In the West Village, a Search for Fewer Stairs


So they began looking, in Greenwich Village and nearby areas. “Even though I had big space and amenities, I wanted a neighborhood feel, with local spots,” Mr. Milot said. “In the Financial District, I lived across from Burger King.”

On Spring Street in NoLIta, a one-bedroom for $2,250 had slanted floors, and Ms. Ratliff and Mr. Milot feared the sofa would slide.

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NOLITA A one-bedroom had slanted floors.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Other apartments were small, dark or both, often with odd layouts. “The pictures online were completely inaccurate,” Ms. Ratliff said. “They would use fish-eye lenses to make the room look large, or write things in the listing that weren’t there, like a dishwasher.” She enjoyed touring the apartments, though.

She and Mr. Milot contacted Laura Zente of Waverly Realty Associates, which specializes in the West Village, and Ms. Zente showed them a one-bedroom on Leroy Street for $2,350.

The bedroom was comparatively large, but there was barely room for a sofa in the living room. Mr. Milot thought the place was too small for guests. As Ms. Ratliff recalled, he told her, “Unless you want people hanging out in your bedroom and sitting on your bed, this isn’t going to happen.”

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WEST VILLAGE A small living room meant little room for guests.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Then Ms. Zente took them to a six-story walk-up on a charming block of Christopher Street. Two one-bedrooms were available: one was just a flight up; the other, which had a newer kitchen and a slightly higher price, was three flights up.

They preferred the one on the lower floor, for $2,350. The relatively large living room faced the back, away from street noise. And even with outdated cabinets, limited closet space and a small bathroom, the apartment seemed well worth the money.

They wondered what was wrong with it. Maybe the size? As Mr. Milot said, “It is studio-sized, but it has a door” to the bedroom.

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WEST VILLAGE A one-bedroom of no more than 350 square feet was in a six-story building, but just one flight up. They signed on.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

“It is no bigger than 350 square feet,” Ms. Zente said.

Still, they happily signed on. The broker’s fee was 12 percent of a year’s rent, or $3,384.

The couple moved in this past winter and set to work decorating. “I like to think I’m a little bit handy,” Mr. Milot said — he refurbished some of their furniture — “and Katie has a really good eye.”

The tiny bedroom fits a bed, one end table and a bureau.

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The very small bedroom in the new apartment.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

“The bed touches three walls,” said Ms. Ratliff, who crawls on top of it to change the sheets, tucking them in as best she can.

“It’s a whole process,” she said. “I am on bed duty, and Chet is on garbage and light-bulb duty.” Eventually, she would like to have a bed out in the open, so she can easily change the sheets and put an end table on either side.

They never thought to test the water pressure until they moved in and tried to use the shower. That was when they discovered that the water trickles out. “You feel you still have shampoo in your hair,” Ms. Ratliff said. But they have a workaround: they often shower at the gym.

Even so, they feel they lucked out in finding a place just one flight up. “It’s definitely small, but it functions for us at a steal of a price,” Mr. Milot said.

Now they no longer think twice about running out. “We can run down and grab a bagel,” Ms. Ratliff said. “Before, it was a conversation.”

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