As they planned their wedding last year, Amanda Ullman and Joe Brent had to find more than just a venue: They had to agree on where to live.
Mr. Brent was renting the ground floor of an attached brick house across from Inwood Hill Park, at the top of Manhattan. He had recently (and reluctantly) returned to the city from the Hudson Valley for work in musical theater.
“The apartment was like a recording studio with some living amenities in it,” said Mr. Brent, 46, a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who paid $1,800 a month in rent.
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Dr. Ullman, 41, a medical director at a pharmaceutical company, was living in a one-bedroom condominium that she owned in Harlem — far too small to accommodate Mr. Brent’s instruments and equipment.
The couple agreed that they needed more space than either of them had. But she wanted to stay in the city, while he longed to return to the country.
With the help of Jennifer Corcoran, an agent with Core Real Estate and Dr. Ullman’s upstairs neighbor, they figured they could find a happy medium. An early $850,000 offer on a century-old house in Maplewood, N.J., was accepted. “That was where we thought we could find the space that we needed,” Dr. Ullman said.
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But the couple quickly backed out, uncertain about buying into an inflated market during the rush to the suburbs.
So they settled on Upper Manhattan — Washington Heights, Hudson Heights or Inwood. With a budget of up to $1 million, they could afford a two-bedroom not far from where Mr. Brent lived, which would provide some distance from the borough’s most crowded areas and put them near several large parks.
“I really need access to blue and green stuff — rivers and trees,” Mr. Brent said.
The housing stock in the area was also suitable for their needs and tastes. “They really liked the prewar vibe,” Ms. Corcoran said.
Still, parts of the neighborhood were noisy, with revving motorcycles and loud music, which concerned Mr. Brent. “If you’re working with sensitive microphones, you have to worry about traffic, horns and alarms outside your windows,” he said. “New York City creates unique challenges to recording environments.”
Among their options:
Historic Charm in Hudson Heights
This 1,000-square-foot apartment, which had a second bedroom that was just 85 square feet, was in Castle Village, a co-op complex overlooking the Hudson River. It had plenty of original details, a large galley kitchen, an updated electrical system and panoramic views to the north and west. The complex, a couple of blocks from Fort Tryon Park, had a roof deck and nearly eight acres of common gardens. The asking price was $925,000, with monthly maintenance of around $2,100 and an assessment of $75.
Fixer-Upper in Inwood
This 1,050-square-foot two-bedroom in a 1935 co-op elevator building was big, bright and rundown. It had a sunken living room, original hardware and a windowed, eat-in kitchen. The building was steps from Inwood Hill Park, which meant Mr. Brent could keep his rental as a music studio. The price was $579,000, with maintenance of around $1,100, leaving plenty of funds for needed renovations.
Renovated in Washington Heights
This 950-square-foot two-bedroom was on a low floor in the Riviera, a 1911 co-op building in the Audubon Park Historic District. It had a second bathroom, a small office and a stacked washer and dryer in the open kitchen. The renovation included updated water filtration and remote-controlled blinds, but the views were of windows and walls. The price was $875,000, with maintenance of about $1,500.
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