Winston lives in Victory Mansions, which despite its name is not a luxurious place.
Winston lives in a totalitarian society where Big Brother is watching his every move. Specifically, he lives in London, in Oceania. There are only three warring countries, and Oceania is always at war with Eurasia and Eastasia.
Winston’s apartment is in Victory Mansions, where the name is probably designed to make him feel like he is living in the lap of luxury when it is really a slum like apartment building. The hallway smells like boiled cabbage and rag mats, the elevator doesn’t work, the electricity is cut off by the government to celebrate Hate Week, and the décor is an enormous poster of Big Brother.
Winston is fortunate enough to have a window. He even has a television, sort of!
The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. … The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely. (Ch. 1)
The telescreen is Big Brother’s way of controlling the populace. They can watch everyone through it, and avail them of boring news statistics the rest of the time. Of course, outside of individual residences there are the helicopters and cameras to ensure that you are always watching the people. The Thought Police will make sure that everyone is kept in line, and under control.
One of the things the Thought Police would not want you to say is that Winston’s apartment is horrible. His building is terrible, it smells, and the elevator does not work. Clearly, things are not perfect here in Oceania. Of course, when you control what people think and say, and Big Brother is always watching, and children inform on their parents, no one is going to complain. Therefore where Winston lives—the decrepit nature of his building and the ironic nature of its name—is symptomatic of a larger problem.