Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yes, it really is possible

Saw a blog comment here by our niece, Debbie, who lives in the Bay area. Yes, it does exist: a well-kept 1 BR apartment, in a nice, pretty and safe area, for $169K within a 45-minute train ride of Times (click photo to see more photos of this apartment).

Can you find something comparable in the Bay area? Within a 45-minute commute of SF by train? Somehow I doubt it.

Manhattan itself is ridiculously priced. Truly ridiculous--the perspective on pricing here is almost comical to us normal folks who don't have millions in the bank.

Even Brooklyn is berserk, price-wise--and no offense to Brooklynites, but it's just not our thing (even though many areas are quite interesting). Some areas of Queens are affordable and nice, too, but the commute options are not great.

So the remaining boroughs are the Bronx and Staten Island. Staten Island is a definite "no," especially because it's way too far from where we work. So the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale/Fieldston is a great choice for us. It's still affordable, it's pretty, it's an easy commute to Columbia and elsewhere.

Where we live now, in Union City, NJ, has its pluses: notably the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline and southward and a very short commute to 42nd Street (on the weekend, for instance, we can leave the house at 9 am and be at 42nd Street before 9:30, easy).

But the minuses for us include the lack of services here and the 60-70-minute commute to work, by bus and then subway. From Riverdale, it would be about 25 minutes on the subway (part of which is above ground)--which still may seem long to some people, but it's not bad at all when you can just sit and read a book the entire time!

People thought we were crazy to move here without jobs. They said our cost of living would go up, well past what we could earn, and that we'd be in worse financial shape than we were before.

We did this calculation before, but if we move to Riverdale, here's what the percentages will be:

Mary's take-home pay has gone up about 15 percent
Jeff's take-home pay has gone up 50 percent (yes, you read that correctly)
Our monthly mortgage, if we get this place, will have gone down 20 percent (granted, we'd be living in 600 square feet instead of 1450 square feet, but downsizing has its advantages)
Transportation: Costs down 80 percent (from making 2 car payments, paying for gas and insurance, to buying 2 monthly subway passes)--and that doesn't even count depreciation of the cars
Cost of Rachel's education at NYU: Down from about $185K to about $80K, thanks to us scoring jobs at Columbia University with the tuition scholarship benefit.

So if some of you were thinking this was a crazy idea, this should show you that if you do it conservatively and plan things out, a move to the NYC metro area is not only affordable, but can substantially turn your future around in a positive direction. And we're just talking money here, not even quality of life (which, actually, is a lot better than you might imagine).

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