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On Saturday I received my lease renewal in the mail. I have lived in my tiny studio going on 6 years. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long. My apartment was supposed to be an “interim” type place. I was going to stay there, get back on my feet and move out.

I live in Jersey City, near Journal Square. The area isn’t bad, or great.

I lived in Jersey City before, near Journal Square but in a different area. So I had somewhat of an idea of the neighborhood. Even though it was 11 years since I was there. Not much has changed. Gentrification has not hit Journal Square…it is slowly coming…slow like how molasses drips. The area is urban, can be dangerous at certain turns, and looks dirty. Journal Square proper has a bunch of stores, inexpensive, cheaply priced stores…No Starbucks for my hood…YET

There is nice collection of drunks and druggies that hang around the Square itself and in the PATH station. Supposedly our new Mayor is going to build up Jersey City and not just focus on the Downtown or Waterfront. I will admit that I am confident that this will happen I just hope it doesn’t happen at the sacrifice of those who have lived here for years, if not generations.

So even though I’m not totally happy here I stay because I’m in a comfort zone…financially.

My rent is RIDICULOUSLY cheap.

After all that I have been through, seen my family go through, after I filed Chapter 7 I made a promise to myself that I would never rent a place that I couldn’t afford with one paycheck AND have some money left over to at least eat.

That my friends, is hard to do these days.

I’m not picky with my apartments. I simply know what I want. I want my cost of rent to be made up of equal parts of what my neighborhood is “worth”, and what the apartment itself “worth”.

Worth being determined by”

-How safe do I feel walking around-daylight and nighttime?

-Is transportation close by?

-What stores and shops are in my neighborhood?

-Who are my neighbors? What type of people live in the building and surrounding buildings?

-How big is the apartment?

-Does the building have an elevator? Laundry? Is it clean, appealing to the eye?

Unless I wanted gunshots in front of my door I would NEVER find the same ratio in Manhattan or in any of the boroughs. I’ve checked. I would be paying double for the same thing.

Which is still sad because yes I can afford my place but having a life and doing things and affording my place is becoming tough.

If I wanted to sacrifice that financial comfort zone and probably the ability to have a life and enjoy it I could move. Have a slightly bigger apartment, in a maybe slightly better area but be a prisoner because I will have no money left over to do anything… I could move.

But I wouldn’t be happy. I’m one of those people that needs the security blanket of money.

That is my comfort zone. I’m not talking $1,000s.

My mood drastically changes when I have $100 in my wallet versus $20. Granted with the cost of living these days that $100 doesn’t last long…but until I am down to my last $20 life is kinda good. Things can get done…places I can go.

My lease renewal came with a 1.6% rent increase. First increase ever with this apartment.

Every area, apartment will have pros and cons.

I dislike being in another state, away from my Dad and Sister (they live in NY-Westchester).

I dislike having to pay NY, and NJ state taxes.

I dislike stores closing early and not always being in walking distance of stores.

(I miss the days of walking to Stop and Shop in Sunnyside, Queens. There is a C-Town near JSQ that is lacking but serves its purpose when I don’t want to use Peapod food delivery service.)

I dislike the size of my apartment, and the fact that the building is older and we have mice.

I like coming home and the energy of people being dialed down a notch from the hustle and bustle of NYC.

I like that my rent  is $200 more than what my very first apartment was in 2000.

I like that I am so very very close to the PATH and it runs all night.

I like that with the new flux of Hipsters moving into the area

(a) Gentrification is starting.

(b) My rent only went up 1.6%.

I’m not leaving my comfort zone. I can still entertain dreams of moving but the reality is that until my salary gives me a bigger comfort zone to work with I’m not going anywhere.


*Journal Square fountain that in all my years of living here I have never seen on :-(*


Until next time,