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Closing the "Psychic Gap" Between Two Boroughs

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.

Christopher Murray is a social worker who lived in the same South Slope rental for 15 years, commuting to work in the Village. When his friends, also in their early 40's began to buy places, he realized that maybe it was time to leave the past behind and pursue the more adult option of owning. This also was his chance to move closer to his work and avoid the commute between home and his office, and eventually this idea bloomed into a search for a two bedroom that could serve as a live and work space. Looking slightly off the beaten path, he found the ideal spot.

-“The psychic distance across the East River is longer than the actual distance.” -Maybe the best plan would be to consolidate home and office.

-For a new home and office, he was willing to pay up to $4,500 a month — though he would be happier in the $3,000s.

-He wanted a place in Greenwich Village or Chelsea, close to his primarily gay clientele. The layout had to allow for a waiting area.

-Mr. Murray checked out several of Chelsea’s high-rise towers. He almost chose the Atlas on 38th Street and Sixth Avenue. “Like everybody else in New York, I am not immune to the desire for fabulousness,” he said. “I was very excited and a little helium-headed.”

-But all he could afford there was a one-bedroom. (Rents are currently $3,300 to $3,700 a month.) And the place would have only one bathroom, to be shared with clients.
Then there was the doorman problem. “As nice as it is to have a doorman to help, I had anxiety,” Mr. Murray said. “Maybe they would think there was too much traffic in my apartment, or I would be overly beholden to them.” If the doormen let in several clients a day, “Does that mean I am utilizing their services more than others are?” he said. Would he have to tip more at the holidays? He decided to avoid the whole issue.

-Nondoorman buildings, however, often seemed dowdy.

-A garden duplex in a small building in Chelsea was a possible exception, with two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a monthly rent of $3,450. Mr. Murray hesitated. “When in doubt,” he said, “delay and allow a process.” The process culminated in the owner’s decision not to rent to a therapist working from home.

-Then, Mr. Murray saw a listing for Chelsea Place, on Ninth Avenue at 30th Street, a 10-year-old rental building with an unattended lobby. A two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms was listed for $4,000 a month.
The layout was perfect. The apartment’s door opened into a large living room that could easily double as a waiting room. The master bedroom and its bathroom were at the far end of the apartment. Mr. Murray negotiated the rent to $3,900 and moved in last month.

· A Shorter Commute to the Office [NYT]