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You Make the Call: Leaving Williamsburg for Better Value in Brooklyn

You Make the Call: Leaving Williamsburg for Better Value in Brooklyn


Allie Conti and Dory Carr-Harris met at work, at Vice Media in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, nearly four years ago.

A year later, Ms. Conti moved from her tiny, almost kitchen-free apartment to Ms. Carr-Harris’s Williamsburg one-bedroom. The rent was in the low $2,000s.

The walk to their office took 10 minutes, “which was super-convenient, but also meant we were spending the majority of our time in a small part of New York,” Ms. Conti, 29, said. She is a senior staff writer at Vice; Ms. Carr-Harris, 33, is the executive editor.

[Did you recently buy or rent a home? We want to hear from you. Email: thehunt@nytimes.com]

They wanted a new and different neighborhood, and they especially wanted more room.

Their apartment had little closet space and even less drawer space. “I was stacking clothes on the floor of our bedroom,” Ms. Conti said. “We went through several iterations of trying to pare things down, but you can pare down only to a certain point.”

With no self-service laundromat within walking distance, they had to outsource their laundry. “We were held hostage by the local laundromat,” Ms. Conti said. “We would spend half the weekend waiting around for the laundry delivery people.”

Last winter, shortly after their wedding, they went looking for a two-bedroom apartment (with one bedroom to serve as a home office) in a classic brownstone, “the kind people think of when they think of New York City,” Ms. Conti said.

Laundry was important, as were closets. “We made multiple lists that we continually revised,” Ms. Carr-Harris said. “A dishwasher was a pipe dream.” So was outdoor space.

Ms. Conti wanted to move to Clinton Hill or Bedford-Stuyvesant, not far from Chilo’s, where she could indulge in her favorite food, duck tacos.

Their budget was around $3,000 a month, with a ceiling of $3,500. “I don’t think I had a really good grasp of what things cost,” Ms. Conti said.

A few early options near Chilo’s were small, expensive or dilapidated. So the couple expanded their geographic range. Parts of Bed-Stuy had beautiful apartments — at least they looked beautiful in listing photos — but there were no subways nearby, meaning a commute of up to an hour.

“We would find an apartment and rush to put it in Google Maps, and it was in a transit dead zone,” Ms. Conti said. “It is a stretch to go from walking to work to taking a bus to the train.”

Among their Brooklyn choices:

An apartment in a classic two-family brownstone had a fireplace in the living room and a good-size kitchen. It also had an odd layout: The bathroom, which had a beautiful claw-foot tub, was outside the unit. And the staircase to the top floor was shared with another apartment, so to come and go, they had to walk through someone else’s home.

“It’s New York — there’s always something weird,” Ms. Carr-Harris said.

The G train stop at Classon Avenue was about six blocks away. The rent was $3,000.

This apartment, found through the the Listings Project, was to start as a sublet, with the couple then signing their own lease. It had no laundry, and the nearest laundromat was four blocks away.

The unit, which had a small terrace in back, came partially furnished and “everything was well curated,” Ms. Conti said.

The G train stop at Bedford-Nostrand was three blocks away. The rent was $2,800.

This duplex was farther out in Brooklyn, in the eastern corner of Bed-Stuy. The bottom floor had a bathroom with a stacked washer-dryer and a deck off the kitchen, and the top floor had two bedrooms plus an office. It also had separate walk-in closets. “I didn’t even know that was a possibility,” Ms. Conti said.

The J train at Chauncey Street was a couple of blocks away, and the rent was a little out of their range, at $3,700.

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:



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