NYC family lives in 12 neighborhoods in 12 months

- Christina Horsten and Felix Zeltner feel right at home in the St. George section of Staten Island – at least for the next few days. It is one of 12 neighborhoods the couple and their 2-year-old daughter have lived in over the past 12 months as part of a sort of social experiment to experience the vastly different sights, sounds, flavors and personalities that New York City has to offer.

NYC 12 X 12 came to be last year when the family was priced out of a Park Slope apartment.

The inspiration was really just love of New York City," Christina said. "We started thinking about all these neighborhoods and we realized we wanted to go to all of them."

What started as a far-flung idea became reality. The family got rid of most of their belongings and got on their way. First stop: long island city.

"We knew we wanted to go to all five boroughs," Felix said. "That was the only plan from the beginning."

The couple expected finding apartments to be easy thanks to sites like Airbnb and Craigslist but they ended up struggling to find places that fit their budget and needs.

"The logistics, I think, were way more challenging than we would have ever expected," Christina said.

As a result, availability ended up dictating many of the neighborhoods the family stayed in.

"We went to Chinatown, then we went to Harlem, then we went to Williamsburg," Christina said.

Apartments in DUMBO, Washington Heights, and the Mott Haven section of the Bronx were also temporary homes. It is tough for them to pick a favorite.

"It was hard for me personally to leave every neighborhood," Felix said. "Like, every neighborhood in the end was like, 'Damn why do we have to go?'"

In addition to checking out local restaurants, parks and landmarks, the couple made a point of hosting a dinner party in each neighborhood with people they met along the way.

"What was surprising to me and exciting was that these people actually show up because they want to talk about their neighborhood," Felix said. "And they maybe also want to get a free dinner and share their stories with us."

At times the constant moving was exhausting.

"There were times when we were like, 'Why did we think this was a good idea?'" Christina said.

But the next day, a new adventure or discovery would remind them why.

"It's just so different if you wake up in a neighborhood and you go get your morning coffee and you see like just today in Staten Island I went to this great coffee shop down there and I just saw the people, I saw they all kind of knew each other, they're all regulars," Christina said. "And you just start talking to them and you just get a completely different feeling for a neighborhood."

"It was not only the apartments, I think, that we found – it was the people behind them and the stories behind them," Felix said. "We lived with designers, with librarians, with artists. It was an amazing year because of them."

Even after the 12 months ends the couple will continue to relive the highlights. Christina and Felix are in talks to write a book and produce a podcast about their experiences.

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