In a few hours, we’ll be doing a walk through with the movers. As more of the apartment is cleared out, it feels surreal.

I prayed for this moment for 9 years. Within the first year living on Long Island, my health started to decline. I fainted for the first time in twenty years. The stress virus, Epstein Barr, reared it’s energy-draining head again. Doctors kept telling me “you have to get this virus under control.” How, when my mind and body are bombarded with unreasonable levels of stress every day?

Looking for a hotel to book for our final days, I read reviews with a heavy heart. Post after post shocked visitors wrote: people are so rude here! Staff don’t care! Rooms have mold! No sleep, people partying all night! Bed bugs! Dirty! Stayed at this chain in other places and never had such a horrible experience as this one on Long Island! Didn’t get money back I’m owed!

I finally found a hotel with great reviews. Expect to pay a lot for kind hospitality here. Everything on Long Island comes with a price.

It’s validating knowing we haven’t been alone with our horrible experience here. The shabby hotels reflect the housing crisis that has been ongoing for decades, and nothing is done about it. We moved three times while living here.

Ice growing on the inside window.

The first rental had an ancient broken heating system. That was torture during long, frigid Northeast winters. Ice grew on the inside of the window. Dysautonomia started to become disabling.

Mold growing in the toilet in our bedroom bathroom.

The second rental ended up having such a bad mold issue, we both got sick and I needed a nebulizer to breathe. My hair was falling out in clumps. I had continual rashes and hives. I started reacting to foods I never had a problem with before.

I started gaining weight shortly after moving in. When we took a weekend getaway, the weight disappeared. Returning to the musty house, the weight returned.

When we moved out, I had gained 50lbs while barely eating due to all the food reactions. I hadn’t gained more than 10lbs in my entire life, I was more prone to being underweight (thanks, 23andme for letting me know that’s my genetic norm when some would judge me as “too skinny.”)

Witnessing my body blow up and my face change so quickly was frightening.

Black mold growing on the wall behind our bed.

Mold emits mycotoxins and this is what makes people sick. We bought a mold test kit and learned the type of mold growing in the house and surrounding woods was the same mold that showed up as an allergen on my lab test. Also the same mold known to flare up asthma.

We desperately searched other rentals. With the average home costing half a million dollars and average property taxes $10,000 a year, buying was not an option for us. Every rental we found smelled musty, was way too small or way too expensive.

Finally, the worker the landlord hired to fix things in the moldy home referred us to a rental that wasn’t publicly listed. He said the landlord was neglecting the home we were living in, and he felt bad for us.

The kindness of strangers.

Long Island is heavy on favoritism, if you have an “in” you have a better chance of getting decent jobs and homes. Otherwise, the rat race is intense and it’s rare, in our experience, that anyone in the service industry actually enjoys helping people here. There is a ton of greed, ego, attitude and burn out. Money talks louder than reputation or credentials.

Shortly after we moved, we found out the moldy rental was an illegal. We reported the property to the town. We bet the cheap old landlord wasn’t happy about the fine he’d have to pay.

The renovated third rental, a small one bedroom apartment that had been referred to us, started off with a squeak: mice!

That’s when learned we had yet another neglectful tyrant landlord.

The building also had extremely thin walls and we were surrounded by partying neighbors. The rent ate half our income while our trust fund kid neighbors worked a few days from home, and had plenty of carefree time to party. The sleep deprivation has been unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Long Islanders are loud. And very expressive. Yelling and stomping floors to express joy is their volume.

You may find Jersey Shore fun to watch. But would you want to live with those characters?

I love NYC. This is me in one of my fav neighborhoods. It will always be home in my heart.

I had better housing when I lived in Manhattan. I wish we could have lived there instead, but Ryan’s job landed us on Long Island and as some of you may understand, if you ever experienced a limited, overpriced housing market plus an enormous amount of medical debt, we got stuck.

It took Ryan a while to feel confident facing conflict and confrontation, he’s a pro now. But for many years, a native New Yorker, I fought the landlord battles. The result: a few victories and the reputation of being an intimidating boss bitch. So be it. At least we got our security monies back. With the first rental, I had to threaten reporting the landlord to authorities and the local paper. He was a lawyer and backed down.

Don’t mess with a New York girl who is fed up with corruption is all I can say. I am a nice person and sweet as pie, but I’m also a fierce fighter when I need to be. 🥊 ♊️

During the many years we lived here, we reached out to a bunch of lawyers for counsel. Renters have rights, correct? We were told that it’s so hard to sue on Long Island that some lawyers relocated their practice to other places. We were also told unless I was in the hospital with documented permanent lung damage, there was nothing we could do about losing years of health and income to mold exposure, even though recovering from mold sickness could take a long time. Even if the rental was an illegal.

As far as neighborly noise, lawyers told us to call the town. The town told us to call the police. The police told us to call management. Management told us to call the police. It went round and round in circles, and nothing was done.

So when the doctors said, “You have to get this stress virus under control” followed by “what do you do for fun here?” My answer was survive. I survive here.

(That’s why I named my blog Surviving Long Island).

When in survival mode, the body cannot heal. I know because ironically, this was my specialty in yoga therapy. Relaxation techniques help the body cope, but if you have any kind of illness, you need peace on the homefront to get well.

The most stressful lesson I’ve learned in life so far is how important safe and sound housing is. Even if you don’t live in the best part of town, if you can create Heaven inside your home that is what matters. Hang your wind chimes. Put out your bird feeders. Enjoy the silence when you have it. Invest love and care into your home. Fix the little things so they don’t become big things.

Make your home a sanctuary and your health will thank you.

I was able to do this in the majority of homes I’ve lived in, both rentals and purchased properties. After creating a sanctuary at home, I was able to create so much more in the outer world.

Sometimes prayers take a decade to be answered but it’s worth the wait to slide into the best opportunity possible.

Onward to creating a sanctuary in our new home. I am beyond excited! I’ll share more from this new adventure soon.

With love,

Lauralyn