We came up with the ‘Meet a Member’ series to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what living in the Cohabs Community is like. This installation is the story of a childhood dream shared by our member Guila and an old friend. Now thanks to Cohabs’ more sustainable model of living, that dream has become a reality.
So, here goes!
Meet Giulia, a Brazilian living at our Crown Heights Cohabs in Brooklyn.
Hi Giulia. Can you tell us about yourself?
I am 28 years old and originally from a town in Brazil called Minas Gerais. If you’ve ever heard of Pao De Queijo, Brazil’s popular cheese bread, it originated in my region, so that’s where I come from.
I work as a freelance graphic designer but when the pandemic hit lots of things changed for me. I began rethinking my life and reconnecting myself to the old things I used to want in my life and that brought me to New York City.
So rethinking your life brought you to New York City? Can you tell us the story of how that happened?
Yes. When I was younger I had a childhood friend and we would always dream about coming to see New York City. It was just a dream that we wanted to do, you know? Then she got into a university here in New York City. And soon she was leading this interesting life–totally different from mine–and sending me all these videos of the places we had both dreamed of visiting here.
So I would be in Brazil watching these cool videos and wishing I could be in New York City with her.
Then I got an employment opportunity in Australia that made it possible to come to New York City and I just jumped at the chance.
That’s an amazing story! So you finally got the opportunity to come to New York City. How did you end up choosing to live in a coliving space?
I know how overpriced New York can be and I was only coming here for six months on a visa. I didn’t want the pain of having to buy all new stuff like furnishings and things like that for a place when it was short term. So, I began looking for options that would make my life easier. I hunted through Facebook groups and everywhere else online looking for apartments where people would be willing to share with me and also show me around since it was going to be a new city for me.
I couldn’t find anything so I also checked the hostels here in the city and some of the more affordable hotels further away from the city. I was going to be going to an English school to help me speak English better so I checked the dorms the schools had too.
With the dorms here in Manhattan, they were expensive and I would have to share a room. But you know, I am not a teenager, I don’t mind sharing common spaces but sharing a room with all those bunk beds just wasn’t my thing. And sometimes I have to work late nights so the person sharing with me wouldn’t feel comfortable at all.
Then one day, Cohabs just appeared on a blog I was reading and it seemed interesting.
What made Cohabs stand out?
Well, after I left that blog I went to Cohabs’ Instagram page and to their website and saw that they were not new actually. They have a lot of coliving spaces in NYC and around the world, and they had a lot of reviews and videos, and other content that made me feel comfortable that this place is real and legitimate and I can trust them.
After finding Cohabs, I bet you were happy to be able to finally see your friend and New York City. Tell us about the first day you walked into the Cohabs house?
Wow. So I was nervous that first day. One of the reasons I came to the U.S. was to improve my English and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with the people in the house. I thought nobody would understand me. I also had my mother with me to help me settle in for that first week and she didn’t speak English at all.
But the moment I stepped into the house with my luggage I was happy. I didn’t know it, but it was open party day (Cohabs sponsors regular events in every house!). And I arrived in the middle of that!
Everyone was talking and drinking and just having fun. They welcomed me and immediately started showing me around and trying to communicate with my mother.
I felt so comfortable that I immediately went upstairs to my room, took a shower, and returned to the party to get to know all the housemates I would be living with!!
What has been the best thing about living at Cohabs?
Everyone is nice and helpful and there are always events happening in the house. I love all the authentic American events like July 4th we had a barbeque and for Halloween I got to carve my first pumpkin! And for Thanksgiving coming up we’re all having a big Thanksgiving dinner that I’m excited about.
Speaking about authentic culture, how have you been liking NYC? Has it lived up to your expectations?
In some ways it has, and in some ways, it hasn’t.
On the positive side, I expected it to be full of these big buildings and I am amazed at how it isn’t like that at all. There are all the buildings, sure, but there are all these trees just like in the movies, so the city changes with the seasons. I can’t believe how different it looks now that it’s Fall. It’s gorgeous and totally different from how it was in summer–almost like a new city!
And I thought it was the city that never sleeps but that hasn’t been my experience. Because I work during the day, it’s hard to find time to explore the city until evening most days. But by the time I get out, I have only a few hours until things start closing. For example, recently, I went to a concert at Madison Square Gardens and after the concert–it wasn’t even midnight yet–I was looking forward to seeing more but things were closing down. My friend tells me because of the pandemic lots of things changed so maybe that explains it.
I also expected it to be much cleaner than it is and the level of homelessness was a surprise.
You sound like you were surprised at how much nature the city has?
I really was. It’s so gorgeous. Right now Central Park and everywhere else is all yellow and orange everywhere. Just really pretty. I plan on taking pictures to show my mom how different it is now.
What is the one thing you would tell a newcomer to New York City to be prepared for?
I would say to be prepared to take a much longer time doing everything. I mean if you go outside planning on just spending an hour, you can walk into something so interesting that you end up spending 5 hours. So instead of just packing your phone and your wallet, make sure you carry a little backpack with water, your wallet, and any feminine care things you need because you may walk into something you’ve never seen before and end up spending a much longer time than you planned.
What has been your favorite memory of the unexpected that happened to you?
I was walking somewhere in Chelsea, I think, and saw a garden that looked interesting. So I entered this garden and was just walking along past these plants when out of nowhere a coffee shop appeared. The garden had a cute coffee shop at the very back and it was so unexpected!
Do you have any last words or advice for someone thinking of coliving in NYC and maybe moving into a Cohabs house?
Yes, I would say that they should think about the experience as not just coming here to live in New York, but to share a life with the people in the house. The people here all have dreams and families and they miss them and so the more we can see the experience as coming to share a life which may mean being supportive at times, the better.
Those were great last words. We hope you enjoyed reading about Giulia’s experience at Cohabs. Check out our NYC coliving spaces for yourself!