Friday, June 12, 2009

Chatting with author Jean Koning

Suppose I was in the position I was about to move to New York City. What is still affordable for someone like me?
Obviously I need something in Manhattan, since I am the big shot artist and all. Well, that and the fact that I wish nothing but the best for my wife and my daughter. And the three cats and the dog of course. (And where else other than New York City can one get that?!)
What does a reasonable man do in a position like that?
Yes! He flips through the pages of the New York Times.
Step inside with me. The first real estate ad that kind of fits the picture in my head is 219 West 144th Street, Harlem, New York. The pics on the internet for the same address look promising. Except for the kitchen that is. The American Style of Kitchen design is not my kind of thing. Most of the American kitchens I have visited in my life are plain ugly. Very coarse. Everything mega-big. And dark. But a European wino can take care of that by a simple re-design. Turn it into something more European. Something tasteful.
So anyway: 219 West 144th Street. Three bedrooms, one bathroom. Eight hundred and fifty square feet. Co-op. Maintenance at $483. Pets allowed. Pre-war. Washer/dryer in unit. And most importantly 8.47% off of the original price, so now it is only (only?) $270,000. It’s a freaking bargain.
(Can you imagine me already, wandering through this wonderful place, cigarette in one hand – as long as it’s legal – and a glass of wine in the other, telephone between my ear and my shoulder, discussing rights and parts and agent-deals, while my wife fills the dishwasher and my daughter watches an endless stream of Dora the Explorer re-runs?)
Still there’s one little catch. And it’s not the well known European panic reaction “oh-my-god-you-got-a-wife-and-a-kid-what-the-fuck-are-you-doing-in-harlem!” The little catch is the fact that my wife doesn’t want to live in good ole’ New York.
(Yes, it freaks me out too!)
So let’s just compare this wonderful Co-op with something my wife would enjoy. (I think)
How about a three bedroom, two bathrooms, 1,623 Sq. Ft. single family house built in 1951. Located at 775 81 ST, Biscayne Point, Miami Beach. That’s nice for the kid and the wife and the dog and the cat, but I will f*cking die in Miami Beach. It’s one step away from hip-replacement, if you catch my drift.
But, although I started my quest as prosperous as possible, there was another thing that stopped my search for the ultimate house in the U.S. Yes, Ladies and Gents: Oprah.
She invited some financial advisor as a guest in her show the other day and the adviser showed the entire world what to do in America these days with money that doesn’t exist. What to do with second mortgages and Cobra-funds and all that Jazz.
“I’m not gonna buy a house there,” my wife shrieked into my ear. “This is so depressing!”
Well, thank you, Oprah!
Yet another attempt to move my family to America has once more failed. We’re just gonna fly in and out of the damn nation the next couple of years.
I’ll try it again in a few years. Of that I’m sure.
For now nothing lasts but me and the Times. Is it just me, or does everybody get off on the pages of Real Estate?

Purchase the book here

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