Landing a One-Bedroom, With a Little Help From Her Friends

$1,500 | Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Occupation: Ms. McAllister writes nonfiction books and a blog on hymns. Now retired, she was the music director and organist at the Park Slope United Methodist Church and a piano teacher.
Rent includes: Wi-Fi cable. “I’d never had cable before in my life!” Ms. McAllister said.
Stoop finds from “lucky garbage nights”: “People get rid of beautiful, beautiful things. I got all my furniture that way.”
Lights around the fireplace: When it comes to decoration, Ms. McAllister loves “lights, stars, little magical things like that.”
Prepandemic: “I love living alone; I’m never bored or lonely. But I used to go out a lot,” she said. “Sometimes with friends, but often alone. I enjoyed getting into conversations with tourists, panhandlers, street musicians, subway riders and other strangers.

The new place was a lot smaller than her old apartment, but she had started finding new homes for her possessions months earlier, when her landlord gave her notice.

“Over the years, things just reproduced in there,” she said. “I got rid of 1,500 books and kept 1,500 books. I read the Marie Kondo book. I found one thing helpful: Instead of looking at what do I have to get rid of, what do I want to take with me? It’s a very different mentality.”

She brought furniture that made sense in the new space, including her kitchen table and chairs, bought at the church thrift shop years earlier, for the pretty eat-in kitchen with green walls.

Her piano, which she has had since childhood in western New York, came, too. She retired from her position at the church last spring, when she realized that they would be singing remotely for at least a year, but she still plays her piano every evening after watching “Jeopardy!” Mostly “show tunes, old 1940s songs, jazz — it depends on my mood,” she said.