Prior to Hurricane Sandy, Niemanndi had a good life in the financial district with his family. She and her husband, Michael Mandy, raised three children while working as a photographer. She worked with him to launch a blog, An Afternoon With, featuring intimate images of individuals and families at her home.
Then an extraordinary storm flooded their two-bedroom apartments. The new owner bought the building, repaired it, and raised the rent by nearly 30%.
“We had to let go of life in the city,” Mandy said.
The family is located in Catskill, Jeffersonville, New York, and moved about two hours north of the city. They had dogs, cats and chickens, and settled in the countryside, but still lost much of what they had before the storm.
“My husband and I always lamented that New York City prices were ridiculous, especially for artists,” she said.
“After the pandemic, it was like,’Oh, my god, I need to meet people.’ So I thought I should think of a way to come back.”
She started looking into the city’s rent just to figure out the price. “My husband fought for it first,” she said with a laugh. “He thought I was leaving him or something — a joke, not a joke.”
But even he was intrigued when more bargains began to appear in the early days of the pandemic.
“I grew up in New York, so I realized it was like going home,” Mandy said.
At some point, they came across a fascinating large studio with large windows and lots of light. They knew confidently that they wouldn’t pay more than 30 percent when the lease expired because the rent was stable. The only catch for Mandy and her husband was that it was on the Upper East Side.
“As a stubborn downtown person, we were reluctant to think of the Upper East Side for two reasons, one because downtown real estate is weird — it’s very expensive. And the Upper East Side Because there are many good public schools. At one point, I realized that the northern part of a private school would cost as much as an apartment in the city. “
Shortly after the apartment arrived, Mandy was accepted into Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program. “It fits all kinds of places and it makes sense to have this kind of dual lifestyle,” she said.
Mandy’s youngest child, Quien, attends Eleanor Roosevelt High School and lives in an apartment full-time. Her two older children, Isabella (20) and Kai (18), both attend Bard College.
“The space is so small that we can live together with three or five people, but it’s not comfortable. Having two people at a time is a comfortable level. Three people are pushing it. , My marriage adopted a kind of part-time position. Most of the time I spend Monday to Thursday here with Quien, and my husband came down to stay with them on Thursday. increase Friday. “
Families try to spend time together on weekends, usually living in the north at their home in Jeffersonville, which always depends on their busy schedule.
In addition to his school education and work as a publisher, Mundy is also a restaurant owner who runs three separate locations for a Vietnamese restaurant called Bā & Me (two in the north and three in Poconos). Her husband recently bought a book for her entitled “How to Sit”. As she said, “that’s what I’m having a hard time doing.”
$ 1,650 | Upper East Side
Nhi Mundy, 42 years old
Profession: Publisher & Restaurant Owner
New Venture: In addition to publishing the magazine DV Eight, which features the arts and culture of northern New York. Mundy launched a second magazine in April called “Upstate Woman” focused on celebrating women in New York and the modern countryside since then. “When I moved to the north, I noticed that there was little literature for people like me, those who came as transplants,” she said.
Golden handcuffs: Mandy appreciates the restaurant’s success, but also wants to be free from the restaurant so that he can work on other projects. “Thanks to the restaurant, I can have a magazine, I can have this apartment. It’s a blessing and a curse. I want to be a good businessman, but I want to be happy. There are also some aspects. “
After living in a three-story house on three acres in the country, it was difficult to put much of their life into the studio.
“Immediately after we signed the loan,” she said. “I immediately started working in my head and organized and partitioned the apartment to serve everyone.”
The loft she says acts as Quyen’s “mini-bedroom” — and when they are, they also have their siblings. Once the ladder continued to the loft, Mandy replaced it with a small staircase and added shoji for privacy. A Murphy bed is hidden behind the curtain, and a twin air mattress is placed under the loveseat. Apartments are a study of space-saving strategies — but often there aren’t enough rooms.
“It’s such a small space that both Quyen and I go to school,” Mundy said. “Sometimes I need to go back to Colombia to study in the library and provide my own space where I can study at home with peace of mind.”
And to my surprise, Upper East Side has grown into Mandy. “The only thing I felt from living downtown was this constant pressure to be something else,” she said. “I feel very anonymous here and I like it. People are really wearing normal clothes and there is no pressure to be something else.”
Mandy enjoys feeling the pace of the city again. “This country is wonderful,” he said. It’s great that many people do interesting things and become part of that energy. “
For their 16-year relationship, the partial return to the city was rejuvenating and challenging for Mandy. “In a way, it’s annoying,” Mandy said.
“Commuting is little fun. Sleeping alone is lonely. Cooking with two people is not as special as cooking with three or five people. The conversation is not the same.”
However, there is also a feeling of update. “Now, when I meet my husband, I get to know him again. This marriage resumes. It definitely created a new layer. This is a new and interesting point for our relationship. In a sense. So that might be even better. “
So far, Mandy said her unconventional lifestyle has no expiration date.
“I don’t know how long I’ll stay here, but for now it serves a purpose and makes me happy. I want to keep it as long as possible,” he said.