again, the world one expected. The next reality check is not too long in coming, because everyone has to go to the toilet at some point. In the best case, it is clean, if a bit strange: There is more water in the bowl than in some home aquariums and when you pull it off you may feel reminded of those horror stories in which people are sucked in by hotel pool pumps. In other words, if the cartoon fish Nemo had been washed down in an American toilet instead of the sink, the film would probably not have been approved for children.
Mercy death for unwelcome pets
While we’re on the subject of animals, unwelcome pets are a reality in New York. At cockroaches, i.e. cockroaches, the exterminator, which many homeowners send over to their tenants once a month, helps in case of doubt. With larger animals you sometimes have to do it yourself. A colleague told me that in his kitchen mice regularly get stuck on sticky traps, which are actually intended for smaller vermin. The first time, his wife and children insisted that a vet should be called – meanwhile, his family quietly rely on him to bring the mouse to death.
But back to the subject of sanitary facilities. In the worst case, toilets do not only come with loose toilet seats – there is also a risk of scalding when you wash your hands afterwards because you have only turned on one of the two taps carelessly. Adjusting faucets optimally in New York can be very time consuming. Time-consuming in the sense of: If you are a tourist, don’t even try, you will find yourself resigned to cold water. Even people who live here sometimes need months in a new apartment to immediately produce a non-hazardous temperature when showering in the morning. And yes, it is quite normal for the shower jet to have the strength of a light spring shower.
For everyone who wants to get an idea for themselves: The standard of living in affordable New York hotels is no better than in most private apartments (especially when it comes to sanitary facilities) – why not book the authentic experience right away? Many New Yorkers offer overnight guests a room or a couch. Do not be disappointed if the landlord does not have a welcome dinner ready or immediately offers himself as a tour guide: For most of them this is a business – they simply need a subsidy for rent. On the other hand, with a bit of luck you have the chance to get to one of New York’s legendary roof terraces.
For architecture fans: There are few cities in the United States with as many incredible buildings as New York. In a few years, the tallest skyscraper in the world should be back here – in the shape of an arch. If you want to have someone explain the city to you by then, you can do so: For example, the “Guiding Architects” network offers guided tours by architects and urban planners. More information here.
For garden lovers: Very few New Yorkers have the luxury of their own piece of green (even children’s playgrounds are concreted here). If you just want to lie down on the grass and look at the sky, you can do so in one of the public parks – or on the terrace of the hotel “The William Vale” in Williamsburg. Access is (still) free, as is the incredible view of the Manhattan skyline. 111 N 12th Street, corner of Wythe Avenue, more information here.
The high-tech New York is a myth, at least when it comes to living. Much was born out of necessity here. Because the limited space has to be optimally used, the windows cannot be opened inwards but upwards – if they can be opened and have not been irreparably warped for decades. Although that is a luxury problem again: In this city, rooms in shared apartments are also offered without a window. Daylight access is optional.
A friend of mine last lived in a basement, not a basement or basement, but in a real basement: complete with heating pipes on the ceiling and his landlord’s clutter on the shelves. For $ 1,700 a month.
You don’t want to get any closer to your fellow human beings
Out of all the anger over so much audacity, you’d want to kick the wall – if you didn’t run the risk of getting your foot stuck. Apart from the fact that such a violent breakthrough into the neighboring apartment would probably be expensive: You don’t like your fellow human beings yet come closer. The thin walls allow you to take part in phone calls and, well, other leisure activities of the neighbors. Pressing a pillow on your own ear only helps to a limited extent in the case of nocturnal pleasure, because rectangles cut from foam are also sold under the product description “pillows” in New York. From a size of 90 by 200 centimeters, these are also referred to as “mattresses”.
Those who stay here longer develop a whole new sense of gratitude when it comes to living. And discover new promises for yourself. For example, the relative quality promise of a large Swedish furniture chain. You know what you’re getting.