Your choice of living location is probably the most important decision you can make, along with selecting the right plastic surgeon and hair color. What does your neighborhood say about you? Are you a hipster (Brooklyn)? A banker (Financial District)? An art dealer (TriBeCa)? A drug dealer (Queens)? Your zip code reveals as much as your choice of clothing and magazine subscriptions, projecting not only your current social station but your desired one as well.
While I resided in New York, I often changed apartments but never considered living outside of Manhattan. For the final two years I lived in the city, I had a studio apartment the size of a shoebox on the Upper East Side. There was something to be said for the fact that I could walk five minutes West and breathe in the rarified Park Avenue air, stroll down the shops on Madison Avenue and cruise the Museum Mile. It was both inspirational and aspirational – I was so close to the gilded lifestyle I wanted to live I could see it from my window. My choice of location on the Upper East Side projected that I wanted to be taken seriously and was dedicated to upward mobility.
By reorienting your location, you reorient the direction your life may take. If you get your coffee every morning at Intelligentsia in Silver Lake, you will likely come across out of work actors, aspiring screenwriters, and part time dog walkers. Move over a few miles to Coffee Bean in Beverly Hills and you’ll be standing in line with junior talent agents, plastic surgeons, and plastic surgery devotees. At the Starbucks in Malibu you’ll find investors, retired studio executives and Cindy Crawford. It’s worthwhile to know the demographics of each location and align your choice of home with the milieu to which you aspire.
Once you’ve figured out the neighborhood that most suits your ambitions, you have to find the right place that fits your needs. One time I made the mistake of having a wealthy date pick me up at my apartment and he scoffed at the building. Granted, he was an asshole but nonetheless there was a lesson to be learned – façade is everything. Live in the smallest unit in the best building in the best neighborhood you can afford and never invite anyone over. Your social life should consist of being invited to other peoples’ homes and chic hotel bars.
In most instances, you should not consider living with a roommate unless that person is paying all the rent. Not only is this a sign of immaturity, but it also limits your ability to live a vagabond lifestyle by subletting your apartment while traveling abroad. If you feel lonely without the company of someone else, get a dog (never a cat), a Netflix subscription and a medical marijuana prescription.
Do not spend a lot of money to furnish your apartment. Think of your abode as transitional only, until you have more money to afford something better or move in with a rich lover. Steve Jobs famously lived without furniture because his aesthetic sense was so discerning he preferred nothing to the wrong thing. At the same time, you should not live like a meth addict, sleeping on a mattress on the floor that simultaneously serves as desk and kitchen table. This is for your own level of self-respect, as you will inevitably feel unworthy in the homes of others who own basic furnishings like a couch and dining table.
Once you’ve found your ideal home, spend as little time there as possible. Hang out in the local spots where neighbors go for a drink or dinner alone and sit at the bar. Make friends with the people who have nicer homes and cable TV (the money you save on this can be funneled into further socializing).
Finally, never stay anywhere longer than two years – life is about movement. Keep pushing up into you’ve reached the penthouse peaks or the Hollywood Hills.