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Seeking a ‘One-Bedroom With the Basics’ in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Which Would Be More Affordable?


Christopher Ferraris and Charvi Magdaong began their search for a new home in 2020 with a modest list of criteria — so modest that, to anyone who has never lived in New York City, their expectations might have seemed absurdly low.

“I’ve lived in walk-ups almost my entire New York life, so the idea of an elevator was so luxurious,” Mr. Ferraris said. “And I was thinking a dishwasher, and enough square footage where we weren’t getting in each other’s way.”

Mr. Ferraris, 41, is a social worker, and Mr. Magdaong, 36, works for an educational technology company. When the pandemic hit, they were sharing a 400-square-foot rental in the West Village with a bedroom that felt more like a large closet: Their bed touched three of the four walls. With both of them working from home, mornings began with a negotiation.

“We had a competition every day about who would get to use the living room and who would have to use the other room, which had terrible lighting and looked terrifying on camera,” Mr. Ferraris said.

Even when Mr. Magdaong was lucky enough to score a spot on the sofa for the day, the cramped quarters hampered his productivity. “Our apartment was so small that I could hear Chris in the background of my calls,” he said.

[Did you recently buy or rent a home in the New York metro area? We want to hear from you. Email: thehunt@nytimes.com]

By September, the couple had become engaged and had resolved to find a home with more space and fewer stairs. Aside from that, Mr. Magdaong said, “We were really pretty open. We just wanted a one-bedroom with the basics.”

Location was also a factor: Mr. Magdaong’s office is in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and Mr. Ferraris is a part-time lecturer at the Columbia School of Social Work, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Both expected to return to their offices eventually, so they decided to target neighborhoods with easy access to the A or L train, which would allow each of them to commute in about 45 minutes.

The couple set a budget of up to $750,000, but they were less focused on the sticker price than on the monthly fees. The rent at their West Village apartment was $2,750, and they didn’t want that number to increase by a huge amount. After putting 20 percent down, they figured they could comfortably handle a monthly outlay of up to $3,300 for mortgage, taxes and any additional fees.

Through a listing on StreetEasy, they connected with Michael Wohlfeld, a broker with Bond New York, who began showing them listings in Dumbo, Williamsburg and Clinton Hill, in Brooklyn, as well as Lower Manhattan. The search took more than a year, but they knew they had time to be deliberate because their West Village lease didn’t end until January 2022. In all, they saw 35 apartments.

“It was a long one, because they got caught with the Covid buying craziness that went on,” Mr. Wohlfeld said.

Among their one-bedroom options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

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