Falling in Love With Weehawken

An inexpensive apartment brought Frank Gargiulo to Weehawken, N.J., seven years ago. But it’s a different apartment — a beautiful, sunny 1,300-square-foot space with a sunroom, a terrace and Victorian details like bay windows and pocket doors — that has kept him there.

Mr. Gargiulo, a 57-year-old creative director, had lived in the East Village, where he had an $1,800-a-month, rent-stabilized one-bedroom. During the last recession, in 2009, he gave up the apartment and moved out to Portland, Ore.

By the time he returned to New York for a job in 2014, he had come to appreciate having more space and a less hectic pace of life. He had also enjoyed Portland’s affordability. At one house, his room cost just $250 a month. At another, he bartered for his portion of the rent, designing graphics for his roommate’s jam business.

And so, when a friend with an $1,100-a-month two-bedroom in Weehawken offered him the other bedroom, Mr. Gargiulo happily accepted. He had already been storing some of his furniture in the friend’s apartment, and he had limited time to find a place, which made the move even more convenient.

“I fell in love with this place,” he said. The apartment is on the second floor of a three-unit Victorian; the house’s longtime owners live on the first floor, and their daughter and her husband live in the upper unit.

$2,600 | Weehawken, N.J.

Occupation: Creative director
Leaving the East Village: “I do miss it from time to time, but it’s not like I can’t go there.”
On Weehawken: Trader Joe’s is about a 15-minute walk away, and a new deli and wine store, The Oak, opened nearby. But dining options are a little limited. “There are some local places and some nice restaurants nearby in Union City.”
His landlords: They’ve lived in the house for decades. “Luckily they found something that had not been destroyed,” he said of the home’s well-preserved interiors.

“I can’t really say my landlords are family, but it feels familial,” he said. “They invite me for holidays. I don’t have a car, and when they went to Florida last year, they were like, ‘Here are the keys. You can use it.’ ”

The generous attitude extended to giving Mr. Gargiulo a break on rent when he first moved in, before he was able to find a roommate. That’s been the main downside to living in Weehawken: It can be hard to find roommates.

“It’s always taken me a while to find people to move in here,” he said. “It’s not Brooklyn. It’s not even Jersey City or Hoboken. It’s the unknown.”

Also, there’s no train. The best option for getting into Manhattan is the bus. On occasion, he’ll spring for the ferry, but it’s less convenient for him and a one-way ticket costs $9.

The bus, though, is a hard sell for many New Yorkers. And there are few alternatives for the budget conscious. A recent prospective roommate who hadn’t lived in the New York area before wasn’t concerned by the lack of a train; she told him she biked everywhere. He felt obliged to point out that since the Lincoln Tunnel wasn’t an option, she would have to bike to either the PATH train in Hoboken, the ferry, or else cross at the George Washington Bridge far uptown. She didn’t take the apartment.

After an unsuccessful attempt to find a roommate this spring, Mr. Gargiulo decided to use the other half of the apartment as an office.

“But I’m enjoying all the space now,” he said. “It’s just so beautiful. It gets so much light. It’s been really lovely to be here during this time.”

During the height of the pandemic, Mr. Gargiulo, an avid baker, would drop off baked goods for his neighbors, and they would bring by food as well, including an occasional cocktail left in front of his door.

“There’s something so hometown about Weehawken. I just love it here,” he said. “In some ways, being here all the time and Covid made it even friendlier.”

Sahred From Source link Real Estate

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