The Newcomers

Why I moved to NYC from Boston: I wanted to be in a place that celebrates LGBTQ culture

  • The rent for his three-bedroom, two-bath unit with private roof access is $3,400
  • 'Hell’s Kitchen celebrates drag, live music, Broadway, and all things gay. It's lovely'
By Kelly Kreth  |
January 26, 2024 - 9:45AM
newcomers brick underground

"Here in NYC, I feel as though all the walls, ceiling, and floor have been blown open. Social, romantic, and professional boundaries have disappeared," Stephen says. "For the first time, I feel like I am home."  

While his professional life in the Boston area was top-notch, Stephen felt he had outgrown it in terms of social possibilities. He longed for an LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood and found that and more by moving to Hell’s Kitchen, where he finally feels at home. Here’s his story. 

I was born at Beth Israel Hospital in Downtown Boston and raised in a small coastal hamlet with blue-collar roots in Boston’s inner core called Winthrop by the Sea. My family has been in that community for four generations on both my mother’s and father’s side.

My home there was a 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath beach cottage. I paid $380,000 for it in 2018. I also rented a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment close to Winthrop Center for $2,100 per month. 

Winthrop is an incredibly charming seaside town, with gorgeous beaches, a thriving business district, and a vibrant restaurant scene. It is just two miles from downtown Boston and has access to public transportation into the city. Living in a community where I have generational connections was very important to my real estate business and my overall professional growth.

My cottage is wonderfully situated near the beach, and my apartment was just a three-minute stroll to my office and all the restaurants in Winthrop Center.

[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 owned a boutique coastal residential brokerage—Lantern Residential—that served Winthrop, Revere, East Boston, and Chelsea. This firm was my pride and joy and boasts one of the prettiest and most well-known storefronts in Winthrop. 

Local hotspots include The Winthrop Arms, a boutique hotel and traditional American restaurant known state-wide for its chicken potpies and pork chops, and Blackstrap BBQ, another fantastic restaurant with incredible smokehouse barbeque. 

Depending on your profession and leisure habits, I’d say there is a 75/25 split between private vehicles and public transport. The MBTA is good for travel into Boston’s center neighborhoods for dinner, theater, and sports events, but most of Greater Boston is far too spread out for public transport to be reliable on a day-to-day basis.

For me, LGBT nightlife is extremely important to my identity. Boston, unfortunately, is severely lacking in this department. With only three or four LGBT spots, living in Greater Boston as a gay 30-something is rather bland.

Why he moved to Manhattan

On my 36th birthday—May 21st of 2022—I decided to move to NYC. I was at the peak of my real estate career in Boston, having been a successful broker for 10 years and owning my own brokerage. Yet I was getting older in a city that did not meet my social and cultural needs, and I was single. I thought to myself, “What type of man do I want to be? Where do I want to be when I turn 40? 50? 60?” I decided to give NYC a chance.

My number one priority was being in a neighborhood that celebrates my culture and community. Hell’s Kitchen has long been a safe zone for members of the LGBT community, and celebrates the art and music that we identify with.

Finally, in June 2023, I made the move. I was subletting with a friend of mine for the summer and found out the unit across the hall was becoming available. I slid in and took it. I landed a large three-bedroom, two-full-bath unit for $3,400 a month!

I did view one other apartment but quickly realized that the deal I had in my current building was unbeatable.

I now live on the fifth floor of a prewar walkup building—it's the top floor. There are two apartments on the floor and two of my best friends have the other apartment. In total, we have six bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and complete roof access. The views are incredible. Sharing a floor of a building with your best friends is a really unique and special situation. It feels like my NYC “Friends” fantasy has come to life.

What life is like in his new nabe

I can’t say enough about how special this neighborhood is—the restaurants and LGBT nightlife are all great. Hell’s Kitchen celebrates drag, live music, Broadway, and all things gay. It's lovely.

Like any neighborhood in NYC (as compared to Boston), the homeless and public drug use was a bit jarring at first. Also, NYC seems to be completely OK with pets being in the buildings, unlike in Great Boston rentals, and I find it to be, well, filthy! I don’t like animals in apartment buildings, but I am living with it.

Access to amenities such as laundry, groceries, and take-out are exceedingly easy in NYC—in spite of not having a vehicle. In my neighborhood, I utilize drop-off laundry service at All American Wash, home-delivered meal prep through a company called Nutre, and Uber Eats for some take-out.

My favorite nightlife spots are Balcon, Hardware, VERS, and Rise Bar. My gym is TMPL on 49th Street, and Hudson Bagel is my go-to for breakfast on days I’m not at the office.  

I made the decision in May of 2023 to sell my real estate company to my two wonderful business partners, though I am still affiliated with the firm and run a strong referral business through it. I also submitted my resume to some of the biggest real estate firms in NYC and eventually took a job with Keller Williams NYC, where I am the director of agent success on The Shapot Team. I spend my days recruiting and training new team members and offering support to our agents. 

My office is four avenues crosstown, so I walk the 15 minutes because crosstown MTA service isn't available often. Otherwise, I use the MTA to get around. My social circle ranges from Harlem down to Brooklyn, so the the multiple train lines here are very handy and easily accessible from Hell’s Kitchen. 

How his dating life is going

My family hasn’t come to visit yet. Of course, my grandparents have expressed concern over my safety here in the city. But I have explained that Fox News can’t always be trusted to represent what life is like on the ground here. I feel very safe in Hell’s Kitchen.

I have made new friends here as well. I was lucky to land in that initial sublet with a Hell’s Kitchen socialite. He introduced me to an enormous number of other gay men in their 20s and 30s. My social life is robust and full of love.

Dating has also been wonderful. I dated a lot over the summer. Hell's Kitchen is full of single 20-, 30-, and 40-something gay men. I met a fantastic man a month or so ago and we started officially dating this week. I don’t know where it will go, but I do hope it turns out to be a NYC success story. 

The way I describe being in NYC is that while my life was full in Boston, I had reached my social and professional limits on all sides. Here in NYC, I feel as though all the walls, ceiling, and floor have been blown open. Social, romantic, and professional boundaries have disappeared. A sense of limitlessness is what I feel. I don’t want to go back. For the first time, I feel like I am home.



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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