Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

An Update on our House Hunting and How We’ll Become Millionaires in Six Months


You didn’t click on that thinking I had the solution to getting rich, did you?  Oh, bless your heart. You did.

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I am looking for tips on how to become a millionaire in six months. Because most of the time, Vin and I feel like that’s what needs to happen in order to buy a decent-looking property in a safe, convenient neighborhood in New York City.

Sorry if this title was misleading. This post is really just an update on our housing situation. This past year has been all about saving for our first home purchase. We talk about it incessantly. Zillow and Street Easy are the new Facebook, refreshed constantly. I pin images of pristine white kitchens and he dreams of a covered place to park his car.  I allow myself to dream too…about how much easier this process would be ANYWHERE BUT HERE. Vinny never has those dreams. That man is a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. His heels are dug into the concrete and they’re never leaving.

DSC_0739Cell phone right hand + hot beverage left hand = True New York style

So here we are. Still in our garden-level apartment in Queens, collecting nickels and crossing our fingers that rubbing enough of them against one another will scrabble together a down-payment for a house. This is another area where Vin is standing firm– we are buying a house, not a condo or co-op. It must be in New York City– not Jersey or Westchester or Connecticut or Long Island. And the kind of house we buy must accommodate more than one-family, so we can have tenants rent out the other floor and help us pay off the mortgage. It’s actually a really smart plan, and a great way to invest.



<For non- NYC folks, these are the types of houses we’re interested in buying. Nothing flashy. Almost always attached, with two or three separate apartments inside. It’s the kind of house Vin grew up in, with all three floors occupied by family. But we want strangers so we can take their money. Yay!!  >

There are only a few problems. Multi- family houses are plentiful, stunning, and in immaculate condition in a few beautiful areas of Brooklyn like Cobble Hill, Park Slope and Fort Greene. Hooray, right?! But don’t throw any confetti our way- they are almost always several million dollars. I don’t know if you have gleaned this from me and Vin by reading this blog, but…we do not have several million dollars or a down payment befitting such a purchase. That’s some Sarah Jessica Parker shit.

We’d love a multi-family home in Queens, but we’re having trouble finding any in areas we’d consider living, or would have an easy time finding renters.  The neighborhood where we live now offers almost nothing. No one’s selling. The few who are are charging an absolute fortune or accepting only cash offers. CASH OFFERS! Who are these people that can give cash offers on a freakin’ house?!!

DSC_1349Perchance to dream–our ultimate NYC abode. We would rather live in one of these babies than a mansion anywhere else. The Brooklyn brownstone. Siiiiiiiiiigh.

And then there are the old-school brownstones in the “still up and coming” neighborhoods of Brooklyn. They are listed with hyperbole like “You can’t find prices like this anymore!” next to a soul-crushing number like $900,000.

Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx are not on the table. We’d be open to Harlem, but are probably already priced out of that area.

Anyway, Vin and I took another step yesterday and attended our very first open house. Actually we found one open house on Zillow, and there just happened to be about five other open houses going on at the same time in that area. That area was Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

I believe the term they use for people like us is gentrifiers.

The first house we stumbled on by accident was absolutely beautiful. It was completely restored with exposed brick and pretty mantles and an enormous basement. The third house we ended up seeing was shown by the same well-known realty company and was in equally great condition. Still, they were both so modern and polished (and uh, expensive), and we’ve always kind of hoped for something with a bit of character, something we can really pour our own personalities into.

Enter House #2. Holy shit was this place a dump. The minute I walked in, I felt afraid for my own safety. The walls, the ceilings, the stairs, the floors– they all looked one big sneeze away from completely caving in. Walls and floors were rotting. The ceiling looked craggly and loose, like cottage cheese. It had clearly been neglected for over a decade and had likely housed a gang of squatters.

pink fireplace

This was the only redeeming quality of the house. Oh, I’m a sucker for these. But seriously, that was it. I’m not spending $800,000 for a money pit with one pretty feature.


There was crap everywhere. Boxes of crap. Piles of crap. Just unexplainable crap. You can’t see it in this picture, but there was an enormous family-sized can of creamed corn just hanging out in the corner. So much for home staging.

i have no words

 This was taped to a door in the renter’s basement apartment. I don’t…I just…I don’t know anymore.  All I can say is, I could actually picture someone dying in this house, so our hunt continues.

