A Studio Apartment for Two Men and Three-Dogs


Isaac Mahone and Marcus Arnett, who lived in San Antonio, visited New York often. After you visit the city, Mr. Mahone said, “that’s where you want to live.”

The men, both 34, met as students at the University of Texas at San Antonio. This past summer Mr. Mahone landed a job in Hoboken, N.J., as a transaction coordinator for a real estate company, and they jumped at the chance to relocate. Mr. Arnett, who is employed in the member-relations department of a financial services company, arranged to work from home.

They put the San Antonio house, which had belonged to Mr. Arnett’s grandmother, on the market. It was small, but it had a yard. The house, in the Highland Park neighborhood, sold for around $107,000.

For their three dogs, all husky mixes, the couple needed an ultra-pet-friendly building, preferably with outdoor space. They preferred a Midtown or downtown Manhattan location so Mr. Mahone could easily reach his Hoboken office via subway and PATH train.

Their budget for a rental apartment was around $2,500 a month. “We knew we were pretty limited,” Mr. Mahone said. “We knew New York was expensive. We didn’t want to blow all our money on rent.”

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MANHATTAN The prospective renters, visiting a building on East 32nd Street, thought the area was too commercial.

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Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

The couple, who were married earlier this year, were in close touch with a Citi Habitats salesman who became ill just as they were flying up for an apartment-hunting trip. So the agent referred them to a colleague, Lex Wang, also a salesman there.

“We were very clear that we had three dogs and we knew it was going to be difficult,” Mr. Mahone said. The dogs — Glinda, Elphaba and Fiyero — have names from “Wicked,” one of the couple’s favorite musicals.

They began the hunt at a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up, climbing several flights of stairs to find a small one-bedroom that did not appear to have been renovated, ever. “It was becoming a quick reality check,” Mr. Mahone said. “This is what we were getting.”

Mr. Arnett didn’t mind a place that was “rough around the edges,” he said. So what if the floor was badly gouged. “We could make it look good. You can cover stuff up.”

They moved on, to see a one-bedroom on East 32nd Street. But they could not get in. Another unit in the same building was dark and unprepossessing. The area was not inviting. “It was in the middle of a bunch of tall buildings,” Mr. Wang said. “It was not really a neighborhood.”

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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN The couple liked City Tower, a brand-new high-rise. But they were not sure three dogs would be welcome.

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Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

They headed to a 1961 brick building in Midtown East, near the entrance ramp to the Queensboro Bridge. There they saw an alcove studio on the ground floor with a private fenced patio.

“The building is really dog-friendly,” Mr. Wang said. “We saw, like, four dogs walking out while we were there.”

The couple were surprised how suitable the place was. The rent was $2,700 a month. “It was more than our original budget but within the comfort zone,” Mr. Arnett said.

They had one more place to check out, the new City Tower in Downtown Brooklyn, near an assortment of subway lines. A Brooklyn-to-Hoboken route was doable, but it wasn’t clear whether all three dogs would be allowed. With apartments renting quickly, they didn’t want to wait to find out and in the meantime lose the studio with the patio.

Their paperwork was ready. “Getting an apartment is like applying for a home loan,” Mr. Arnett said. “You have to have this whole package together, which is not like anything you have in Texas.”

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MANHATTAN At a doorman building in Midtown, an alcove studio on the ground floor with a patio pleased men and dogs.

Credit
Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

So they rented the studio in Midtown East and arrived in early fall, paying an extra dog deposit and a broker fee of 15 percent of a year’s rent, or $4,860.

“If you up your budget a little bit, the rent isn’t going to be that much more and you can get what you are looking for,” Mr. Mahone said.

City life is all they thought it would be, punctuated by endless varieties of food. “We’ve tried not to repeat restaurants,” Mr. Arnett said. He appreciates lunchtime delivery. “I use GrubHub,” he said. “It’s not like I’m ordering from McDonald’s every day.”

Working from home, he tends the dogs. Fiyero, the largest, likes to lie outside when it’s chilly. “It will be interesting when the snow comes how they react, because we didn’t have that in Texas,” Mr. Mahone said. They have had to train the dogs not to howl at sirens.

During rush hour, the honking from bridge traffic is constant. Some of the traffic officers are entertaining, shouting at motorists. “Often, it’s ‘Come on,’ ‘Hurry up,’ or ‘What are you doing?’ ” Mr. Arnett said.

The neighborhood has plenty of small dogs but few large ones. In Texas, the most frequent comment was, “What a pretty dog.” In New York, people are more impressed by the size of the animals.

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