A New Little House in the City

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This post is now long overdue: Back in April, my husband and I said goodbye to our little house in Fort Greene. In a quest for a more space, we decided to sell our apartment and look for someplace else to live.

Our search for a two bedroom in Brooklyn was discouraging to say the least. I usually think that the New York Times’ real estate section is full of exaggerated tales of the state of the city’s market, but we encountered the shockingly tight market first-hand. We’d go to an open house for an apartment that I felt was a bit overpriced, thinking perhaps we could get the seller to come down a little on the asking price. Boy, was I wrong. We’d usually find twenty other couples at an open house (often with a visibly pregnant woman as half of the couple). I wouldn’t have been surprised, if someone had offered a broker a suitcase full of cash on the spot—that’s how crazy it was.

So, we expanded our search to look at large one-bedroom apartments that could be converted to two. We expanded our price limit, stretching our budget just a little further. We explored neighborhoods we’d never visited before. We debated the merits of a nearby co-op complex with affordable apartments that come with high maintenance and a 10% flip tax, making them incredibly difficult to sell. Each day, I eagerly opened email alerts for a new listing. And finally, we gave up.

We decided to rent for a little while and see what happens with the market—and I am so glad that we did. Even if the market goes up, up, up, I could never have felt good about spending so much on so little. (For those of you outside of New York, as of this writing a small-ish two bedroom with one bath in Fort Greene will run you a minimum of $650,000!)

We were very lucky to find an affordable rental in Clinton Hill, the next neighborhood over from Fort Greene. It’s the top floor of a brownstone, and we’re calling it a 1.5 bedroom (there’s a small room off the bedroom that my husband is now using as his office).

It was bittersweet to leave our old place behind, but it was time to move on. I’d lived there since the fall of 2006, which was the longest I had lived anywhere other than my childhood home. They were full, wonderful years. I lived in that apartment through all of my years as a freelance writer (I now have a full-time job), so it was a place that I spent most of my time. We celebrated many birthdays and holidays in that apartment, including my first Thanksgiving that I cooked by myself and an epic birthday bash for my sister and my husband. That apartment was where my husband and I first lived together. It was also where he asked me to marry him, and where we lived our first few years of marriage.

We also loved the neighborhood. My sister lived just a block away for several years and then later four blocks away. My husband’s brother and his wife and daughter moved in a block away in the other direction. Many of my friends from college were all within a few blocks.

But, as I said, it was time to move on. We have found that we actually like the new neighborhood more than the old. Our new apartment is also so quiet and it feels like we’re living in a tree house with all the green leaves right outside our window. Our friends and family are still close, and the walk to see them is a nice one.

We’re still moving in, but I’ll post some pictures of the new place soon.



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