With the Clock Ticking, a Safe Choice


After three years in London, Kristin Petuck Luks and Howard Luks readied themselves to return to New York.

They planned to attend a friend’s wedding earlier this fall. So they flew in for four days, appending an apartment hunt to their wedding trip.

The Lukses had previously lived in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where Mrs. Luks had rented a stabilized two-bedroom apartment in 2001, when she was a student at the Pratt Institute. She is now an architectural designer. Mr. Luks, who had been renting in Manhattan, joined her there a few years after they met through a friend, and they married five years ago.

In London, where Mr. Luks was sent for his job in business development for a software company, they rented in Marylebone, which reminded them of the West Village. Their small one-bedroom had a lofted sleeping area, low water pressure, limited hot water and scant closet space.

“We paid for the quaint neighborhood and centrality with the tiniest apartment we have ever lived in,” Mrs. Luks said.

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BROOKLYN A third-floor walk-up in Carroll Gardens was too close to noisy aboveground subway tracks.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

She craved a second bedroom to use as her home office, where she could spread out her drawings and samples of stone, wood and tile. Ideally, she wanted a charming neighborhood. The budget was $3,500 to $4,200 a month.

With Mr. Luks soon expected in his New York office, the Lukses needed to find a place within days. “Time was not on our side,” Mr. Luks said.

He had an uncle who owned some residential buildings. One two-bedroom in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, was available. The third-floor walk-up, in a converted church building, rented for $3,500.

“I’ve reached the point in life where I don’t want to walk up that many steps,” said Mr. Luks, 43. The aboveground tracks of the F and G trains, which ran noisily nearby, concerned Mrs. Luks, 35.

On Facebook, Mr. Luks’s sister saw an intriguing listing in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, from a friend, Chad Kessler, a salesman at New Millennium Real Estate. So Mr. Kessler took the Lukses to see it. The $4,000 apartment was beautifully renovated, but the second bedroom was more like an extension of the master bedroom with an extra-wide doorway. The departing family’s two young children slept in the extension.

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BROOKLYN An almost-two-bedroom in Cobble Hill was beautifully renovated, but the layout seemed problematic.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

“The bedroom is like an opulent huge parlor, and Kristin wanted an actual office with a door you could close,” Mr. Kessler said.

And if relatives stayed overnight, everyone would effectively be sleeping in the same room.

“My wife is very concerned with layout and gets frustrated with wasted space,” Mr. Luks said. “I am more concerned with amenities, like does it have a dishwasher.”

Mr. Kessler had another building to show, nearby in Boerum Hill. The just-redone two-unit building had two two-bedroom vacancies. One, at $3,750, was too small for their needs. The other had a lovely private roof deck but, at $4,750, was too pricey.

What’s more, construction was still wrapping up. “My wife has enough experience to know that nothing is ever done on time,” Mr. Luks said. They couldn’t wait.

The two were staying at a friend’s place just a few blocks from Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan. Mr. Luks used to live nearby. The location was a 15-minute walk to his office near the Flatiron district. Stuyvesant Town carried no broker fee. It was a solid default option.

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MANHATTAN They opted for a known entity, Stuyvesant Town, where the layout was functional and there were ‘no wild cards.’

Credit
Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

“It is hard when you are under time pressure and moving from a different continent,” Mr. Luks said.

The couple arranged for an appointment the next day, viewing a few two-bedrooms. They took the first one they saw, with plenty of closet space and strong water pressure. The apartment was on a low floor and the day was cloudy, but they knew they could brighten the dark floors with rugs.

They canceled the next day’s appointments in Brooklyn Heights, renting their apartment for $4,200 a month. The rent includes gas and electricity; the charge for air-conditioning is $26.65 per window unit per month.

“We didn’t want to run around anymore,” Mrs. Luks said. “Stuyvesant Town was a known entity. There were no wild cards popping up. The floor plan is really functional, and I am a tough critic.”

Now, though First Avenue is hardly the charming street she had envisioned, the neighborhood is certainly practical. The two enjoy Stuyvesant Town’s community feel, with welcoming neighbors who chat in the elevators and laundry room.

“Everybody seems to know each other,” Mr. Luks said. “There are plenty of older folks who still live here. I have a friend who lives here with her husband and two children, and they are in the building that her grandparents have lived in since her mother was born.”

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