Hello? I wish to communicate to the supervisor of the pandemic please. I used to be promised low cost actual property, goddammit. I used to be advised Covid had killed cities and no person wished to stay in them any extra. I used to be advised city property prices would plummet. Well, it certain looks like somebody forgot to inform home prices. Last time I checked – and I test a number of occasions a day – main cities are nonetheless majorly unaffordable.
To be honest, prices have fallen in New York’s ultra-luxury market. But do I care if an condominium that when price $20m now prices $17m? No – this data is irrelevant to my way of life. Rents have additionally dropped from extraordinarily exorbitant to only exorbitant. But each time I Google “house prices”, I’m greeted with headlines similar to “house prices hit record highs”. The value of a mean home in London, for instance, is nearly 10% larger than this time final yr and has just topped £500,000 for the first time.
My accomplice, E, and I stay in a one-bedroom condominium in Manhattan. Sometimes, when E is on a Zoom name, I’ve to lie on my abdomen and slither or commando roll throughout the flooring so I can get from the lounge to the kitchen with out her colleagues seeing me. I imply, sure, technically she may flip her digicam off momentarily but slithering is extra enjoyable. Anyway, I like our condominium: whereas the place isn’t large, it’s excellent for our wants. Or no less than it was till we determined to convey a toddler into this hell-world. At the starting of E’s being pregnant, I used to be pretty blase about how a lot area a child would want. We’d simply stick a crib in the closet, I assumed. Turns out, no, infants want air flow. Also, infants develop. So we now have been spending our weekends schlepping round Brooklyn wanting for a much bigger place – which is why I’ve a sudden obsession with actual property.
Here’s a enjoyable factor I’ve realized from taking a look at 1,000,000 residences: kitchens are going extinct. They don’t appear to exist in some of the newer locations we now have checked out. There is only a gigantic fridge in the lounge and sufficient counter area to set out your takeout. Another factor I’ve realized: many Americans are not conversant in the British expression, “Not enough space to swing a cat”. If you say this loudly throughout an open home you’re going to get some alarmed seems.
In New York, Brooklyn was the place you moved once you wanted area, but now it’s fully unaffordable, so I’ve began wanting additional afield. Like these villages in Italy the place you should purchase a house for €1. Or Northwest Arkansas, which has been providing folks $10,000 (and a free bicycle) to maneuver there. And Tulsa, Oklahoma, which can be paying $10,000 (but no free bicycle) to anybody keen to maneuver there. Alas, I don’t suppose relocating to the Bible belt is the finest concept once you’re a Jewish-Palestinian lesbian couple. The cash we’d save on housing would find yourself being spent on our child’s remedy.
Anyway, we are taking a break from house-hunting. I used to be watching the film Cloverfield the different day and realised I had reached a stage of obsession that was decidedly unhealthy: the monster was levelling Manhattan and consuming everybody in sight, and the solely factor I may suppose was: “Hmmm, I wonder if you would be able to pick up a bargain in Brooklyn after the monster’s rampage?” I didn’t really end the film so I don’t know the way it ends. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the monster had infants and was pressured to maneuver to Northwest Arkansas.
• Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist