By Andrés Feliciano, City Year New Orleans ’13
Apartment hunting is hard. Let’s face it--there’s a lot at stake. You’re trying to avoid walking into a roommate horror story all while searching for the perfect neighborhood with the perfect apartment for the perfect price. But it’s even more challenging trying to find a place when you’re new to an area.
I grew up in New Orleans and moved away when I was 12, so I didn’t have any blood relatives in the city when I moved back to serve with City Year. But I did have family friends who were able to help me out and offer me a sense of community when I moved back to serve.
For the first two weeks in town, as our corps started Basic Training Academy I stayed with one of my sister’s childhood friends. I slept on an air mattress in an unfurnished extra bedroom while she looked for a new roommate. It was a nice place, and my sister’s friend welcomed me with open arms, but the landlords living downstairs didn’t know I was there, so needless to say, it was a little uneasy at times while I searched for another place to stay.
Next, I moved in temporarily with six of my fellow AmeriCorps members. We shared a small three-bedroom apartment while we each looked for our own places. I won’t lie: it was cramped and uncomfortable—I slept in the hallway—but it was only temporary; and though it was difficult for us all (bear in mind, this was summer in New Orleans), we bonded and grew from it.
I’m glad we held out. Just as we finished BTA and started training at our respective schools, I got into a beautiful, spacious three-bedroom flat with two of my fellow AmeriCorps members for $1,200 a month ($400 mo/each). Because the three of us all lived in that first cramped apartment together, and because we all served at different schools, we were able to complement each other well as roommates.
The rest of our living situation beyond that was incredible. The apartment was comfortable, affordable, and in a great location. I’m really grateful and blessed to have been able to make that work. We enjoyed our place, it served us well, and we got along great.
I’m glad I could serve in my hometown. Not only did it mean I was familiar with the greater community I served with, had family friends and people I knew in the area, but it helped me serve my students better because I was already familiar with so much of the spaces, culture, and history of New Orleans. I had a great experience as an AmeriCorps member, and ended up staying in the city.
I’m still staying at that same apartment now, in fact. It turns out it’s one of the best living options in the city for its price. And I don’t plan on leaving it any time soon.