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Why One Long-Time New York Renter Bought a Home in Austin

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For Renters Week, Vox Media cohort Chris Plante, a senior editor at The Verge, waxed introspective about his years as a New York City tenant—and why even the best things can't last forever.

For the final half of my decade spent living in New York City, my wife and I shared a rental in the former West Village Police Precinct. Technically, we lived in the old holding cells. The unit was separated from the stone complex of the main building by a narrow four-foot-wide path, and the 500-square-foot layout featured a narrow living room and half-kitchen downstairs, a bedroom and bath upstairs, and a low-ceilinged loft above that. (We once thought we'd turn it into a reading nook. It quickly became storage.)

Cramped? Sure. But we had two floors, no neighbors above or below us, and a courtyard only accessible to four other neighboring apartments. The the other folks were living in what were once, when Teddy Roosevelt was Police Commissioner, the morgue and horse stables. Those neighbors, some of whom have lived in the building since its conversion over three decades ago, planted flowers, held courtyard get-togethers, and allowed their cats to roam free, keeping birds and bugs from taking over the open-air space. I never thought we would leave.

Why, ultimately, they did >>