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Making The Leap From A Studio to One Bedroom

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If reading The Hunt stokes your deepest hopes that someday everything in life could work out, then you, too, are obsessed with the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section. Join us as we venture into the depths of this weekend's installment.

Margo Simcox doesn't really like studios. Her old one on the Upper East Side turned her bed into a couch for friends and she decided that she needed a place with a bedroom. She had been renting for several years and decided that since she's going to stay in New York, it would be the perfect time to buy. Initially wanting to stay on the Upper East Side, she ventured further downtown and found something she liked in Murray Hill.

-FOUR years ago, Margo Simcox rented a large studio — 650 square feet — on East 65th Street. Though she was not unhappy there, for the long term what she really wanted was a true one-bedroom. -Ms. Simcox, 28, who was paying $2,100 a month, watched as her friends started buying places. “We are all getting to the age where we have been renting for a few years now,” she said. “We are either leaving the city or staying here, and if you’re staying here, why rent anymore?”

-Ms. Simcox, who is from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and a graduate of Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, hoped to stay in her immediate neighborhood so she could continue to walk to her office near Rockefeller Center, where she works in marketing for an insurance brokerage. Her budget was in the $400,000 range, and she wanted to keep the monthly maintenance under $1,000.

-The first place Ms. Simcox saw, about six months ago, was a 700-square-foot one-bedroom on East 74th Street. The apartment’s back wall, which was mostly glass, angled up to the ceiling. “The solarium was a unique feature, and I loved it instantly,” she said. The listing price was $409,000; maintenance was around $900 a month.
Her parents, whose opinions she sought, feared the high cost of air-conditioning.
That apartment was relatively spacious, so “that was the standard to which Margo held subsequent apartments,” Mr. Green said. “She later saw that was an anomaly at that price range.” Similarly priced apartments weren’t nearly as big. If they were, they were in bad shape.

-Ms. Simcox later looked at two other places in the same line in the building. Both were converted studios of 600 square feet, one fully renovated and one not at all. It was a “striking display of how the same apartment can be portrayed so differently,” Mr. Green said.

-Two similar one-bedrooms, with around 600 square feet, were for sale on East 57th Street near Sutton Place. One had a sleeping alcove; the other had the alcove fully walled off. Both were listed at $399,000. “I liked parts of each of them,” Ms. Simcox said, “but I didn’t have the love-at-first-sight thing I kept hoping for.”

-She decided to hunt farther downtown.

-...in Murray Hill, she saw a beautifully renovated one-bedroom with nearly 800 square feet and five big closets. It was by far the largest place she had seen. The building had a furnished roof deck. Maintenance was in the mid-$800s.
The downside was the building’s location on East 36th Street, where traffic feeds into the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. But the ground-floor apartment faced the landscaped courtyard, thereby avoiding a “view of cars sitting in traffic,” Mr. Green said. The apartment had lingered for more than six months, with the price dropping from $525,000 to $500,000 to $450,000.

-She bought her home for $425,000 and arrived in early fall.

A Wall Where It Matters, And a Roof Deck, Too