My Tin-Roofed Outbuilding in Dar es Salaam

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city and de facto capital, $500 a month will get you a little room in a tin-roofed outbuilding. You’ll get above-average electricity, too. "Above average," because you can expect frequent blackouts in Dar—that’s why most expats and well-off Tanzanians have standby generators. My studio doesn’t have a standby generator, but it is hooked into the electrical system of nearby Muhimbilli National Hospital. I don’t know how or why we get to siphon off their power, but the government does a pretty good job pumping watts into Muhimbilli. Even now, as the long dry season transitions into the short rains, and there’s no water in the hydroelectric dams.

A Room in an Elderly Stranger’s House, and Other Places I’ve Lived

Besides me, David Sedaris is the only American I know of who spent a big part of his early 20s rooming with an elderly stranger. He describes this time, during which he took up residence in a Chapel Hill boarding house out of some vague, misplaced nostalgia for an erstwhile age, in his 2007 essay "This Old House." But the four months I spent with C.C. were a little different.

Places I’ve Lived: A Black Tub, Missed Sunsets, And The Original Airbnb

Where have you lived, Anna Wiener?

2009-2013, Eckford Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, $1000/mo.

This apartment! It felt like a stage set. I loved it desperately and didn’t deserve it at all; how my friend Maya found it is still a mystery to me. It was on the top floor of a small, three-story building; everything, including the stairwell, slanted at about fifteen degrees. When Maya and I moved in, we were told that the place used to be an illegal nightclub, with an underground tunnel to the laundromat next door. The landlords had broken down the wall between two studio apartments; we slept in walk-in closets and had two bathrooms, two living rooms, and no privacy. The ceiling was popcorn plaster and the fixtures in one bathroom were black. As far as I know, nobody ever snorted cocaine off the rim of the tub, but everyone mentioned the possibility.

The Eckford Street apartment was beautiful, and constantly surprised us with new ways an apartment can be broken.

When I Look Back, It Wasn’t So Bad, Really

Where have you lived, Philip Whitman?

Places I’ve Lived: A Sunporch, Next to a Elevated Train and a California Cottage

I moved into my first apartment, one block off campus, the summer after my sophomore year in college. The unit was on the upper-floor of a craftsman-style duplex, with two real bedrooms and three pseudo-bedrooms that were actually converted sun porches, which were lovely and light-filled in the summer, but terrifyingly cold during the winter.

Places I’ve Lived: A Dormitory for the Arts, Urban Hilltops, and a Former Department Store

Where have you lived, Marissa Barker?

Long Days Journey Into Rent Stabilization

Where have you lived, Ian MacAllen?

Places I’ve Lived: Detroit Edition

We lived in a brownstone off of Eight Mile in a decidedly not dangerous and predominantly gay area. To the west of us, houses began to fall in on themselves and the night became progressively darker. The streetlights were out.

Living Situations From Seattle to NYC

Where have you lived Julia Lipscomb?

Doing the Right Thing, Living With the Wrong People

Where have you lived, April Corbin?