After Years of Living With Roommates, a Place to Call His Own
For the past decade, Yaakov Bloom, 30, has never rented the same apartment for more than a year or two. Rather, he was constantly moving, almost running, from one living situation to another.
Mr. Bloom, a manager at Irving Oak, a construction and management company in Brooklyn, where he helps coordinate the construction on both commercial and residential real estate projects, grew up in the Hasidic community, which he left when he was 19 to have a more independent life. He said he now identifies as Hasidic orthodox.
“I’m one of 13 siblings,” he explained. “I walked away from a community that wanted me to be a certain way.”
His first apartment, a basement in East Flatbush, was small and lonely. While he was living there, he met a girl whom he started dating and moved in with two years later. When they broke up, he moved again. And then again. And again. He relocated six times in the last decade, and there were almost always roommates.
But in October 2022, an old friend provided a long-term answer with a quasi-renovated, 700-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom industrial loft in an elevator building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for $3,500 a month.
“I’ve elevated myself here with this apartment, and in this short time I’ve matured,” he said. “For the first time in my life I feel like I can stay here for years.”
Before the pandemic, Mr. Bloom was living in a small, three-bedroom, two-bathroom in Bushwick, with two roommates and one large, unruly husky.
“It quickly became claustrophobic and overwhelming,” he said. “I realized at some point I would need to get my own apartment.”
His next move didn’t accomplish that goal, but he did find a better living situation. In mid-2021, Mr. Bloom spent several months searching Facebook groups, the most promising being New York City (NYC) Apartment Rentals, Houses, Sublets and Rooms, in the hope of securing a new living situation.
“I wanted more light, more space, a bigger kitchen, more amenities and someone who didn’t have pets,” he said.
He found a renter who had recently broken up with his girlfriend and needed a roommate to share a fully furnished, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Bushwick and to ease the financial load of the $4,000-a-month rent. Mr. Bloom moved in a week later, paying $1,500 a month.
The building was loaded with amenities: laundry room, dry cleaner, art studio, dog park, music room, gym, sauna, and well-appointed roof deck.
Mr. Bloom liked his roommate. He made new friends and formed a close Covid pod. And yet, something was still missing, which only increased his apartment wanderlust. Like his previous living arrangements, the situation felt temporary.
A year passed. Covid slowed down as the summer of 2022 neared. A prepandemic rhythm and hustle returned to the city as “the neighborhood changed and became unsafe,” Mr. Bloom said. “Suddenly there was a lot of crime and that made me uncomfortable. People came back so parking became impossible to find, and that became time-consuming and frustrating. Plus, they were raising our rent from $4,000 to $5,500. I would have to pay more to help with the increase.”
It was time to move, again.
$3,500 | Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Yaakov Bloom, 30
Occupation: A manager at Irving Oak, a construction and management company.
The Skylight: “This is the only skylight in the building because my apartment doesn’t have the fifth floor above it. I didn’t have good lighting in my old apartment. Now when I wake up, I see light beaming through the living room, which feels optimistic.”
Found Freedom: “I love living on my own. I don’t need to ask if I can have anyone over, I don’t have to worry if I play my music too loud that I’m waking anyone. The only person I need to report to is me.”
Mr. Bloom, a self-described last-minute person, put off finding another apartment until he had only a two-week window to do so. “I was in a bind, so I called a friend who lived in my old community who I knew co-owned a building and asked him for a favor.”
Mr. Bloom was told two units were available in the industrial building that had been converted into lofts; one was spacious and newly renovated, the other was not.
“The floors in the older unit were original, old and cracking. And the walls had exposed brick, which I didn’t like,” he said. Even though that space had a newly upgraded kitchen and appliances, lots of closets, high ceilings, and a skylight in the living room, they were small positives as far as Mr. Bloom was concerned. He ultimately lost the newer unit to a friend who was in a similar situation, and took the other loft.
“The community I lived in is small and we all know each other, and she really loved the apartment,” Mr. Bloom said of his friend. “I wanted to do the right thing. Plus, it’s nice having her in the building.”
In mid-September, he moved out of the Bushwick apartment, taking only a small amount of clothing, suits, shoes, coats, and several sentimental keepsakes, since he hadn’t accumulated any furniture from his previous rentals. His new lease didn’t start for another two weeks so he stored his belongings in his car and parked at his parent’s home in Williamsburg. Everything else he gave to friends or threw out.
“It was like starting over. I was shedding my old self. I wanted to take as little as possible from my old life,” he said.
Being without a home for two weeks, Mr. Bloom decided to travel to Israel and Jordan, and upon his return, moved into his new loft the first week of October. He quickly settled into a neighborhood that offered lots of parking spaces and an Equinox gym only five minutes away.
Mr. Bloom rattled off a list of additional local conveniences, including: a Walgreens; a gas station complete with a mechanic and a carwash; a barbershop; local bars; and perhaps most appreciated, an array of cuisines he hadn’t experienced: Indian, Argentine, and Mexican among them. “I’d never had tacos before,” he said. “There’s even a kosher restaurant and delis that stay open late.”
When he moved in, Mr. Bloom bought a number of essentials: a bed, a mattress, a desk, lamps, two TVs, a dresser, a couch and a table and chairs, all of which have helped to make the apartment a home. Still, it’s a slow process. Floating shelves sit next to an uncompleted bar area, and the second bedroom remains temporarily unfurnished.
“I’d like to redo the floors, they look dated and old,” he said. “I’ve also delegated a space for a washer and dryer, which I’m saving up for.”
Mr. Bloom said that when he finally finishes, he also hopes to have a fish tank, artwork to cover his bare walls, and a small sauna. But he’s in no hurry.
“I’m decorating and accumulating furniture slowly,” he said. “I’m a work in progress. I’m always going to be a work in progress. So is this apartment. It took me a long time to get here, and to get this. I don’t want to rush it.”
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