Last winter, Kerry Anne Hoffman and Sung Choi started apartment-hunting in earnest. Every Saturday night, they mapped out a Citi Bike route for open houses the next day.
“We had to plan our trips carefully to make sure we had a window for each open house,” Mr. Choi said. Sometimes an open house lasted only an hour. Sometimes the agent was late.
The couple, now engaged, met eight years ago, while working for the same tech company. Ms. Hoffman was living in Manhattan, in an East Village apartment between two alleys. “I could sleep all day because there was no sunlight,” she said.
Mr. Choi lived in Brooklyn, so close to the bridge in Dumbo that he called the neighborhood Rambo, for Right Around the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
Three years ago, the couple rented an 850-square-foot two-bedroom in a modern but noisy new building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with rent in the low $4,000s. One next-door neighbor would fall asleep with the TV on. Another, a vocalist, practiced scales.
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The couple, who now work at different tech companies — Ms. Hoffman, 34, in project management, and Mr. Choi, 43, in software engineering — wanted to upsize to a bigger two-bedroom with two bathrooms, good closet space and a view that wasn’t a brick wall.
One bedroom would be used as an office, and they wanted enough space for a dining table, so they could avoid holding dinner parties around their kitchen counter.
They had a budget in the low $1 million range, topping out at $1.4 million, and their goal was to find a relatively new condominium in “the heart of Brooklyn,” said their agent, Alejandro Beitler, of Compass.
“That was challenging,” Mr. Beitler said, “because there are different hearts of Brooklyn. Does that mean location, or are they talking about the vibe?”
They also wanted a place with the amenities they already enjoyed: a gym and common space in the building, and a washer-dryer and dishwasher in the apartment. Mr. Choi, who cooks, wanted a refrigerator with an icemaker and a water dispenser.
Many new buildings they saw had abundant amenities, but the apartments didn’t have adequate space for living or storage. “We would constantly play the game of ‘where will we move this item to make space for something else,’” Ms. Hoffman said.
“We didn’t want to make a rushed decision,” she said. “But we were able to end most days saying, ‘If someone kicks us out of our apartment today, we could live in something we saw.’”
Among their options:
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