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Decoding Your Dreams About New York City Real Estate

Let's be honest: to live in New York City is to be predisposed to some kind of real estate anxiety. Whether it centers around a living situation, or a favorite book shop losing its lease, real estate is such an integral, and often stressful part of living in New York City that it even permeates our non-waking hours. "We have greater access to our memories and our unconscious while asleep and dreaming," psychoanalyst and dream specialist Anne Cutler told Curbed, "Therefore dreams often contain rich information about what's going on below the surface, including inner conflicts, issues and desires." Sure, New York City real estate can, for most, leave much to be desired, but how reactions to real estate manifest in dreams differs on a case-by-case basis. For some, Cutler says, a house can represent the self. For others, the appearance of a past dwelling can call to mind the origins of a recurring life conflict. We asked readers to submit their real estate-centric dreams for a decoding from Anne Cutler. Whether or not you've had a real estate dream before, this is worth checking out.

I dreamt that I found a door in my apartment that lead to this massive extra room no one knew about and suddenly our 300ish-square-foot one bedroom was big! And we didn't have to move to have kids! Just don't tell the landlord! I woke up and searched for that door. It did not exist. Dammit, Narnia! Anne Cutler: The dream image of finding a hidden door that opens into a room one didn't know was there could be a metaphor for discovering a new aspect of oneself that you didn't realize existed. In this dream, the expansion of the apartment with the new room could be both literal: room to start a family, and metaphorical: a psychological readiness to have children and expand the family.

Ed: The "additional room" dream was submitted a few times, with another example below. Does that say that city is starved for space, or what?

I had a dream last night there were holes in one of my walls and I looked through and there was an entire extra room, with a walk in closet and additional bathroom.

I once dreamt that I opened a door in my apartment, and inside was a huge room, with a grand piano, and french doors and steps down to a huge garden with views of my private beach—I remember thinking, Why have I never bothered going into this room before? AC: This dream probably deals with an internal opening up of the dreamer to aspects of her psyche not recognized before. In this case, the specifics of the hidden room—the piano, French doors, garden, and private beach—probably have personal significance to the dreamer. Overall, they convey a certain opulence and expansiveness.

I've been having the "More Space Behind the Unnoticed Door" dream for years. It's an abandoned apartment, about four big rooms, done in '50s style. The power is still on. AC: An abandoned apartment could signify something left behind, no longer used. This one is relatively spacious and located in the 1950s in style; perhaps an historical reference for the dreamer, or a style that evokes memories of a certain place or time in his life. That the power is still on could mean that there is still life there, it still could be inhabited, or that there is still power over the dreamer in whatever personal historical memory or conflict it refers to.

I've had a period dream for at least a decade where I find a hidden door in my/our new apartment that opens into a giant space that's bigger than the unit and then find a balcony and outdoor space leading into a private garden. The space in my dreams has expanded since [my son] Michael Alexander was born. I'm surprised that it doesn't include my fantasy pool! AC: This feels like a very positive dream. It may connote personal growth in the dreamer as she's gone through life changes and shifted internally over the past 10 years. The birth of her son has not only expanded her family unit, but has also created a more expansive sense of herself.

I have a recurring New York City real estate dream! It's about a magical neighborhood that's part Ditmas Park, part Cobble Hill, and part, like, Maine vacation town. It's like Ditmas Park in that it's exactly far enough from Manhattan to be a pain in the ass without being so far away that you'd never consider living there. Also, the houses are in the $1-million-or-less range, and the rent isn't terrible. (Maybe that was Ditmas a few years ago? Regardless, my psyche has generated a price range for the local real estate, which probably means I have been living here too long.) It's like Cobble Hill in that it's got young families and good restaurants but also has an older generation of 80s-era yuppie "pioneers" who raised their kids in the neighborhood and are suspicious of the new people. (Again: this what I dream at night.) Also, it's leafier than Ditmas Park and the houses are more brownstone-sized and older, though they aren't attached. And it's like a Maine vacation town in that it's on the water! That's the best part. You can buy a stand-alone house with a yard and a waterfront view for under $1 million a 45-minute subway ride from midtown. In my dreams, which happen maybe monthly, my husband and I are very close to closing on a house, but somehow we never get to the point where we're living there. AC: This dream fits Freud's concept of dreams as wish fulfillments. That is, we dream about the things we wish to happen as if they already are and gain satisfaction through the dream. This dreamer has a lot of elaborate detail to the utopian community she's designed in her sleep. I wouldn't be surprised if this dreamer has added on details in her sleep as the dream recurs over time, fine-tuning the specific aspects of the dream community to be just right. Unfortunately, the resolution of the dream shows it to be just beyond reach.

I currently live in Greenpoint and love it. Unfortunately rent has skyrocketed but that doesn't keep me from dreaming. I often dream of traveling back in time and buying a small place in Greenpoint with a back yard. It's a fixer-upper to start out with but after years of renting all I want to do is totally transform a place in a way my landlord is never going to allow. AC: This sounds to me like a waking dream, or fantasy.

