As former New Yorkers moving back into the city, my wife and I had a clear idea of what we wanted in our new home: a) half-hour commute to the UN; b) a closed kitchen; c) a monthly rent < $4,500; d) a two bedroom apartment; and e) a fun & vibrant neighborhood. As you will soon find out, New York City forces you to prioritize and compromise. After looking at more than 20 apartments, we settled for our top three priorities (a, b and c) and moved into our converted two-bedroom apartment in Midtown East a year ago. We haven’t yet fully warmed up to the neighborhood, but I can see us happily living here for a few years.
Charm and personality: 2/5
Commute: My wife’s commute is less than 5 minutes, door to door! Ha, Take that MTA! We love not having to deal with the perennially dysfunctional subway system or the horrendous traffic.
Our Building (The Belmont, under Glenwood management). Although pricier than an equivalent apartment in other neighborhoods, we love living here. The building is modestly luxurious and is well maintained. Most repairs are fixed within the hour and the staff is quite friendly. Add
to this, amenities like a roof top garden, a small gym and extra storage space for suitcases and bikes. Did I say we found the elusive apartment with a fully closable kitchen? More on that soon.
Proximity to Grand Central Station: Grand Central Terminal (GCT) is one of the major connecting terminals for the NY subway system (MTA) and Metro North lines (we use Metro North for hiking trips in upstate New York). It is a welcome relief to have a short walk home after a long day of hiking.
The YMCA: Comfortable, friendly and relatively inexpensive the Vanderbilt YMCA is our preferred gym. It is just a block away from where we live. Combined with the small gym in the apartment building, it is hard to come up with excuses for not being fit.
Finally, the apartment itself: Plenty of closest space, relatively big, well lit and with two full bathrooms. It is a very comfortable space to live in. Did I say the kitchen is closed? Yes! A must have for me in New York City since I tend to cook a lot of Indian food. Cue up the spices and Bollywood music please!
While we love the ease of commute, it is a little too close to the hustle of the UN, especially when it is time for the UN General Assembly.
The apartments are generally 20% more expensive than those in neighborhoods such as the Upper East Side.
The neighborhood is predominantly filled with offices and diplomatic missions, and thereby empties on the weekend/after work. We find it quite boring! A vast majority (not all) of the good restaurants here are usually closed outside of office hours. As result, socializing for us generally happens outside the area.
If we had kids or a wanted to have a car, this neighborhood is not where we would be.
By Siva J Rajendran
Text photos: Siva J Rajendran; Cover photo: Yen Nguyen