Our First Home

Tía Wendy grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. When she found out we were looking for our first place, she suggested her family’s old apartment. The landlord was great and it was a three-bedroom. THREE. I have never lived in a place with three bedrooms. And the price – oh, the price. It was perfection.

Since I wasn’t blog-minded when we moved in last August, I didn’t have the sense to take any pictures of our place before we spruced it up. I do have this video of me painting the grotesque plastic paneling though:

Anyway, after a lot of elbow grease, this is what our place looks like now…

We have one narrow hallway that has been decorated with some of your dad’s flare and a sweet print I picked up from Urban Outfitters.

The third bedroom is a walk-in closet of sorts. This is actually considered pretty tidy.

We spend a lot of time in the living room, since it has the biggest TV and a table. Believe it or not, we eat all our meals on that tiny coffee table from IKEA.

Originally, we were excited about this apartment because the aforementioned three bedrooms would mean we’d have room to grow. For you. I’ve since decided we should move. More on that later. This is your maybe-future room. There isn’t room for much – a full-size bed, a tiny set of drawers (Malm from IKEA), a watercolor from Burma (a gift from tío Matt), a fan, and a rug (also from IKEA).

I’m having serious paint-regret in the living and guest rooms. We should have tested samples on the walls before going all-out and painting them. Oh, well.

Through the narrow kitchen where ST makes all sorts of yummies (he’s a much better cook), there’s a backyard with our grill, a small deck, and wild roses.

By Brooklyn standards, our place might as well be a mansion, space-wise. While I appreciate the space, I do have some problems with our first place and renting in general. Some say that NYC isn’t a buying town, it’s a renting one. I’m not sure I agree. Since we’re planning on staying in NYC for a good long time (according to ST, he won’t live anywhere else), I’ve compiled a list about the pros and cons of owning a home.


  1. We don’t have to fix anything if it breaks.
  2. Currently, we don’t pay any basic utility bills. Water, heat, and electricity are all included in our rent.
  3. At our current budget of about $350K, renting is cheaper than having a mortgage.
  4. We have a lot of space. We might not be able to afford a similar apartment (3 bedrooms and about 1,200 square feet).
  5. We will have to cut back on non-essentials such as vacations and shopping. However, we’d have to cut back on these things anyway when we have you so this might be a neutral point.


  1. Home prices are low right now and are supposed to stay low for the next few years.
  2. We’ll have a magical thing called home equity.
  3. We can make improvements that will be investments for us and not a landlord (even though our landlords are a very sweet couple that we love).

Even though the cons list is longer, I still want to own our home. The tough thing is finding an affordable and agreeable location. Currently, we live in Sunset Park. This is an awesome location. It is a 15-20 minute drive from every point of interest – Staten Island (Sunday dinner with your grandparents), Park Slope, Prospect Park, and Bensonhurst (where we work). It is also a mere 30 minute ride from Manhattan on the best train ever – the D.

However, for all of Sunset Park’s awesomeness, it is plagued by mice. And yes, that includes our humble rented abode. Back in April, we found out we had a mice issue. This giant mouse hole was behind our stove. Gag.

After shedding tears (I was hysterical at the thought of mice crawling and pooping over our things) and paying a $700 exterminator bill (for which our landlord only paid half), we got the problem under control. The whole ordeal took two days (the exterminator had to come back to patch new holes I’d found).

It wasn’t as bad as the Hoarders episode with the guy and his thousands of “children” (one of my favorite shows, BTW) but I was stressed out nonetheless.

Our exterminator also told us that the mice issue must be very old, judging by the amount and size of the holes. Mental images of FB playing on the floor with mice made me nauseous. Yuck. If we owned this apartment, we’d do everything possible to ensure a mice-free future for you. However, since we’re renters, we’d be increasing the property value for someone else. No bueno.

Side note: Mice control is easy enough to DIY. We didn’t do it since we already paid someone else to, but according to our exterminator, this is what you need:

He began by stuffing a Brillo pad into a mouse hole. Then, he put tracking powder in there. The tracking powder causes gas to build up in their stomachs and since they can’t fart, they will explode from the inside out. That’s what our exterminator said anyway. Then, he put spray foam in the hole, covered it with a piece of plastic sheeting (you could probably use a piece of laminate tile) and spackled over it.

Since the whole mice debacle, I’ve been browsing Trulia for real estate deals. The best deals are usually coops. Though some might argue against buying one, ST and I decided it would be a good starter home. Plus, maintenance fees are 50% tax deductible.

Check out this place I’ve been following. Three bed, one bath is actually quite spacious by Brooklyn standards. It’s still too small for us, which is why we haven’t pulled the trigger.

Then, we went to Rockaway Beach a few days ago when ST’s family came to visit. Far Rockaway in Queens is a great neighborhood. Quiet, clean, and right next to a gorgeous stretch of beach. I decided to look into it on Trulia and lo and behold – I could not believe my eyes.

5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths! Under $300K! When I showed ST he replied “There’s probably a reason.” And that reason is that it is far from all points of interest except work. But the space… so much space…

Who knows where you’ll end up growing up?


About elbrooklyntaco

I'm a lover of urban living, thriftiness, and blogs! The concept behind this blog is to document the growth of our family and our adventures living in the concrete jungle of Brooklyn.

3 responses to “Our First Home

  1. Pingback: Building our Home « El Taco

  2. Pingback: Rodent Woes « El Taco

  3. Pingback: Rodent Woes | El Brooklyn Taco

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