From Greenpoint to Sunnyside: After sublets and apartment shares, I wanted the security of owning a place

  • He bought a 400-square-foot studio in a co-op building for $241,500
By Kelly Kreth  |
May 3, 2024 - 10:00AM
Matthew Sloane

"It’s great to own a place, build equity, and be invested in where you live. It’s also nice to not have a lease anymore," Sloane said.

Matthew Sloane lived in sublets and apartment shares in Brooklyn before deciding it was time to buy a place of his own. He found Sunnyside appealing and landed a studio in a co-op building. He’s enjoying his quiet neighborhood and the security of living affordably. Here’s his story as told to Kelly Kreth.

I was born and raised in Patchogue, New York, and I knew suburban Long Island life wasn’t for me. Ever.

I didn't like how far Long Island was from New York City and how little there was to do in the suburbs compared to the city. As an adult, I spent most of my weekends in the city and decided to move there to be closer to friends.

I moved to Brooklyn in September 2013 and bounced from one sublet to another, including one in Sunnyside, where I tried to make a relationship work during the pandemic. (Spoiler: It didn’t.)

[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.]

For a while I was living in Greenpoint in a rental with two other random roommates. I found the three-bedroom apartment on and my share was $1,400 a month. There was an in-unit washer and dryer, which is kind of a game changer in NYC, and a nice balcony.

Then I moved to a Sunnyside sublet for a short time. Most of the furnishings belonged to the renter I was subletting from, so it was kind of cramped but still a nice place. The super was responsive, which was key since the place had leaky ceilings.

Sunnyside is an area in transition. It has a few nice features, like an easy commute to Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, and other parts of the city, as well as authentic restaurants. However, the area around the elevated 7 train is kind of harsh and there is a lack of green space.

I’m an urban planning consultant and the commute from my Greenpoint share and then my Sunnyside sublet was about 35 minutes door-to-door.

At that point, I still spent a lot of time back in Greenpoint at my ex-girlfriend’s place, but I also would occasionally grab a drink or food at Maggie May’s and Ida’s Nearabout, and occasionally watch the Knicks flounder at 43 Bar and Grill. There are plenty of pub-style bars but because I’ve been sober for the last few months I go out less.

I am notorious among my friends for ordering pizza or food from local bodegas (chopped cheese for life!) and using meal kit subscriptions.

I also begrudgingly started going to the gym regularly around this time, heading to the New York Sports Club at 39th Street and Queens Boulevard.

I always dropped off my laundry at a local place. I've been doing my own laundry since elementary school, so having the money to pay someone else to do it feels like a luxury. 

Wanted: An affordable co-op in Sunnyside

I knew I liked Sunnyside and last summer I decided I wanted to buy and start building equity. Sunnyside is mostly co-ops and they’re relatively affordable compared to other parts of the city.

Kunal Khemlani, an agent at Corcoran, helped me find a place. It all happened very quickly: I viewed four apartments and made an offer on a studio listed for $250,000 and was in contract a couple of weeks later. I ended up paying $241,500 for my place, which is about 400 square feet. I pay $470 a month in maintenance.

Even though my offer was accepted quickly, it took a while to get an interview with the co-op board. They moved at their own pace. Since it was summertime, scheduling was tough. I made sure my paperwork was together so everything could be as seamless as possible when the interview was finally scheduled and it was smooth sailing from that point. From acceptance to closing probably took about three to four months.

My building is part of a seven-building complex with about 450 units. The building has laundry, which is a nice amenity. 

What he loves about his new nabe

This part of eastern Sunnyside is quiet and residential. Across the street is Lawrence Virgilio Playground, and it’s a short walk to Skillman Avenue, where there are a bunch of bars and restaurants and what feels like Sunnyside’s only green spaces.

I like to meditate in the early morning at the park across the street and grab a bite at The Skillman or Copper Kettle.

There is a BJ’s Wholesale across the train tracks to the north, where groceries are exceptionally cheap. I don’t order in as much now, but there’s a decent pizza place around the corner (Donato’s Pizzeria) where I inevitably grab a slice from once or twice a week.

The area is mostly quiet. While I still love to go out and socialize (even sober) there isn’t a lot of late-night life activity here. Most of the tenants in the building are a bit older and sensitive about noise. Plus, because it is a co-op building, there are a lot of rules about subletting and renovations, for example. It’s kind of like an urban HOA, but I haven’t had any real problems so far.

I take the 7 train from 52nd Street to the Bryant Park stop, and door to door it’s a 35–40-minute commute. Not having to transfer is a real blessing. However, the 7 train is often suspended on the weekend and that’s a big headache.

Why he appreciates owning instead of renting

Buying instead of renting again was a great idea. It’s great to own a place, build equity, and be invested in where you live. It’s also nice to not have a lease anymore.

I’ve had some friends come over. They dig it and they’re super pumped for me becoming an owner. I ran into an old friend from grad school at a local gym recently. We’ve caught up in the neighborhood a couple times and it’s nice to have a familiar face here. I also fall in love with every dog I see.

After a decade-long dating spree, I’m on a hiatus from relationships. The whole enterprise is exhausting. Still, I can’t help but wonder how impressed women will be when I fold my Murphy bed out of the wall. I can’t tell if that’s sexy or not.

I will stay for the immediate future. I like to live small, so a studio is ideal for me. Eventually I’d like to use my equity to finance a getaway in the Hudson Valley and split time between here and there. But I don’t plan one being anywhere else for at least five or so years while I plot larger life moves with the security of a relatively affordable mortgage.



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.