After our first meeting with our broker—which, by the way, was very positive—I had a dream that he was like, "Rebecca, I'm sorry, but we're going to have to look on Staten Island." (My parents are assisting with the buying; that's why I said "we.") I was very depressed when I woke up. I'm sure the dream interpreter will say I have financial anxiety about buying an apartment but who knows what else this means. AC: This dream was most likely triggered by something in her initial meeting with the broker. Possibly the dreamer was trying to manage her expectations about what they could afford. The dreamer is most likely engaged in an internal weighing of her own fantasies about her dream apartment/house versus her fears about how far her finances will go. The dream does have an anxiety component. Given her depressed mood when she woke up, I'll assume the dreamer doesn't want to live in Staten Island. But the specifics of why not can only be gleaned from further discussion with the dreamer. The specific images we choose in dreams all have significance. So, in this case, why Staten Island instead of Queens or the Bronx or Brooklyn?

I dreamed last night I was unpacking in my new apartment—but I didn't recognize anything I pulled out of the boxes. AC: This dream may convey a slight sense of disorientation after a significant change in the dreamer's life. Moving to a new apartment can be as simple as upgrading to a new space, or it can accompany other life changes—new city, new job, change in relationship status. Not recognizing her belongings as she unpacks in the new space could signify a disconnection with her old self prior to the move.

I had a dream there were some missing floorboards in my bedroom. When I looked in the space, there were tiny feral cats and kittens. It was terrifying but I just walked around it. AC: This feels like an anxiety dream which could be triggered by events in the dreamer's life that are stirring up this emotion. The detail of the cats being feral and their having kittens gives a feeling of them being possibly out of control, untamed. It can also imply family. They are hidden under the floorboards in the bedroom and are now being exposed to partial view. Beneath the surface can imply something in the unconscious—a memory or conflict—that is trying to come to light.

I had dream (really, a nightmare) recently that my husband went and bought a second apartment and I was going to need to oversee another renovation. It was on Central Park West and the building looked like Mather. AC: This is an anxiety dream probably triggered by a difficult experience with a recent renovation (literal or figurative). The dreamer most likely feels like things are a bit out of control in her life; her husband in the dream is taking a significant action impacting both of them without consulting her.

I had a dream where my high-power, well-known former boss, barged into my new, just moved into, wonderful apartment, with a realtor, saw me naked in the shower and then told me he was going to buy the building out from under me and leave me homeless. AC: This sounds like the dream of someone who was overshadowed or dominated by her former boss and has recently left that job, but has yet to recover a sense of self-confidence. The boss barges in, meaning he was uninvited and unwanted in her wonderful apartment, which is a representation of her psyche. Being seen naked in the shower could be a metaphor for feeling vulnerable and unprotected. The boss is threatening to take away her new-found sense of herself and her independence and leave her out on the street, without protection or defenses. Her boss is not really going to do this, but the dream is a representation of the vulnerability she feels in her new self and the anxiety that it could be easily destroyed by a strong personality or by her own internalization of her boss's treatment of her. The boss could also represent a prior authority figure in the dreamer's life, such as a parent.

I have a recurring dream of my home burning down. That is, every home I've ever lived in from my more rural childhood home to my NYC apartment. AC: Recurring dreams often involve an underlying conflict for the dreamer that goes unresolved in her life. Without talking to the dreamer, it is difficult to interpret this dream with any specificity. However, fire in dreams can signify a powerful emotion—typically anger or passion (in the broad sense of the word). Having each of her homes, and presumably her possessions within, destroyed may imply a certain finality of moving on, or inability to return.

Ed: And, well, some dreams just speak for themselves.

I did have a dream about New York City real estate—I moved to Los Angeles in it. I'm joking, but I often have a real dream (or nightmare) where I can't make rent. There was one where my landlord like legitimately raised the rent to an amount that I absolutely couldn't afford, and I had to come up with the money because I wanted to stay in the neighborhood and stay in my apartment. Its this fear of landlords I have in my being somewhere. I need to be my own landlord! It's kinda crazy that I had that dream, because I will make the rent. It's just so pricey in New York. I was just in Los Angeles, and the prices were so affordable for big, big open spaces. I have these dreams frequently, but about San Francisco real estate. Sometimes I dream about New York City real estate and how cheap and awesome it is in comparison. It was basically just one time—in my dream I was gonna be relocated to New York, and my thought was: "Well, the weather sucks, but at least the rent is cheaper." For what it's worth, when I woke up, I was almost ready to ask for a move to New York. But then I realized I'd have to wear pants in the winter, and the deal was off. My literal dream is to wake up to a clean apartment or house. Someone came in while I was asleep and cleaned and organized everything. That would be the equivalent of my Cinderella story. That dream has been true my whole life, including the 18 years in NYC part. It's funny actually—even though I live in Chicago now, most of my dreams still take place in NYC. · Anne Cutler [official]