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Welcome to our third installment of Escape From New York, in which we pick cities and listings for New Yorkers priced out of the market in the Big Apple.
This week: Meet Dave! He's a writer and musician with a day job as a secretary, living in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate in Brooklyn's Prospect Park South neighborhood.
While he loves the area's diversity and access to the park, he's ready for something light-filled, soundproof (he can hear the cats upstairs!), and way roomier.
His dream pads are a little fantastical: a giant loft in Manhattan, a mansion in Brooklyn Heights. But, he's open to a converted firehouse in a post-industrial New England town, preferably with ethnic diversity, not too much economic inequality, lots of culture and nature, and free stuff to do in the summer. That, we can help with.
The rent he wants to pay: $1,500. Unless he can get a house for $40,000.
Dave, I'm sending you to Troy, NY, (Disclaimer: Not actually sending you there -- you buy the house, get the job, hire the moving van, tip the movers.) Hear me out. Though the Troy of my youth (I'm from those parts originally) was a scary place, much of it is now fixed up, revitalized, and not-yet-posh. It has a population of 50,000-ish, though not as much diversity as you'd hoped for, or as I'd thought: It's almost 70% white. (There's a high percentage of women-owned businesses, though).
And here's an upside: There are currently 72 homes for sale for under $50,000, and the average rental is about $1,000 a month. There are free concerts, plenty of jobs across the river in Albany, and you can get to the Adirondacks or the Catskills within an hour.
As for the converted firehouse -- no luck. Yes, there is crime. There is blight. But that's why it's cheap.
Here are our suggestions for where you should live:
This looks like a fine spot to pen a screenplay: a cottage in the city. One bedroom, one bathroom, 920 square feet, for $45,000. (I think you could get it for less.) Yeah, there's wood paneling and linoleum, but the kitchen's sweet, and it's got a decent yard. Maybe outdoor house concerts?
For crying out loud, man, rent this place and take me with you! You will need two roommates (or a slightly higher-paying job), but look at what you get: the modern cabana in the back, a treehouse, a fancy-schmancy kitchen, and more attributes than I knew were possible in a house of this size, for this rent.
Wowee, look at this polished two-bedroom pad in a lovely, renovated building near a park. The list of amenities ain't half bad: "Stainless steel dishwasher, stove, microwave and ice-maker refrigerator all are BRAND NEW."
Yes, this place costs more than you wanted to pay, but it's got three bedrooms and it's beautiful. It's got a huge living room with beamed ceilings, a washer and dryer, a porch, a yard, and some nice furnishings. Get a roommate, and go forth.
Granted, we can't see the outside of this two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit, but it's a spacious 1,500 square feet, affordable, and has a three-season enclosed porch.