“Some people have small places and it’s O.K. because they go out all the time, but we hang out at home,” Mr. Danford said.
Mr. Argenziano, 41, a native of Naples, Italy, soon convinced him that gaining control over their housing situation was imperative.
So last spring, the couple went on the hunt for a dog-friendly, one-bedroom co-op with plenty of counter and closet space. Their budget was up to $550,000. They preferred a work commute of no more than 45 minutes.
“There were certain train lines it didn’t make sense for us to be on,” said Mr. Danford, who works at Grace Church on Broadway in Manhattan, south of Union Square. Mr. Argenziano is a studio director for a performance artist in SoHo.
They headed to Washington Heights, which had apartments in their price range. In one case, “I was taken in by the view of Fort Tryon Park,” Mr. Danford said. “These things, you can be swayed by. But they are not of ultimate importance. It made me overlook the fact that the apartment itself wasn’t great.”
At an open house in Hudson Heights, they met Christian Lowery, a licensed salesman then at Compass and now at Blu Realty Group. “He saw that I was stressed out, and he said, ‘Have you considered Queens?’” Mr. Argenziano said. “And I said: ‘No. Never in my life. Queens is completely removed from my mind.’”
The couple had rarely been in Queens. But Queens, Mr. Lowery said, “would add more options within their price range.” He lined up an itinerary in Jackson Heights. The couple fell for the neighborhood, diverse and lively, with lovely residential blocks.
They saw a one-bedroom co-op for $340,000, with monthly maintenance of $700. It was on a low floor, with no view, so they passed it by. It later sold for $361,000.
They checked out another one-bedroom, for $389,000 with maintenance of around $600. They were initially unaware that the building would not allow Bruno, their Pomeranian. That one later sold for the asking price.
Then they visited several units at a newly converted co-op, Washington Plaza, including one unit that overlooked the building’s courtyard and fountain. But they preferred a one-bedroom with around 900 square feet and a view of a tree-lined street. Mr. Argenziano, who had once owned a catering business, was thrilled with the kitchen’s counter space.
The apartment included three walk-in closets and two additional closets. The price was $445,000, with maintenance in the mid-$800s.
A pending purchase from another party fell through. The apartment was theirs for the asking price. They arrived last fall, relieved that their housing situation was no longer subject to the whims of others.
“Both of us realize that this is a big step in a financially responsible direction that is a key piece of our retirement plan,” Mr. Danford said.
In Jackson Heights, they have a choice of five subway lines. “It is so freeing to have multiple transportation options,” Mr. Danford said. “It makes us want to go out more on the weekends.”
He works all day Sunday, when sparser subway service makes travel longer. A Sunday trip to church now takes 40 minutes. He used to budget an hour and a quarter.
Mr. Argenziano, who specializes in Italian cuisine and pastries, spends much time in the kitchen. “You know how inconvenient it is to have kitchen appliances inside the cupboard, because you have to take them out and plug them in?” he said. “Now I can turn around and I have all the appliances I need. Coffee maker, Kitchen-Aid, juicer, kettle, toaster, blender, food processor. I am so happy about that.”
He is happy about being in Queens, too. “Being in New York for almost nine years and not considering Queens,” he said, “was the stupidest thing in the world.”