June 13, 2010

And I would like to commute on a unicorn

One of the incoming first years e-mailed me -- he's considering moving to my neighborhood, and he has some questions about the area. He told me that he is attracted to my neighborhood because the rent is low, it's very diverse, and there is a lot of good Mexican food. So far so good... but then he said that he is looking to rent a nice house, with no bugs, in a safe area with no gang activity.


I composed a very long and helpful response, I thought. I explained that it's a fun neighborhood with good bars, good food, and cheap rent. But no bugs? Everywhere on earth has bugs, and in the city you will end up with more roaches just because it's the city. And while some blocks are worse than others no street has zero gang activity. You will hear gun shots from time to time. As for renting a nice house on a grad student stipend... yeah, that's pretty much impossible.

So I explained that in my neighborhood, he could get either a large shitty apartment or a tiny nice apartment, with spiders and roaches and rodents, on a street with minimal gang activity. I told him which streets have open air drug markets, which ones are known for beatings, and which ones are more calm and residential. It was very good information. And he never wrote me back! My e-mail was like six paragraphs of helpful advice, but I wonder if he is angry at the messenger?

I emphasized that I like living here, and that I feel safe enough. I told him that it's a great neighborhood. But you just can't expect a low-income urban neighborhood to be clean and safe and bug-free... and "cheap rent" doesn't mean you can rent a nice house for $600... I mean, this isn't Cleveland.


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