Jennifer Sample loved living in the West Village — so much that when Covid-19 hit and homeschooling forced her to move out of the commercial loft she was sharing with her two children — Kate, 11, and Owen, 9 — and a 125-pound German shepherd named Sarge, she settled on a more traditional rental on the same street.
But after more than a decade in the neighborhood, she was starting to feel less and less at home. “We didn’t really know anyone anymore,” said Ms. Sample, 52, a single mother who runs a medical engineering company. Her son has autism, and she felt the shift in the area most acutely in the way strangers reacted to him.
“Once in a great while, Owen will have a meltdown. Instead of people calling the police on me, people used to come and help,” she said. “We’ve had a couple meltdowns in recent months, and the only people who have helped us are the Amazon delivery guys and the guys from UPS.”
At the height of the pandemic, both children were doing remote learning as part of a small pandemic pod, which contributed to Ms. Sample’s desire to stay local. But shortly after moving into their new rental, a two-bedroom that cost $10,650 a month, they were overwhelmed by a mouse infestation.
“I’m not talking 15 to 20 mice,” she said. “I’m talking 250 mice.”
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By March 2022, she was intent on finding a better environment for everyone. With a budget of up to $1.5 million, she hoped for some outdoor space for gardening. And with two growing children, a huge dog and now two cats — recruited to help with the mice — she needed more space to house the entire clan.
But not too much. “I didn’t want that much extra space to clean, with all these animals,” she said. Owen often sleeps in bed with her anyway, so two bedrooms felt like enough.
But her biggest wish was less tangible: a sense of community.
“She was always talking about this old New York where you have friendly neighbors and you know people on the street,” said her broker, Steve Gold, who stars on Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Listing” and represented Ms. Sample through the Corcoran Group. “She wasn’t feeling that anymore.”
Owen attends a private school for children on the autism spectrum in Harlem, so in addition to some possibilities in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Gold suggested that Ms. Sample consider Harlem as a place not just to learn, but to live.
Among her options:
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