My Flat Costs £3,600 A Month — & Here's What It Looks Like

Sometimes, it seems like everyone in Manhattan is either moving to Los Angeles — or Brooklyn. But some Manhattanites might just be here for life. "I live in the best part of NYC which is the Upper West Side," says R29 staffer Ally Hickson. "I don’t care what anyone else says. Often people say it’s Brooklyn, but they’re wrong."

So what's so special about the neighbourhood? For Ally, it's a prime spot to watch films — and do plenty of celeb-spotting. "The building across from me has a lot of celebrities. I've seen Liam Neeson and Howard Stern. Plus, the cinema around the corner is where a lot of film premieres happen," she says. "I've watched Emma Watson walk the red carpet. I've seen George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. One week, the Paul Blart: Mall Cop sequel came out and they blocked off our entire street to let people ride on Segways."

The prime location does come with a steep price tag of £3,600. Split between three roommates, however, and this apartment situation starts to seem pretty sweet — especially considering it's only a block away from Central Park.

Check out Ally's apartment in this video, then click ahead to read more about her decorating style and shop her picks.
How long have you lived in this apartment?

"I’ve been at the apartment for five years now. I first moved into the really tiny room and I paid £1,050, but then my friend moved out to go live with her boyfriend in Rhode Island, and over time I just had so much stuff that I had to move to a larger room. So now I pay £1,200."

Has the overall rent been raised much over the years?

"Not really. Our landlords have been very reasonable with negotiations. First, there wasn't a broker’s fee when we moved in, because we found it off Craigslist. We just paid the first month rent and last month rent as the deposit, and that’s pretty much it. Our landlords are really nice people. If I called them on the phone and was like, Hey, I don’t want to pay £50 more in rent, they’ll be like, Okay, how about this? This year they only raised our rent £16, so we each pay around £5-6 more."

That's a crazy good deal.

"I mean, Craigslist. I was looking with a friend of mine, and we were using a broker, we were using Streeteasy, we were both doing a little bit of everything. We really liked the west 60s because we like being close to Lincoln Center. I go to the opera and ballet at least three times a year, and I run, so I wanted to be by Central Park. We went on Craigslist and saw the apartment listed and we thought it was a scam. We thought, there’s no way there's a hidden, nice walkup apartment in this neighbourhood. I mean, this neighbourhood is really expensive! So we expected the person to be a creep. But then once we were inside, it was so nice and homey, and the girl who lived here was cooking food. We loved it right away. "

Ektorp Sofa, £350, available at Ikea.
You mentioned you were living alone before this. What was it like moving in with roommates?

"I like living with roommates, actually. I’m an only child so being alone is my favourite thing in the world, but it’s nice to have roommates because it forces me to interact with other people. Plus, you share bills.

"I’m also paranoid of living alone. When I lived alone I would get freaked out, like, what if someone is my flat? I love horror films, and I would go watch a horror film and then go home to a dark flat. Now, I’ll come home, and Ada’s home and her door is open and the lights are on and she’s watching a rerun of How I Met Your Mother, and Jess is making dinner."

Would you ever move out?

"All my friends want me to move to Brooklyn. And I love my friends, but I need them to schedule appointments with me, like, three to five business days in advance. I don’t want you to walk down the street because you live right next to me and be like, 'Hey!' This isn’t an episode of Friends. This is an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Where did you buy the lot of your furniture?

"We live six blocks from West Elm and two blocks from Bed Bath & Beyond, There's also a Lowe's a few blocks away. For us, everything needs to be functional — it can't just be cute. I don't own anything in the apartment that I don't use. It just seems wasteful."

How would you describe your decorating style?

"If Cher Horowitz and Hermione Granger had a baby, it would make my room.

"Mostly, I just have a lot of shoes and books. I have so many that I’m putting them in interesting places: I put books on my dresser, I put books on my TV stand, I put books on the windowsill, I put books inside of a basket..."
How do you keep things organized?

"I don't like clutter — I like organised clutter.

I also purge twice a year. I do it in the fall and in the spring. I’m in the middle of it right now. I just turned 30, and I realised that I have so much clothing from my 20s that don't feel like me. They were a cool trend, but I finally know what my style is, so I don’t think I'll wear a lot of those things anymore."

What's the worst place you've ever lived?

"I’ve been really blessed. I’ve never lived anywhere terrible. In college, I lived in a dorm with my best friend in the centre of campus, which was great. But we were forced into a room that was a single turned into a double, so we had bunk beds for the year. At first it was like, 'This is going to be so cool! We’re best friends! We have bunk beds!' But let me tell you, that got old really quick. But it proved that we’re great friends because we really didn’t have any problems with each other the whole year."

Umbra Zig Zag Photo Collage Display, £25.71, available at ebay.
Want more Sweet Digs? Watch our second episode, here.
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