Jenny Urizar and David Rowland unexpectedly found themselves in a long-distance relationship last year, when the pandemic forced them inside and off the subway. She was renting a 600-square-foot studio in a modern Chelsea high-rise for $3,000 a month, and he was seven miles north, in Harlem, paying $1,200 for his share in a two-bedroom in the Sugar Hill Historic District.
Tired of the separation, Mr. Rowland soon moved into Ms. Urizar’s place, where they could at least take Teddy the dachshund to the dog run in Madison Square Park. “Everyone was getting dogs at the time, so there were a lot of puppies,” said Ms. Urizar, who is from Miami and works in corporate philanthropy.
But the couple, both 40, quickly discovered that it was difficult to live and work in a single square room. “At one point, I was taking calls in the bathroom,” said Mr. Rowland, an editor at a scientific journal, who is from Chicago.
They needed a better division of space — “some kind of wall or door for some kind of separation and privacy,” Ms. Urizar said — so they went on the hunt for a new place together.
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She wanted a modern high-rise, preferably with an in-unit washer and dryer. “I am a fan of convenience, like a doorman and an elevator,” she said. “Dave is OK if there are air-conditioning issues.”
Mr. Rowland liked brownstone charm, although it often came with drawbacks in the apartments they saw. “The kitchen was really small, or it would feel musty, or there wasn’t enough light,” he said.
He wanted “an adult kitchen,” with counter space and new appliances, which was easier to find in a newer building.
The couple began looking months too early — long before they wanted to move — and were told to return when they were ready. Still, “that ended up being pretty productive,” Mr. Rowland said. “We would get a sense of what buildings we liked and then get back in touch with them.”
Their budget was up to $4,500 a month, after factoring in the months of free rent on offer. They considered upsizing within their current Chelsea building, managed by Equity Residential, but deals were for new tenants only, not for existing ones. “The same unit one floor above me was $500 less,” Ms. Urizar said. So they focused on modern buildings in central areas of Manhattan.
Among their options:
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