In defense of the $700,000 Manhattan one-bedroom

By Tracy Kaler  | February 24, 2016 - 12:30PM

This article was first posted in 2012. It all still rings true.

Dear Online Haters,

An article I once wrote here on Brick Underground, about my 150-plus apartment search, which ended with me buying a $700k one-bedroom on the Upper West Side, sure stirred some ire when it was reposted on Business Insider. Commenters accused me of being an "indecisive nut job" and way overpaying to live in a "s---hole."

It’s obvious that the angriest among you know nothing about New York real estate, the endless options available, or the time it takes to scour the city for the appropriate apartment match.

You don’t realize that it may be easier to find a mate in a city of eight million than it is the right co-op to call home (and dating is no easy feat!). 

My husband and I researched the listings and attended open houses every Sunday, in the same way many other apartment-buying candidates do in NYC.

Maybe I looked at too many listings, or maybe attending open houses each week for a year was overkill. But I can tell you that I have no regrets about the purchase of my Upper West Side one-bedroom.

Now, onto you, "Happy Donkey," and your opinion that New York is a “s--hole” and I’m crazy for spending $700K on an 825-square-foot apartment. I beg to differ, and so do the other 40 million people that visit NYC each year.

No, I don’t have deer (or deer ticks btw!), foxes, and hawks in my back yard. Instead, my "back yard" is Riverside Park, which overlooks the Hudson River... and I'm just 10 minutes from Central Park, arguably the greatest park in the country.

No, I don’t have a basement to store loads of unnecessary crap that will one day be sold in a yard sale. Instead, I live simply and with less — but still much more than I really need — and somehow it all manages to fit comfortably into my 825-square-foot space.

I may pay a higher mortgage and monthly fee than other co-op or condo owners around the country, but along with the steeper costs of living in New York comes the world outside my door.

Bottom line: I’d rather spend $700,000 to live in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan than a mansion anywhere else.

I've lived in Manhattan for five years, and I can’t imagine living elsewhere. If I couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan, then I’d live in Brooklyn, Queens or somewhere more affordable with easy access to Manhattan. I’ve lived in and visited other major cities, and city living doesn’t get any better than here.

Here's why:

1. The ambition and opportunity—NYC is for the best of the best

Anyone can come to this city with a dream, work hard, and live that dream. For decades, people from all over the country and all over the world have come to New York to experience the life, and to grab a slice of it—no matter how small.

As a result, New York City has the best of the best in all areas—business, arts, finance, food, entertainment, fashion, and the list goes on. Like the majority of New Yorkers, I strive to be the best that I can be. I find that when I surround myself with the best I do better.

2. The balance—work hard, play hard

People work harder in this city than in any other place I’ve ever lived in or visited. From a bartender in the neighborhood pub to the aspiring actress in an Off-Broadway show, to the investment banker ... no matter the occupation or the paycheck, New Yorkers are focused, but they also know how to let loose and have a great time when not working.

3. Buying real estate in NYC is a great investment

Sadly, while many areas of the country are have experienced foreclosure or have plummeting home values due to the recession, my apartment has continued to increase in value since I bought it 7 years ago.

I paid $695,000 for mine, and comparable apartments now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

4. So many choices

Life is about choices, and there’s no place with a greater amount of options than NYC. From restaurants, to nightlife, to arts and culture, to grocery stores, to street vendors, to shopping, to neighborhoods, to job opportunities, to people, New York offers more of everything than any place else.
Who wouldn't love Riverside Park?

5. Easy living

I can shop at the Apple Store at 3 a.m., get a steak delivered at midnight, hit the streets at 6 a.m. and life is happening all over the city. I can walk to the grocery store in less than three minutes, the drug store is two minutes away, the bagel shop another two minutes, and the wine store is five minutes away.

What I can’t carry, I can get delivered. I can walk to Central Park in less than 10 minutes, and Riverside Park in less than three.

I can hop on the subway, which is also a three-minute walk from my apartment, and I can be most anywhere in Manhattan within 40 minutes or less. I have no traffic and no high gas prices to deal with.

A ride on the subway costs me $2.75 each way, and it often comes with free live musical entertainment in the station or on the train. And on top of it, I’m reducing my carbon footprint.

6. The active lifestyle

While much of America is sitting in traffic and leading a sedentary lifestyle, my life is active. I get exercise while doing daily activities like running to the grocery store and meeting a friend for dinner. I walk miles each week just living life, and I’m healthier for it.

7. Diversity

New York is one of the most diverse and racially integrated cities in the world. With that diversity comes acceptance and an environment where people can flourish and be who they aspire to be without judgment.

It’s a place where all kinds of people blend together. New York is not a Mecca for any one nationality, race, background, sexual orientation, or political party. New York City is a city for all.

8. No bulls--t attitude, but the friendliest people anywhere

I love the straight-shooting attitude of New Yorkers. I always know where I stand. In my opinion, the no BS way of living and communicating is the only way. It beats someone pretending to like me and then stabbing me in the back the first chance they get.

Matter-of-factness isn't to be confused with rudeness. Even though New Yorkers get a bum rap, they are hands down the friendliest people anywhere. I’ve fallen on the street in Manhattan, and in seconds, someone rushed over to pick me up.

9. Location,  Location,  Location

I have it all, and it's close by. On top of a great urban lifestyle, we're less than two hours from some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, Bucks County, and the Catskill Mountains.

We are in close proximity to other sought-after vacation spots like Coastal Connecticut, the Berkshires, the Finger Lakes, Nantucket, and Cape Cod. 

10. The positive energy

Every time I walk on the streets of New York City, I feel an energy that I’ve never felt anywhere. I feel like I can be myself and accomplish anything I set out to do. And to me, that’s priceless.

Thanks for your concern,


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