From Gramercy to Murray Hill: I live alone and love the post-grad vibe here

By Kelly Kreth  |
December 10, 2021 - 9:30AM

Henry Henkel had been saving money by living with his grandparents in Gramercy Park. When they decided to sell, he started looking for a place of his own to rent, but had an unusual requirement: Very high ceilings, since he’s 6 feet, 10 inches tall! He found a place nearby where he doesn’t have to duck his head and he's still close to all his favorite post-grad hangouts. Here’s his story.

I was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Most recently I was living in Gramercy Park with my grandparents, sharing a two-bedroom unit in a doorman building. When they decided to sell their apartment, it was time for me to get my own place. Living with them meant I had saved up a lot of money, so I could find something of my own that I loved.

I liked the neighborhood’s proximity to Union Square and the Lower East Side. Groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, and stores were easy to get to and I liked going to Joe Jr., a local diner, and speaking Spanish with the staff and hanging out at two bars—Triona’s and Plug Uglies. There is a West Side Market diagonally across the street from the building as well as a Trader Joe’s nearby for food shopping.

I am a tech recruiter and at the time I was searching for a job so I didn’t have a commute.

[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 started looking for a new place in the early summer. I knew I wanted a one bedroom in Kips Bay or Murray Hill with a washer and dryer in the building and my budget was a maximum rent of $2,100.

I found agent Lucy Kuhn of Douglas Elliman through a family friend to help me with my search. In total I saw four apartments with Lucy. She is so knowledgeable and fielded all of my questions—I would have been lost without her assistance.

The first three we saw were fine, but didn’t have a lot of natural sunlight. The layouts were a bit awkward as well.

Then we went to see an apartment in nearby Murray Hill where an application had fallen through. As soon as I walked in, I knew it was the place for me: It’s a one-bedroom apartment with southern exposure (lots of light!), great French windows, very high ceilings, and an en-suite bathroom.

I like that there is laundry in the building—even though there aren’t many machines. But most of all the high ceilings do it for me: I am 6 feet,10 inches, so high ceilings are very important!

Lucy told me to immediately email the company as fast as I could. With her help I was able to move into my home. Timing is everything in snagging a good rental.

Also I pushed my budget to $2,150 and my mother served as my guarantor.

Moving was fine. The only rough part was having a small elevator and needing to bring a couch up five flights of stairs.

One small drawback of the building is that the super and handymen do not communicate very well and can take a lot time to fix issues.

I didn’t move far so I can still go to most of my favorite places and have added some new ones.

Murray Hill is neighborhood filled with recent college grads and young professionals and I love it. It doesn’t feel like a commercial area. And now that I am working as a recruiter for tech companies, it’s just a 10-minute walk to my job. Just like in Gramercy, there are tons of bar, restaurants and stores close. My favorites are: Blue Haven East, Murray Hill Diner, Bare Burger, and Libretto’s Pizza.

The move made a big improvement in my life. I am very happy with having my own place—a real one bedroom. My mother, brother, and his girlfriend have come to visit and they love the apartment and area as much as I do.

I plan on staying in this spot a long time. My lease is just for one year but I am already planning on renewing 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.

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