I’ve been living in Manhattan for over 15 years. In this time, I’ve lived in three apartments, all within a five-block radius on the Upper East Side. With each of the moves, I’ve been lucky to upgrade. I started out with a ground floor, dark studio where the futon was my bed and couch. I moved on to a great converted two-bedroom… with a deck! I was lucky enough to have two of my very best friends as neighbors in a five-unit apartment. Pajama parties were the norm and BBQs were held often and fully enjoyed.
After we got married and our second was due to arrive, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to finagle the walk-up with a double stroller, and it would be impossible to fit two cribs in the tiny second bedroom. We moved to a full two-bedroom, doorman, elevator building. We don’t have a deck but do have a community backyard, which is perfect for the kids.
I have always loved the Upper East Side. After all these years I appreciate all the conveniences and familiarities of my neighborhood. The ease to get to family and friends in Westchester, the choice of two great parks a few blocks away and an abundance of great restaurants. We’re lucky to have many great neighborhood schools and there are so many young families that make for a very comfortable feel.
However, when I think of the ideal – when I imagine THE neighborhood, I have always cheated on the Upper East Side. You would think that after a decade-and-a-half of cramped city living, the dream for me would be a five+ bedroom house in bucolic Westchester or Connecticut. The whole nine yards: a giant backyard and a place where closet space is a non-issue. A place with an attic AND a basement as opposed to a storage bin. A house where there’s no need for pull-out couches or trundles because there are actual ‘guest bedrooms’.
Nope, not for me. Nor is the ideal a house by the water – away from the bustle of the city- with ocean views and a mud room to catch the sand from walks on the beach in flip flops. Nope. Not even a 5th Avenue penthouse with park views or a town house in the east 60s with a charming backyard. No.
In my perfect world, I would make a beeline for the West Village. In a heartbeat, it’s the ultimate neighborhood. Ideally, I would like a large loft-like space with full amenities and some sort of outdoor space. But, I’m not picky. I’ll ‘settle’ for a brownstone with a backyard. Give me a place on a cobblestone block where I’m not sure if I’m in NYC or Europe.
Give me the corner bistros, cafes and bars and tiny interesting boutiques. Give me the proximity to the Hudson and the charming neighborhood feel. I’ll sacrifice Best Buy, Staples and H&M for the High Line, Minetta Tavern and Orient Express, ANY day. I make it a point to make dinner plans in the West Village as often as possible. When I get off the L train and walk southwest, I’m simply taken. I have drunk the West Village kool-aid.
While for some, retirement conjures up images of strolls on a beach, or the quiet countryside, I envision growing old with my family on those cobblestone streets, fully appreciating this enchanted part of the city. One day, I want to have a home on Jane or Horatio or Perry. One of the homes I’ve so often peeked into while walking by and wished was my own!
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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