Though Ms. Sealy had been contributing $1,200 a month, which went toward living and household expenses, by mid-2022 she had saved enough money to move into her own place. That May she started searching the web for an apartment, reached out to rental brokers, and navigated through the reality of upfront costs. Ms. Sealy was prepared for moving fees, “but application fees, which were sometimes $300, add up if you’re applying for many different apartments,” she said. “Then there’s first and last month’s rent, a deposit, and broker’s fee, which is 15 to 20 percent of the price of your annual rent. That’s like $10,000 before you move.”
The inability to have those funds available had prevented her from moving into many places, until now.
“I’m owning furniture for the first time in my life. I love interior design and the ability to decide how and where everything is going to go,” she said, adding that most of the furnishings have come from Wayfair, Target, Ikea and Facebook Marketplace. “Except for a huge, beautiful abstract painting of a woman, which I found on the street next door to Daniel Craig’s house,” she explained, referring to the actor who has played James Bond in five “007” films, among other roles. “I don’t know who the artist is, or who it belonged to, but it goes perfectly with my new green couch.”
Aside from famous neighbors and treasures found on the street, Ms. Sealy appreciates her apartment’s huge windows that face east and west allowing her to watch the sun rise and set. She also said that the large, open space and long hallway offers the ability to create distinct sections for her work and personal lives. “I’ve never had a separate work-space for a home office that is physically in another location. To sleep in one room and go to another location helps you compartmentalize your life.”
Most days, Ms. Sealy is home coaching over Zoom, singing and composing and playing her digital piano.
“I don’t have to go to a studio to play or record, I can do all of that here,” she said. “It’s so basic, but having your own place is so incredibly powerful. I really feel like I’m making it for the first time.”