And we’ve only just begun…

Wish us luck.

Give us strength.

Send us money.

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • Jillian
    Girl. I feel your pain. I really do. Bob was hardcore about not leaving the city too, until we actually started looking at places in earnest. But yeah, it looks like you guys are in it for the long haul! I commend you! I wish I wasn’t leaving Queens, but I’ve (kind of) come to terms with it. I have no good advice for you unfortunately. Except maybe make friends with a really old person who lives in a nice house and has no family to pass it down to. Have you tried looking in Jackson Heights? Not sure what the multi-family home situation is in that area (we were looking for condos), but it seemed pretty affordable for NY prices. We also looked in Kew Gardens which had a nice selection of reasonably-priced homes, though the public transport options were sucky. Last pic is TOO hilarious.
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      I’m totally open to Jackson Heights, and I like it because it’s busy, multi-ethnic and close to the city (kind of a high priority for us, which is why the costs are making us weep). Did you use a local realtor, or did you find someone in Jersey? May I ask what part of Jersey you ended up finding your house?
      • Jillian
        When we looked in NY, we just went to open houses. No realtor. But when we started looking in Old Bridge, NJ, we had (and still have) a realtor. That’s where my parents are, though we really started looking there because public transportation was very convenient to both of our jobs and the houses were in our price range. I’d lived in OB for about 5-6 years, so I was already familiar with the area too. Just made sense! I know I’ve wished you luck before, but good luck again! I hope you guys find what you’re looking for!
        • Jenn from much to my delight
          I just started sleuthing around Hoboken and Jersey City and the looks of those places (and prices) impress me WAY more than Queens. Now I just have to convince Vin. I’ll check out OB too. Thanks!
          • Jillian
            Yes, Jersey City is a good place to look! It’s like 2 seconds from Manhattan on the Path train. We started looking there too and found some really nice places. I forget why we decided against it? Maybe even Weehawken, if you’re going to be looking in Hoboken, since it’s practically Hoboken anyway. OB is a little farther out – about a 50 min bus ride from midtown. Not too bad, but def not as good of a commute as JC. Although, I don’t want to talk you out of looking there. It’d be great to have a friend in the area! haha.
  • Meg
    Oh, house hunting. It was stressful (and expensive) in the D.C. suburbs, so I can only imagine what y’all are going through! We saw quite a few frightening places before we eventually stumbled upon our dream house, which was a foreclosure, and have had so much fun revamping it (and making it less cold and scary). I know the perfect place is waiting for you and Vin — and even though it sounds crazy, especially when you’re touring places that make you feel like you might get dragged into a rabid rat’s den, looking really can be half the fun. I kind of miss constantly refreshing and Zillow — you just never know what’s out there. You’ll find it. :)
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Yeah, DC area ain’t cheap either! I’m trying to see it as a great adventure, and will try not to let myself get too down or frustrated when faced with ugly, expensive places. In the meantime, I guess I just need to keep working my butt off to keep saving!.
  • Sonya
    When you finally find a place, it will be the right one for you guys. It is difficult to have patience in the mean time though, I completely understand.
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Thanks Sonya. Yes, I’m beginning to see this will be a very long road and patience will be required:).
  • The McCleary
    Vin and I grew up in the same neighborhood. I know his pain. I stayed even after kids, so I could be a quick ride away from the boys. I also know the pleasure of living in a small town with a big house. A nice walk to the lake. Singing Christmas carols around the town tree. Having local theaters and non-chain stores where people know who you are. It was a tough sell for me and tough transition. I have a Q tattoo for Queens, so I never forget where I came from, but appropriately it is on my back, behind me.
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Thanks for this comment, Joe. Vin really, really struggles with the idea of leaving Queens (or Brooklyn). I think I am more open to a change because I’m just more used to change than he is, and because (admittedly) Queens does not have quite the same sentimental value to me as it does to him. I appreciate hearing your perspective as someone who’s also gone through that transition.
  • Nicole Marica
    While I envy you for living in NYC (always been a dream of mine but I’m too much of a naive wuss) I definitely do not envy you regarding purchasing a home here. Good luck!
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Never a truer statement made, Nicole. It’s a horrible thing when you’re having a discussion with coworkers, and they say, “Oh, $900,000…that’s a pretty good deal!”. Ugh.