They took their budget from Brooklyn to New Jersey for more value. Which house would you choose?


Three years ago, when Tom Chu and Janet Huang decided to move in together, only one of them had to move. Mr. Chu lived in Murray Hill with a roommate, while Ms. Huang rented a one-bedroom in a new tower in downtown Brooklyn.

“It was super convenient,” Ms. Huang said of her seat. “Everything I needed was there – all the stores, banks, doctor’s offices, cafes, Trader Joe’s.”

So Mr. Chu packed his bags and moved to Brooklyn – which was fine until the couple, now both 30 and engaged, found themselves working from home. Ms. Huang, a product manager for a media company, worked from the kitchen counter or from the bed. “I was constantly talking,” she said. “We couldn’t have meetings at the same time.

Mr. Chu, who works in finance, has set up his computer screens on a side table in the living room. And their energetic dog, Goose, begged to play fetch. “The three of us were walking on each other’s feet, figuratively and literally,” Chu said.

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The couple wanted an apartment with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen that they could occupy at the same time. They considered renting a two-bedroom apartment in their apartment building, but figured the nearly $ 4,000 a month it would cost would be better spent on a mortgage.

Their one bedroom was about 700 square feet. The available two-bedroom co-ops they saw in Brooklyn were about 900 square feet. “It didn’t seem like it was worth going through the process of buying an apartment for an additional 200 square feet,” Mr. Chu said.

And their $ 800,000 budget didn’t seem to get them very far. The listing of a two-bedroom downtown Brooklyn near their rental mentioned “a good view of a grassy area,” Chu said. It turned out to be a place they took Goose for a walk. “It was like a highlight of the apartment, so I had to laugh about it a bit,” he said.

Next, Ms. Huang spotted a list of two rooms in Jersey City, NJ, where Mr. Chu had lived for a year after graduating from Rutgers University. It sounded promising, but she was reluctant to leave Brooklyn. “I don’t know how to drive and I don’t know anything other than taking the metro,” she said. “I didn’t enjoy my time in Syracuse because I felt stuck on campus.”

But after visiting Jersey City, she warmed up to the area – and the condominiums available there. “I didn’t want a cookie-cutter place,” she said. “Tom liked modern developments, but I find these are a bit soul hungry, a bit Pinterest-y. That wasn’t my vibe.

Online, they found Joelle Chilazi, a Compass agent. “I have a lot of clients looking in Brooklyn and Jersey City at the same time,” she said. “Two out of three times they choose Jersey City because you get more for your money.”

Among their options:

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