The Newcomers

Why I moved to NYC from Raleigh: I wanted a place with cultural diversity and great food

  • He landed in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx where there are many new developments
  • The gross rent for his two bedroom with waterfont views, plus a gym and pool is $4,750
By Kelly Kreth  |
May 31, 2024 - 9:45AM
The Bruckner House at 40 Bruckner Boulevard

There's a two-block stretch of stores and restaurants near his new building, The Bruckner House.

Courtesy of JCS Realty

Raleigh, North Carolina, is a beautiful but quiet place to live, Timothy Qi found, so when he landed a job in New York City, he jumped at the chance to embrace a more vibrant neighborhood. He landed in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, where there’s lots of new development and the cultural diversity he was seeking. Here’s his story, as told to Kelly Kreth.

I was born in Columbus, Ohio and was raised in Apex, North Carolina. Most recently, I lived in Raleigh with my parents for the last year while earning my PhD at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

It was a quiet, safe, suburban neighborhood but I had to drive 20 minutes to get to any entertainment, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, even a grocery store. I was disappointed in the lack of culture and cuisine, apart from some Asian restaurants I liked.

[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.]

Raleigh is beautiful, however. There are lots of places you can go if you like nature. I also liked the downtown Durham area. For fun I enjoy taking and teaching hip hop dance classes, visiting my friends’ homes, and catching up at bars like Kingfisher. I had a car so I would drive most places.

In March I decided to move to NYC with my fiancée. I was about to finish my PhD and I had just landed a job in New York City at a multi-strategy hedge fund.

Wanted: A two bedroom in a pet-friendly building for under $5,000

I needed an apartment that was under $5,000 per month and at least 700 square feet. The building also had to be pet friendly since we have a cat. Her name is Mikasa, and we wanted room for her to run around. We preferred a building with a doorman and laundry machines in the unit, or at least in the building.

It would need to either be within walking distance to Midtown, where my office is, or an easy commute on the train. Excellent cultural food within the neighborhood is also a must for me.

We perused StreetEasy. We were thorough with our search and the process was quick. We visited about 10 apartments over the course of two days, primarily in Mott Haven, Long Island City, Brooklyn, and Manhattan—specifically in Koreatown. Manhattan seemed great for convenience, but apartments were tight on space. We saw some buildings with great amenities in the West 30s, but at the price point we were looking at, we just weren’t getting enough space. We felt the same about Long Island City—the neighborhood was convenient, but it was crammed. Mott Haven in the Bronx gave us the best bang for our buck.

My move in was also a very quick process. It ultimately came down to two choices in The Bruckner House, and I ended up going with the larger, more expensive unit.

How he likes his new apartment

We got a corner, two-bedroom unit with waterfront views and access to many amenities, all at an affordable price point. We currently pay $4,750 ($3,800 net) per month. We absolutely love our huge windows which bring in lots of great light into our apartment. Mikasa loves to lie right by the windows. I also particularly love the amount of space we have and our in-unit laundry machines.

We used Piece of Cake Moving & Storage to move our furniture and larger items, and then I flew up to meet them.

What he thinks of the location

I love that this is a brand-new building. It’s very clean, has nice finishes, and has a very attentive super. There are so many amenities I’m still exploring, but we have a great gym, rooftop pool, spa, and theater.

It’s located next to a retail area. We have easy access to subways for a smooth commute into Manhattan. The building is at most a seven-minute walk from the subway station and the neighborhood is very well-lit. On weekends, the culturally diverse neighborhood comes alive, with plenty of live music, which I love.

The Mott Haven neighborhood has such phenomenal culture, a strong industrial heritage, and delicious cuisine just a few steps away from my building. It’s a change of pace from my North Carolina roots.

Alexander Avenue has nice retail stores and great restaurants, although the best Mexican food I’ve had was in Brooklyn at Taqueria BK. I used to eat there at least once a week during the internship that led to my job offer.

We typically get groceries delivered through Amazon Fresh, Instacart, or from Weee! We don’t typically get food delivered, but when we do it’s through DoorDash.

I work from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, so it can be tough for me to be social. However, my fiancée and I are still getting to know our neighbors. So far everyone has been friendly, including the doorman and front desk staff. The doormen are very friendly and reliable. The leasing agent here is also great and gives a wonderful tour.

Friends and family have come to visit and they think our apartment is spacious and gorgeous. I can’t wait until the next time they visit—our building is a great place to host.

Overall moving to NYC was a great idea and Mott Haven was a particularly good neighborhood choice.



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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