Two years ago, Alexis Wold arrived in New York from her hometown, Albuquerque, and rented a studio in a dog-friendly Yorkville walk-up. It had two of the things she wanted most — a laundry room and an easy walk to the hospital where she works.
Her rent was just $1,575 a month, “so I was able to save up,” she said.
But she yearned to buy a place. “I knew this was a good real estate market, probably the best in the country in terms of it being a good investment, although it is very competitive,” she said.
Ms. Wold, 31, hunted assiduously on StreetEasy.com, seeing what was available in her price range and learning about the interplay between purchase price and monthly outlay for housing.
Her goal was a studio or a one-bedroom for up to $400,000, though when she later asked herself, “How much does my life cost?” she realized she could afford more if she kept her total outlay to approximately $3,000 a month.
Ms. Wold wanted a home on the East Side between 48th and 88th Streets, so she could walk to her job as a pediatric pharmacist.
This time, along with location and laundry, her wish list included avoiding stairs. Her dog, Benny, a German shepherd-husky mix, weighs 70 pounds. At 8 years old, he was having trouble descending the steep steps of the rental, even though it was just one flight up. Ms. Wold knew she would be unable to carry him as he grew older and less agile.
She called Citi Habitats, which had an office near her Yorkville place, and was connected with a salesman there, Joshua Thissell.
A listing for a condominium in the East 60s sounded just right. It was a studio with a sleeping loft in a building that had once been a commercial laundry. The price had dropped to $465,000 from $495,000. Monthly charges were around $750.
The ceiling height in the loft was 5 feet 7 inches. Ms. Wold is 5-foot-2. The low ceiling was “probably not appealing to the majority of people,” who would have to crouch or crawl, Mr. Thissell told her, “but it might be to you.”
As Ms. Wold walked to the open house, she passed her hospital and glanced at her watch. The apartment was five minutes from work. She loved the proximity — and also the 500-square-foot interior.
“It was very unique and I liked that it was a loft, which is not that easy to find,” she said. Having the bed up and out of sight “was nicer than having a super-cramped one-bedroom,” she said.
The apartment had five closets, and she had been plagued by a lack of closet space. The kitchen included a dishwasher; the building had an elevator; and the laundry room was on the top floor.
At the open house, a woman climbed the loft stairs and, attempting unsuccessfully to stand, declared the height unsuitable. But Ms. Wold could easily stand upright.
“The apartment fit all my criteria and more,” she said, “and I didn’t feel compelled to keep looking.”
But she had two more open houses later in the day. In an East 79th Street elevator condo building, she saw a dark L-shape studio, 430 square feet, with a dining area. The price was $425,000, with monthly charges of $800.
“It’s not that it wasn’t livable; it’s just that it was not in good shape,” Ms. Wold said. (The place later sold for $432,000.)
She couldn’t help but compare it to the first one, “so it became, do I like it better than this?”
Next up was a one-bedroom of around 550 square feet in an elevator co-op building on East 80th Street. It was listed for $389,000, with monthly maintenance of just over $1,000.
The sunny street view included a pretty church, but “I felt like the feng shui was not right,” Ms. Wold said. She didn’t like the layout, with an entrance that forced either a left or a right turn. The bedroom was tiny. The apartment was “sort of unremarkable, which is O.K.,” but not for her, she said. (The co-op is now in contract.)