When Eric Carlson relocated from Dallas to New York City eight years ago, the best part was getting rid of his Volkswagen. “Ditching my car meant freedom, ironically,” he said.
But the transition to life in Manhattan — moving into his partner’s West Village apartment after a year and a half of long-distance dating, and then marrying him — was a bumpy one. There was “new everything,” said Mr. Carlson, now 58, a communications professor at CUNY Bronx Community College. “New colleagues, new friends that I inherited that weren’t really mine, new students,” he said. And of course, “the subway,” which he rode up to the Bronx and back every day.
But nothing prepared him for the jolt he got last Valentine’s Day, when Mr. Carlson’s husband asked for a divorce. In the scramble to find a new home, he realized that one silver lining was the chance to live closer to work, and to escape the “performative-fancy” madness of the West Village. It had never felt like a good match.
“One of the problems in the relationship was I just didn’t really fit in,” said Mr. Carlson, a nature-loving hiker. “I just never found my place.”
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Leaving what he’d thought would be his forever relationship and embarking on a search for a new forever home, Mr. Carlson knew only that he wanted to buy. “At my age, I didn’t like the idea of my income going to someone that could raise my rent,” he said.
He qualified for a bank loan program for buyers earning below $119,000, which made a mortgage more affordable. Hoping to stay under $200,000 for the purchase, he started looking farther uptown, but the apartments he could afford were “tiny.”
So his agent, Gary Martin of Compass, took him to the northwest Bronx, around Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil, less than 30 minutes to work on the Metro-North. The area had a serenity he couldn’t find downtown, with its cacophony of boozy brunchers, honking taxis and “people screaming because they almost got hit.”
“It’s an up-and-coming, vibrant area,” Mr. Martin said of the Bronx neighborhoods, adding that Mr. Carlson’s budget would allow him to consider studios and one-bedrooms in co-op buildings. “His budget in that area really gave him a lot more options.”
Among his options:
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