Jen Brenneman's two bedroom railroad apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was just perfect for many years. She moved into the room with her two young sons in 2015 after breaking up with their father.
She loved that the apartment was big and had lots of natural light. And she loved that she could see everyone at all times.
"When we moved in, my sons were 2 and 6," she said. "At this age you have to be able to make sure that nobody eats soap or rubs glue on the couch."
Six years later, Daniel and Jed, now 8 and 12, no longer need constant supervision. In fact, they would prefer not always to be in their or each other's line of sight.
The layout of the railroad was terrible for working from home, too, which Ms. Brenneman, a director of learning and development at a technology company, has been doing since the pandemic began. In the long row of rooms there was only one glass door between the bedrooms, which offered little privacy or soundproofing.
For much of the past year, all three worked together in the kitchen area, creating a cacophony of zooms. After school, Jed played Xbox in the family room and his calls went through the tunnel to the opposite end of the apartment.
And at least those were happy calls. Not infrequently, Mrs. Brenneman was interrupted by the sounds of the fight between her sons. "They're just very aggressive and physical," she said. "It can be a tough age difference."
She believed the fighting was related to how Covid had disrupted routines that previously offered space and structure. Not only was everyone much more at home than before, but the boys' schools, extracurricular programs, and extracurricular programs have all been constantly stopped and started due to the pandemic.
"I thought if everyone had their own rooms they would have some degree of control and that would help," she said.
Around the beginning of the year, she began checking rental records and found that prices had fallen during the pandemic and she could now afford a three-bedroom apartment nearby for what she was paying for, $ 2,500 a month. And if she increased her budget to $ 3,000 a month, she could get things she really wanted, like a washer, dryer, and outdoor space.
Hoping to get a better feel for what was available, she went a few blocks away in January for an open house for a three-bedroom home.
The apartment, a newly renovated floor of a three-unit house, wasn't much bigger than the old one, but the layout was exactly what they needed: three separate bedrooms, all with real doors, plus a large living room and kitchen. The apartment also had a washer and dryer and shared a back yard with the other two units in the building.
But at $ 3,300 a month, it was several hundred dollars over her budget. The landlady was also looking for a move in on February 1st and her lease did not expire until April.
However, a few days later the agent called and offered her the apartment for $ 3,150 per month with a move-in date of March 1st.
"I thought, 'Well, I have to take this seriously," Ms. Brenneman said. Even so, after six years in her old apartment, it felt strange to take the first seat she saw, so she planned to have screenings in two other apartments But the first listing was taken by someone else before she had a chance to visit, and she could tell from the photos that the second listing was not so nice.
I thought, 'Why do I have to look at 17 apartments? Maybe it can be easy, ”she said.
Her sons, she added, were not difficult to please. “These clowns will take everything with one door. They said, "This is amazing!"
$ 3,150 | Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Jen Brenneman, 42, Jed, 12, and Daniel, 8
Occupation: Ms. Brenneman is the director of learning and development for a technology company.
On the wish list: A new coffee table now that her sons are old enough not to jump off the sofa. "My old coffee table was a $ 20 tank that I bought from Craigslist," she said.
The new layout: "It was hard to anticipate the relative differences between space and privacy," she said. "But I thought more doors would be better in the end."
Stay in Greenpoint: "It felt important not to change neighborhoods," she said. "The move had to be a stress reliever, not a stress reliever."
Her concern about the first place she saw disappeared when everyone told her what a lot it was. "Even my old landlord said, 'Well, you have to move, you can't miss this," Ms. Brenneman said (trying unsuccessfully to find someone to take over her lease on the railroad apartment and paying rent in both locations for March But because she found the new apartment with no brokerage fee, she found everything was balanced.)
The location was also ideal: a few blocks closer to her younger son's school and just around the corner from the new Greenpoint library.
You moved in at the beginning of March. Not changing parts of the city, schools or school commuting made the transition easier.
And having three bedrooms made life easier.
"I feel like both of them can bend over a little," Ms. Brenneman said, adding that the boys took the opportunity to make their rooms their own. Jed added an art desk and game desk to his room, and Daniel bought free weights and a resistance belt for a home gym.
Ms. Brenneman enjoyed being able to work from a desk in her room instead of doing everything from the kitchen table. There's a dishwasher and air conditioning, and you no longer have to haul a huge laundry bag to the laundromat every two weeks.
But the back yard may be her favorite feature.
"I've always wanted to sit outside, drink my coffee and read the newspaper," said Ms. Brenneman, who was content with a beach chair on the fire escape in her old place. "We used to live near Transmitter Park and I always thought we could sit in the park in the morning, but when we mobilized it was always three hours later."
She is a little sad that she left the charming old apartment with higher ceilings and better lighting. She already misses bizarre details like the fireplace cladding, which is surrounded by very convincing artificial bricks.
"The new place is so new that it is very sterile," Ms. Brenneman said. "It's not a cool apartment. It's a middle-aged family apartment, a soccer mother's apartment."
Even so, she added, it is very much the apartment they need right now.
"It gives everyone a lot more autonomy," she said. “The phase in which my children needed me all the time is now closed. They still need me, but in a different way. And this apartment feels very representative of it. "