27-year-old pays $1,850 to live in a former NYC laundromat

While Sampson Dahl’s ex-girlfriend thinks the old laundromat he’s seeing as a potential new apartment is “disgusting,” he sees the potential for a great live workspace. . He moved in a month later.

Dahl told CNBC Make It: “I don’t think a space needs to be a perfect representation of what we hope for in a simple mind. “I think a space should be an imperfect representation of the people who were in it at that point in their lives.”

The 27-year-old production designer is no stranger to living in commercial spaces; he used to live in a warehouse in Chicago, so he knew that when he went apartment hunting, he wanted to repeat the experience.

“I like the freedom of a commercial space, although there are certainly less tenant rights,” he said. “There’s something more ethical about moving into an empty storefront that’s been vacant for years than renting an apartment in some neighborhood you’re not familiar with.”

Dahl found the former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens, in an online forum in 2019 and has lived there since.

Mickey Todiwala. CNBC Make It’s photo

Dahl found the old laundromat in Maspeth, Queens, in an online forum in 2019. A previous tenant added a kitchenette that gave Dahl enough space to house the sink, stove and oven. bake. The laundromat has been inactive since 2005.

When he first moved in in March 2019, the rent was $1750 and he paid two months’ rent in advance and $875 in security deposit. In 2021, his rent has grown to $1850 and he’s paying $120 for electricity and $60 for internet on average.

Dahl works as a production designer, and one of the perks of the job is getting a lot of free furniture once the projects are done, so he uses them to decorate the space.

“This space allows some [my] “Although technically most things are trash and a lot of it is free, I try to organize them in a way that feels most comfortable to me,” says Dahl.

Dahl slept in a loft bed that cost $25 to make.

Mickey Todiwala. CNBC Make It’s photo

For Dahl, his favorite thing about living at the old laundromat is the sense of community he gets from the neighbors because it reminds him of his childhood. The 27-year-old grew up in a Texas commune that he describes as “non-sectarian”. [but] a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides disaster relief and outreach to the homeless.”

“I think really formed this kind of open door policy that I have had and maintained my adult life. That’s how my mother has always lived,” he said.

It is because of that philosophy that Dahl has made his living space open to everyone. He even has a fridge and communal swing out the front. That sense of community proved essential for Dahl, especially after he was robbed in the neighborhood a few months ago.

“People care about me more than I care about myself, and it’s a real community. I knew the real community as a child and now I know it again,” he said.

Dahl’s space is divided into different zones like “song composition” and “piano” as it is seen as a place where creative works can come together.

Mickey Todiwala. CNBC Make It’s photo

Although Dahl loves the space he creates, which includes a writing station and organ, he says he only lives there because that’s what he can afford right now, but he hopes to move out and continue to be a collaborative studio space.

“It will just be an open shop for anyone who wants to come and learn to draw or continue to draw or learn to record a song or continue a song. It is for beginners and those who are already passionate. what they do,” Dahl said.

“Living in the storefront has taught me to be resourceful in a way I’ve never known before. I really can’t be too picky about what happens to me; I just have to do my best. And that’s it. the greatest skill I could ask for, he added.

“It’s not something I can teach myself; it’s something you can only learn from life. It really aligns with the philosophy I have.”

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