From a Queens house to a Manhattan studio with $400,000. Which did they choose?

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Shortly after getting married nearly six years ago, Ayan Chatterjee and David Krause bought their first home together: a 1920 two-story brick townhouse in Ridgewood, Queens, which they completely renovated. renovated.

Over time, the two “felt the urge to get out of town,” Chatterjee said, and started heading to the Catskills. “At some point when you hit your thirties, every weekend on the town isn’t as fun.”

The couple, both now 35, had enjoyed renovating the Queens home, so they bought a farmhouse to fix in Greene County, three hours north, for around $250,000. They added a chicken coop and a swimming pool.

“It’s a nice house, but it’s primitive and needs a lot of work,” Mr Chatterjee said. “As soon as you open walls, you discover problems.”

They call their contractor their “upstate dad” – he comes to the rescue when something goes wrong.

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Back in town during the pandemic, the couple felt trapped in their townhouse, with its small concrete patio. “It was our only breath of fresh air,” Mr Chatterjee said.

His work as a producer at MSNBC was entirely remote, and Mr. Krause, founder of a vegan skincare company, Alder New York, had always worked from home. So they sold the Ridgewood house and moved to the Catskills with Levi the dog, getting a hotel room whenever they visited town or when Mr. Chatterjee went to his office. They found it interesting to try hotels in different neighborhoods, but exhausting to live without suitcases.

So last winter, the couple hit the Manhattan rental market, even as they heard horror stories about soaring rents. One day, while surfing online, Mr. Krause mistakenly clicked on “for sale” ads and found surprisingly low prices. For a small pied-à-terre, buying seemed a better deal than renting. “It didn’t need to be more than a place to sleep and shower,” he said.

The couple could afford up to $400,000 for the equivalent of a hotel room. They were looking for a location on the West Side — a short walk from Mr. Chatterjee’s office at Rockefeller Center and Penn Station, for the train upstate.

They knew they would get nothing more than a studio in a co-op building. The so-called one-bedrooms in their price range were usually studios with some sort of makeshift sleeping area.

For help, they reached out to a friend, Sumi Vatsa, an associate broker at Compass, who had sold their townhouse in Ridgewood. “It was about making it the nicest hotel room possible,” Ms Vatsa said.

Among their options:

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