The fresh, crisp air buzzed with the kind of excitement only those first few summer days can bring. This is what drew Dani and I out onto the Brooklyn Promenade that afternoon. Working away in our Brooklyn Heights condo, where we had been housesitting for nearly two months, the sounds of summer teased us through the open window.
Once we decided to take a break, it was easy to speed down the stairs and run two blocks to sit on a bench and take in the cyclists and skateboarders, couples kissing and kids balancing ice scoops on sugar cones while running in circles around tired tourists who just finished their obligatory trek over the Brooklyn Bridge in order to snap pictures of the Manhattan skyline just across the water.
Had we just been in town on a quick holiday, we most likely would have joined those tourists, Dani would have worked on getting good skyline shots and then maybe we would have had dinner somewhere before heading back to a Manhattan hotel near Central Park or Times Square. This time around, though, we were not tourists.
We were New Yorkers, albeit temporarily, and housesitting for two months, we were able to develop a routine, habits, in fact a full life in the city. For an hour we let the strong sun singe our skin as we sat lazily on a bench with that relaxed feeling you can only have when you’re just a few blocks from ‘home’ and don’t need a thing.
Instead of descending upon wicker tables in a hotel lobby and eating half-frozen cantaloupe slices and toast for breakfast, I woke up everyday at 7am to feed our two adorable pet cats, meowing so loudly you’d think we hadn’t fed them and spoiled them with cuddles and treats the day before. Then I fed the fish and re-joined Dani (who slept through feeding time) in our king size bed, and fell back asleep to the sound of rough cat tongues licking away their piles of organic cat food.
Eventually we woke up, made scrambled eggs or yogurt and granola and cups of ridiculously strong coffee and got to work. The mornings were filled with writing, phone calls, interviews, podcast or video editing – the multi-faceted mountains of work bloggers chip away at just to keep plates spinning every day.
As morning dissipated into the long afternoon stretch, we would inevitably become anxious to get out and explore before returning to feed the cats in the early evening and heading back out for dinner or meet-ups with friends. That’s the thing about actually living in New York – there is never a shortage of interesting people to meet, including friends from the online world and friends of friends who turned into great friends of our own.
When we weren’t out exploring the five boroughs, or meeting people for coffee, ice cream, dinner or drinks, we were enjoying the comforts of ‘home’, watching Netflix movies on the futon and ordering in any type of international cuisine using the Seamless food delivery app.
In the two months we housesat in Brooklyn, we hung out in hipsterville known as Williamsburg, walked home to upscale Brooklyn Heights from up-and-coming Red Hook, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge several times with visiting friends, walked the length of Broadway in Manhattan, went to Queens, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Governor’s Island and Roosevelt Island, walked through Prospect Park and Central Park, Cobble Hill and the East Village, Chelsea and downtown Brooklyn, we hit flea markets, farmers markets, ate from food trucks and at trendy brunch locations.
But it was the soft, easy details of actually living in New York that filled us with joy. Dani went running over the Brooklyn Bridge once or twice a week, we loved jumping out to sit on the Brooklyn Promenade or watching in awe as teenagers sang doo-wap on the C Train back home at night, eating in the diner around the block or having coffee in a cafe around the corner from our house.
These moments probably shine even brighter for us because we were able to do this all without paying a single cent in rent. Cuddling and feeding their cats and giving the condo a few good scrubs was all that was required for us to live out an absolute dream. We estimate that we saved between $5000-$7000 in rental costs over those weeks, which meant we could drop extra cash on concert tickets or see a Broadway show. In fact one of our absolute highlights was seeing the best piece of (interactive) theater we have ever seen, Sleep No More at the McKittrick hotel, which we may not have done if we were already spending $150 a night on a hotel room or vacation rental in New York.
More than anything, spending the spring and start of summer in New York gave us a massive gift, one we have been looking for since we started traveling all those years ago. We discovered that New York is a place we could actually call home. Even if we never settle down there (or anywhere, for all we know), our love of New York is now so ingrained in our hearts that we know we want to create a lifestyle that involves a month or more here, every year, at least.
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At first, a housesit in New York was like finding a needle in a haystack, but ever since our first NYC Housesit, we have come across several sits in the Big Apple this summer – especially TrustedHousesitters is noteworthy here, where in recent months several amazing gigs have popped up for New York City.
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