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Avoiding Life in a Closet, the Jersey Way

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.

Aldona Daukantas spent enough time in the suburbs to know that she was meant to be somewhere more urban, and though Manhattan was always out of reach, New Jersey always provided some viable options. 15 years ago she bought a 1,700 square foot triplex in Paterson, but she realized she would need something more pragmatic as she got older and also for the sake of her cats. Her ideal location? Jersey City is where she set her sights and eventually found a place with just the right amenities and space.

The place she bought, 15 years ago, was a 1,700-square-foot loft-style triplex condominium in Paterson, N.J. It cost her $150,000. Ms. Corbett suggested she move. It needn’t be to Manhattan, she said, “because you are going to spend a boatload of money for a closet, and nobody should live like that.”

Another sister, Lina Angelo, works in Jersey City and showed her around.

After she sold her Paterson place last fall for $315,000, she returned to the hunt in Jersey City. She expected to spend in the mid- to high $400,000s and to keep her monthly outlay below $2,300.

The Bath House, converted from an abandoned 1903 public bath house, was appealing. “I like the idea of converted anything,”

But the partition walling off the loft was topped with a wide ledge. She imagined her cats would “jump on top of this ledge and roll over, splat.”

The Beacon, developed from the Art Deco structures of the old Jersey City Medical Center, was laden with amenities — too many, Ms. Daukantas felt.

She didn’t relish paying for features she would never use.

She fell for a three-story single-family row house on Fifth Street.

But, descending the steep stairs, she felt a thigh muscle object. “I said, wait a minute — fast forward — 10 years from now, am I going to want to go up and down these stairs?”

Initially Ms. Daukantas was iffy about Hamilton Square

She changed her mind when she saw a well laid-out 950-square-foot one-bedroom with an open kitchen. The windowsill was safe for cats.

She bought the apartment last winter for $460,000.

A Little Less Suburban, Please