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One more thing…

written Wednesday, 6/7/2006

My new apartment

The housing hunt has concluded more quickly than I anticipated!

Last summer’s ill-fated apartment search temporarily destroyed whatever romantic notions I had about living in New Orleans. After Katrina, Orleans Parish took a while longer to reopen than most outlying cities in Jefferson Parish. I was completely content to be living in my Kenner apartment at the time, which was a mere five minutes from my job at Bonnabel anyway.

In the last eight months though, the job transfer robbed me of my short commute. Kenner is still generally safe, but I feel no inclination to go out and explore generic suburbia. I’ve not once visited the shopping mall across the street. Traffic congestion was already a problem in Kenner and neighboring Metairie, and it’s only gotten worse since Katrina.

My recent hiring by Lusher, and a desire to live closer to most of my TGNO friends prompted me to seek housing in New Orleans once again. Based on location and atmosphere, I set my sights on the Uptown district. Typical of New Orleans, Uptown features “good” neighborhoods interspersed with “bad” ones. With a year’s time out here, though, I’d like to think that my ability to identify a high-risk area has improved a bit.

Perusing the classifieds on craigslist confirmed that housing has indeed gotten more expensive, and a lot sparser. Last year, one could find a decent one-bedroom for about $600/month. Now, rents for comparable apartments have risen by $100-$200 or more. Furthermore, there are far fewer “For Rent” signs and classified ad postings. I guess this is to be expected. While Uptown survived Katrina relatively well compared to some parts of New Orleans, flooding did occur. There are still plenty of houses that haven’t been renovated yet in Uptown.

Within a couple days of searching, I found the first apartment that truly excited me. I’d normally prefer to do a little more comparison shopping, but given the low availability of housing, I also decided that I needed to trust my gut and act quickly if I found a good place.

This apartment is in a “double shotgun house.” The kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom are lined up in succession from front to back. Features include hardwood floors, central A/C, and a washer/dryer room in the back of the building. For about an hour I chatted with the landlord, who lives in the house next door. I got a very strong vibe that we’d get along well, and I would enjoy living here. The neighborhood seems peaceful and quiet. After viewing one more apartment that afternoon, I returned to sign the lease. I’ll move in at the end of June.

The location of the apartment, at Soniat St. and S. Saratoga St., is ideal for numerous reasons:

  • Lusher High School, relocating to the former Fortier (pronounced “for-shay”) High School, is just a half-mile away. Depending on weather, I may choose to walk or bike to work.
  • St Charles Ave., the main Uptown corridor, is just four blocks towards the river. The famous streetcar offers a relaxing tour of parks, old oak trees, stately churches, and ostentatious 19th-century mansions.
  • Magazine St. is just 7 blocks riverside of St. Charles. The eclectic variety of shops and restaurants should provide many fun opportunities for hanging out.
  • Audobon Park is a mile away, sandwiched between St. Charles and Magazine. Adjacent to the Audobon Zoo, the large park looks like a great place for walking, biking, or relaxing.
  • The Mardi Gras Uptown parade route is not far from the apartment. Floats typically roll along Napoleon Ave. and then turn onto St. Charles Ave. This street corner is less than a mile away.
  • The Neutral Ground coffee house is just a block away! Although I don’t consider myself “the coffee house type,” I expect I’ll spend quite a bit of time at this one. Live music is featured every night, including frequent appearances by my friend Kelcy Mae.
  • Plady Ground Cemetery is right across the street from the apartment. Neighbors don’t get much quieter than this. The beautiful above-ground mausoleums provide a scenic and peaceful view from the front porch, in my opinion. Although safety is a concern in many of New Orleans’s cemeteries, I’m assured that this modest-sized graveyard doesn’t invite any trouble.

I can’t wait to live in my new apartment. Naturally I ponder the possibility that a misfortune similar to last summer’s awaits me. I’ll try to live cautiously rather than live in fear, and meanwhile maintain my optimism that many good things await me in the coming year.


Front of the apartment house.

Quiet neighbors right across the street.

Front of the old Fortier High School buillding that Lusher will occupy in the coming school year.