From the West Village to the UWS: When your workout determines where you want to live

By Kelly Kreth  |
September 23, 2021 - 12:30PM

"Having a one bedroom compared to a studio feels spacious and luxurious. I have a bedroom with an actual door on it!" says Justin Travis about his new place on the Upper West Side.

Danielle Jernigan, Keller Williams NYC

During the pandemic, Justin Travis started to feel the smallness of his studio in the swanky West Village. He liked running and cycling at nearby Hudson River Park but living close to Central Park where he could do laps was even more appealing. He made a move, landing a larger apartment for $400 less than he was paying before. Here’s his story.

I was born and raised in Connecticut and moved to New York City in 2009 after graduating from college. I'm now a director of technology for a social impact startup.

Previously I was living by myself in a studio in the West Village that was only about 350 square feet. The apartment was on the top floor of an elevator building, which had laundry in the basement. The rent was $2,550.

The apartment was small and basic with some natural light—not nearly enough—so it was clear I was paying a premium to live in tony neighborhood.

[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 love nightlife and dining out. Places like Katana Kitten, Dante (their new location on Hudson), Malaparte, Lelabar, and Anfora were my favorites. I also liked the proximity to the Whitney Museum, where I was a member, as well as the ease of getting to the galleries in Chelsea. Hudson River Park was great for running and cycling, which I got into recently.

West Side Market and Elm Wellness were my go-to grocery stores. They were godsends during the pandemic! And I ordered a few times from Jack's Wife Freda, Shake Shack, Momoya, and DOMODOMO, to name a few! 

My office was near Rockefeller Center, so the F and M trains at 14th Street made it easy to get to the office.

The smallness of the studio started to get to me during the pandemic. I had been there for over four years, so it felt like time for a change. I was starting to do a lot of cycling around Central Park, and thought it would be nice if I could save myself a trip to the park every time I wanted to do around laps.

In early 2021 I started thinking about moving. I found a great real estate agent, Danielle Jernigan at Keller Williams NYC, who showed me at least 10 apartments. In April, I found a small, walkup building with just 10 units on the Upper West Side

Moving during a pandemic was not especially difficult. The movers were very diligent about mask wearing and distancing. They told me that the third mover who was supposed to be on my job wasn't able to make it because he tested positive that morning. As much as I felt bad for him, I was happy the company was taking Covid seriously and testing their movers every day.

My apartment is a one bedroom on the third floor, and I am now saving $400 a month and have a bigger space. Thankfully my upstairs neighbor is rarely around, so I don't mind having someone living above me.

Having a one bedroom compared to a studio feels spacious and luxurious. I have a bedroom with an actual door on it! It even has a wood burning fireplace, which is truly a luxury in NYC! I do get more street noise, which I'm not crazy about, but I'm slowly getting used to it. And there is laundry in the basement, which is nice!

As with all old buildings, it's quirky! The building has lots of character. I don't think the floor is completely level in any one spot, and the floors creak like crazy. I am working from home so having a separate room is key.

While the West Village is a lovely neighborhood, you just can’t beat proximity to Central Park! And generally, this part of the UWS is quiet and feels “neighborhoody” with its tree-lined blocks.

I’m no expert, but I'm really into architecture and I love all the different styles of brownstones, as well as the character of the buildings that line Central Park West. 

For food, Lokal83 around the corner is great! Vin Sur Vingt on 84th, Mermaid Inn, About Coffee, and Sushi Nonaka are great as well. There's a supermarket a block away which is convenient, plus I've been visiting my local fruit stand on 86th St. 

And if I venture out there are plenty of transportation options. The B and C trains are closest and easiest, but I’ve also started taking the bus more (have never taken the bus so much even after 10+ years in the city!), especially to get to the east side. 

I’ll have to see how the rental market looks next year to determine if I stay or opt for another move—either within this same neighborhood or elsewhere. For now, I’m still exploring and eager to make more friends in the area.



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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