The Newcomers

Why we moved to NYC from Pittsburgh: For our careers—and to give up car culture

By Kelly Kreth | August 12, 2022 - 9:30AM

Newcomers Olivia and Anthony love taking their dog to Riverside Park. "It feels like a little escape from the hustle and bustle of our neighborhood," Olivia says. 

Stock photo by Boogich

When Anthony and Olivia decided to move to NYC for Anthony’s job opportunity, they were initially stumped by the competitive rental market. But they ended up landing a great Upper West Side apartment with an amenity they now love: a doorman! Here’s their story.

I grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Anthony grew up in Pittsburgh, which is where I moved about eight years ago to attend college.

That's where we were living most recently though not together. I was sharing a place with two friends and Anthony was living with his brother and cousin—both of us in three-bedroom houses.

The houses were similar in that the living room, dining room, and kitchen were on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second and third floors. They also had laundry machines and outdoor spaces. We each paid one-third of the total $1,600 monthly rent.

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series The Newcomers features first-person accounts about why a renter or buyer decided to take a chance on NYC and live here now. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

I liked that I had outdoor space; it wasn’t much but enough for my dog to at least get some fresh air. Because it had been recently renovated, my house had new appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer). It didn’t get much natural light though.

Anthony liked that his house was large enough for everyone to have their own space. He also enjoyed having a little bit of a yard/garden.

What we disliked most about both houses, which were owned by individuals rather than a management company, was how hard it was getting any maintenance done.

Different neighborhoods—one quiet, the other happening

My house is in a quiet residential neighborhood called Mt. Washington, which is nice but doesn't have many restaurants or retail stores. Anthony was in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that has recently seen a resurgence, with lots of cool restaurants and shops within walking distance—a big plus because parking in the area is a nightmare. 

We loved to go out together and try new restaurants. Some of our favorite places include The Eagle, Gi Jin, Bonfire food and drink, and especially The Warren.

We owned cars and drove 10 to 15 minutes to work (though I often worked from home). We also lived near the bus routes, and I was near the T (Pittsburgh’s subway).

The closest grocery stores were about a 10-minute drive away, or we would have our groceries delivered. There are plenty of good take-out places but delivery fees in Pittsburgh are expensive.

Why they moved—and how the apartment search went

Anthony is a budding chef who worked in NYC several years ago but left to take a job in California. I opted to go with him since I work remotely in sales. But we returned to Pittsburgh when Covid hit to ride out the pandemic—he wanted to be close to his family. And we really wanted to be in NYC, so this enabled us to try and make this happen.

When he received a job offer in November 2021 (as executive sous chef of Mel's Pizzeria in Chelsea), we immediately decided to move but didn’t start looking for apartments until January.

Literally everything about renting in the two different cities is different! It’s so much more relaxed in Pittsburgh—I just used the apps (Zillow, Craigslist) and was able to find an apartment on my own within a few weeks, and without having to provide a lot of paperwork.

We started off the same way by looking at online listings for NYC and were connected to a few different agents—some more helpful than others. Eventually we worked with Veltrica Jean-Baptiste, then an agent at Keller Williams New York (she now works out of KW Philadelphia while still being based in NYC), who walked us through the whole process.

Wanted: A one bedroom for less than $3,000

We were looking for a one-bedroom apartment that had enough space for a desk where I could work from home (selling human resources/payroll services to small businesses). We were pretty set on finding a place on the Upper West Side but were open to looking on the Upper East Side as well. And we wanted to keep the monthly rent under $3,000.

We saw more than 10 properties before finding (finally, in March!) the apartment we ended up taking. It's a one bedroom on the Upper West Side that rents for $2,800 a month. The building has a 24-hour doorman/elevator attendant and laundry machines.

We love the beautiful details and character of our prewar building. It’s also very well maintained.

Having a doorman wasn’t on our list of priorities but we are so glad we have that amenity. Doing laundry is a bit more of a hassle because we were both used to having our own washer/dryer. So we've gotten in the habit of sending our laundry out.

What they like (and don't like) about the neighborhood

The new nabe is great! Although it’s quiet and we feel younger than most people in the area, everything we need (grocery stores, restaurants, parks) is within walking distance. It's also convenient for getting to other parts of NYC by subway—Anthony's commute is about 30 minutes. We sold our cars before moving here so access to transportation is key.

We love the nearby parks—Riverside Park especially. We take our dog there every single day. It feels like a little escape from the hustle and bustle of our neighborhood while still being connected to it, if that makes sense.

During the week we tend to stay local and enjoy the quieter vibes, then buzz around Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and other livelier areas on Friday and Saturday nights.

On Sunday afternoons we usually walk around the UWS and pop in anywhere that looks fun for a cocktail. Favorites include Ellington in the Park, Tiki Chick, and Jacob's Pickle.

The area is known for its grocery stores, but we are still getting used to carrying everything back instead of driving like we used to. We just shop more frequently and buy only what we need.

Ordering in is almost too easy here—there are endless places to choose from, the delivery fees are cheaper than in Pittsburgh, and the food typically arrives quickly.

Overall we have no complaints, though if we had to be picky, we wish there were a few more restaurants or maybe one nicer spot.

How their social life is going

Making new friends has been challenging for me since I work from home, but Anthony has met lots of people through his job, plus it has been great for him to reconnect with old friends.

Everyone who has visited us loves our new home and neighborhood and says our apartment looks even better in person.

Moving to Manhattan has been a good decision. There are more career opportunities here for both of us and exploring the city has been a wonderful adventure. We definitely plan on staying.


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.

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