West Side Rag » Upper West Sider Who Broke Her (Rent-Stabilized!) Lease to Flee

Posted on August 30, 2020 at 9:57 am by Carol Tannenhauser

Maureen Cross in Teddy Roosevelt Park.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Before you head for the hills or suburbs, you might want to read this cautionary tale, shared by Upper West Sider Maureen Cross, who took the leap and left New York City.

“I’ve always lived in the low 80s, east of Broadway,” Cross told West Side Rag. “When the pandemic hit and everything started shutting down…” She paused. “I work at home and I’m single, so I rely on the street traffic, the activity on the sidewalks, and when that just shut down overnight, I was like, ‘I gotta get out of here. I’m going back to Vermont where I went to college.’”

Then, Maureen did the unthinkable. “I gave up my rent-stabilized apartment,” she said, ruefully. “Clearly I was losing my mind. I had COVID brain. But, anyway, I did. I gave up my rent-stabilized apartment and went to Vermont and signed a one-year lease.”

At first, everything was wonderful. “For the exact same price as I paid for my studio apartment, I got a three-bedroom apartment with a dishwasher and a backyard and lots of counter space and a driveway to park my car: all the things I thought I had to have,” she said. “But after about a month, I’m like, ‘There’s no people here. There’s nothing going on.’ And after three times of drying my clothes in the backyard on the clothesline, I’m like, ‘This is wearing off very quickly.’ After a month, I started looking at apartments in the city. It was a mess getting out of my lease.”

But what about the beauty of Vermont? “I love the Hudson River and Riverside Park and Central Park and the park beside the Museum of Natural History,” this diehard New Yorker replied. “Those are stunning to me, absolutely stunning. To see the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain feels a little sterile, like a postcard.”

“I think New York in its lockdown is better than anywhere else in full blown,” she said. “It became very clear to me. I love New York. I went to the Met yesterday. I was in tears. It wasn’t very crowded. It felt a little sad. I think the statues and paintings missed us. The naked men in the Roman gallery were like, ‘Hi!’

The Met isn’t crowded. Photograph by Maureen Cross.

“New York is not going to die. It’s never going to die. It can’t die. I don’t even watch the news,” Maureen said, “because it isn’t the New York I see and feel, it isn’t. The city is vibrant compared to when I left. The stores are open, the restaurants are open, the Met is open; it feels alive.

“I’m in my place,” she concluded. “Yep, yep, yep. I don’t care about kitchen counter space, just give me a bus that takes me to the Met in five minutes.”

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