From Kips Bay to the UES: I bought a studio because asking rents were too high

  • She previously shared a three-bedroom flex with two roommates, where she paid $1,900 for the flex space
  • Her $410,000 co-op apartment is renovated, with a brand-new kitchen, bathroom, and flooring
By Kelly Kreth  |
April 5, 2024 - 10:30AM
Allie Rose

Allie Rose outside her Upper East Side co-op building, where she landed a recently renovated studio.

When Allie Rose’s lease ended and her roommates moved in with their significant others, it was time to look for her own place. Discouraged by high rents, she pivoted to buying instead, landing in a newly renovated studio co-op. She’s happy to report the Upper East Side is not as remote or sleepy as its reputation suggests. Here’s her story, as told to Kelly Kreth.

I was born and raised in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. I moved to New York City in April 2021. I had been living with my parents during the pandemic and was ready to move once world started to reopen. I knew I always wanted to live in NYC and thanks to the ability to work from home, I was able to move and still keep my job in Philly! I am a retention marketing manager for Dolce Vita, a footwear design company owned by Steve Madden.

I moved to Kips Bay with two girlfriends from college—Syracuse University. We lived in a doorman building on 29th and Third. It was a two-bedroom that we turned into three bedrooms. I occupied the flex room and paid around $1,900 and our total rent was $6,500. Our building had a gym and a roof deck, amenities included in our first year of rent. After that, we had to pay extra. Laundry was on the first floor, so it was super easy. You could use your phone to load money and check to see if washers and dryers were available.

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

I loved that the building was brand new. It is also a great location for someone young and new to NYC. I was within walking distance of a bunch of my college friends. Trader Joe’s was just two blocks away and there was a Target on my block. I liked that I could get Downtown and Uptown so easily, thanks to the nearby 6 line, and I could easily walk to work.

I disliked how it felt like a college campus and I eventually outgrew the area. The restaurants there seemed less sophisticated than those in other parts of the city. I did enjoy some classic casual spots: Ruby's, Tal Bagel's, Sarge's Deli, and Bagel Express III. The bars on Third Avenue were crowded with recent college grads—not my scene—so I went to bars and restaurants Downtown. 

Wanted: A good deal on a studio co-op

My lease was up in October, so I started looking in late August for a new place to live. Because my roommates were moving in with their boyfriends, I knew I had to find my own space.  I looked at studio rentals Downtown but they were extremely expensive and all had big broker fees. Some were walkups and didn’t even have a doorman. My parents suggested I buy something instead and I knew it was the right move.

I saw about 20 apartments, mostly in Gramercy and Chelsea, and they were awful. My parents thought I would get a better deal on the Upper East Side and I followed their advice. I found my apartment after about a month of searching with the help of Kunal Khemlani, an agent at Corcoran.

I saw the listing on his firm’s site—it was listed for $420,000 and I ended up paying $410,000. Maintenance is $900. The apartment was very well renovated, with a brand-new kitchen, bathroom, and flooring.

Lessons learned buying a co-op

The buying process was very, very long. I recommend using an experienced broker because there are a lot of details involved. It’s also important to understand the building’s financials, subletting policy, and know if there are any upcoming projects planned for the building.

The application process was like applying to colleges and required multiple reference letters. The biggest challenge was the wait: I had to wait to get approval from the co-op board and schedule the interview. After the interview, I had to wait for them to accept me, which took a few days. It was all very stressful but worth it in the end. Patience is a virtue!

How she likes her new place

I like the building’s renovated hallways, super-friendly doormen/staff, and that my place is fully updated. It’s a small but a perfect-sized studio for someone like me. 

The laundry room isn’t very modern—there’s no Bluetooth or app and the cards only accept $10 bills, which can be annoying at times. Still, I’m not complaining about the brand-new washer and dryers and a quiet laundry room.

What she loves about her new nabe

I feel super safe on the Upper East Side and there are many families and dogs, which I like. Some favorite bars and restaurants in the area include JG Melon, Three Guys, Scalinatella, B&B Bagels, Butterfield Market, The Mark Hotel, Bemelmans Bar, Brandy's Piano Bar, and The Stumble Inn.  

For groceries, there are a lot of choices, like Grace’s Marketplace, which is a little bit on the expensive end, so I usually go to the Trader Joe’s on 59th and First Avenue. There is also a Morton William’s nearby and a new place, Ouri's Market. I don't do much ordering in, but if I want to pick up sushi, I go to Ko Sushi right on 70th and 2nd.

I love being close to the stores on Madison Avenue, and near Central Park and transportation options. The 6 is nearby and the Q is right outside of my building. I take the 6 and walk just 10 minutes to the office. Door to door, it takes only 25 minutes total. In the warmer weather I can walk.

I have a few friends in the building and have some family nearby, which is amazing. I am always looking to make new friends. It is a bit hard being social with people who are in couples, but I’m actively dating as well.

One important revelation: the UES has this stigma that it's soooo far and sleepy. It’s not!

Parents give it a five-star review

Moving to the Upper East Side was a great idea. I love it and can still go Downtown so I don’t miss anything. Owning sure beats renting—I pay less each month than if I was renting a new place and I can build equity! 

I have no plans to ever move from this place. My family agrees. They love how new it is. My parents even stayed in my apartment when I was out of town and raved about it.



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.