I haven’t thus far gone into much detail about our lives in New York City (I wrote out plenty about it on HalfClassicSix), but suffice to say, we were very fortunate to been able to build and live a reasonably comfortable middle-class life in a fabulous classic apartment (circa 1910) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Pretty much everything on Our Philly Row has been about… Well, Our Philly row…. But meanwhile, back in Manhattan, we have been preparing our apartment to get it ready to sell so we can finally transition our lives to Philly. We bought our 800 square foot one bedroom apartment in 2014, shortly after getting married. It is our first home together, and we bought it with the idea that it would be our forever home. After all, we were die hard New Yorkers with no intentions of ever leaving. Fast forward to the fall of last year when the idea of our apartment and ultimately New York City as being our forever home began to shift and evolve.
And then a year ago last weekend, Y and I boarded a Philadelphia bound Greyhound Bus (because we are “klassy” like that) for a ride that would change our lives. This was our first trip together to Philly and our intent was to visit the city to get a feel for for whether or not we could envision leaving our Manhattan lives to begin a new life there. Once in Philly, we dropped our bags at an adorable tiny 550 square foot, three story Trinity house in Rittenhouse Square. We knew we were preparing for an adventure into the unknown, but little did we know we had already seen photos of our future and the seed had already been planted for what would become our new home.
When I first stumbled across the listing photos of the Federal street house in mid November, I saw interiors untouched by time (in a good way and a not so good way), as well as tired but still there features long ago stripped away from the vast majority of Philly rowhouses, I became completely enamored with it and quickly added it to my favorites on Zillow. We only had a weekend in the city, and we planned to go to as many open houses as we could fit in (because it is completely normal to go to open houses when you travel, right?). I had hoped we could somehow weave a walk-by of the house on Federal Street into our walking about the city, and sure enough, we were in the neighborhood in the late afternoon, but by then we were pooped, and I gave up on walking an additional 5 blocks to see it because the particular area we were in didn’t look very nice (I pre-judged without any basis beyond immediate appearance).
After returning to New York from our first weekend in Philly, I got started planning our next trip for early January. Based on the six open houses we saw on our first visit, I drew lines on a map for the boundaries of where we wanted to search. I dubbed it the “Zone of Acceptability”. It is not that houses outside of the zone were not worthy…. It is just that we had determined that we wanted to stay within a very specific area for proximity to things. As it turned out, Federal street was just too far outside of the zone (but I had kept it in my favorites on Zillow).
Now we needed a realtor and we had no idea where to start. We thought about the agents we had met at all of the open houses, and only one of them, Josh, stood out. He was the selling agent for the house on Carpenter Street, he was professional and friendly, we got a good vibe from him… We also really liked the house he was selling because it offered a lot of space for the money including a third floor which I could use as a studio. So for our second trip, we reached out to him and arranged for him to get us a private showing at the Carpenter Street house as well as several other houses. Even though I had already made up my mind about not living south of Washington Blvd, I had him include the Federal Street house because I was just so damned curious to see it. The day before we left, Josh called to let me know that one of the houses we wanted to see was off the market, and another was in contract, which left us with only three houses to see. On January 7th of this year, Josh took us to the house and WOW….. Everything changed…. Including my “Zone of Acceptability”. (The whole Wow house story can be read in Part I and Part II.)
We took possession of our home on March 17th and somehow thought we could just turn our attention back to getting the NYC apartment ready and on the market by June. We figured we could be moved into our house by October. We plan… God laughs! Instead of focusing on getting the apartment ready, we had to deal with unexpected electrical and structural issues at the house which delayed our getting the apartment ready for months… And months…
Finally after our annual July week in Provincetown, we ignored the house and put all of our energy into getting the apartment ready to list. With a punch list more than 40 items long, including such things as: fix the bedroom door which was broken when we bought the apartment, install the custom bathroom vanity, re-install the two 99″ tall doors in the kitchen closets, repaint the entry hall, paint the bedroom, remove and carefully pack our fabulous chandelier, paint the living room ceiling to a pale gray, and hang the new fixture… And on, and on… It was a litany of tasks which took more than two months, and required hiring some outside help, as well as spending every single weekend in full on “Get this sh*t done!” mode. But we did it!
Finally, in early October, four months past our initial goal, our apartment was on the market. The apartment has been dumbed down to make it easier to sell… gone is the black ceiling in the living room, and the dark raspberry hallway, but it is still a beautiful place. During our three years in the apartment, we managed to transform it from a sad rental with good bones to an amazing home with a glorious kitchen. And we really did think we would never leave. We make plans, God laughs. Here is a tour of our Manhattan apartment as it is now. Just imagine what we can do to Our Philly Row….
There you have it! Our Manhattan apartment has been a wonder place to call home and we will miss it dearly (especially the kitchen). As for selling the apartment? We had several open houses, and feedback has been hugely positive. People absolutely love the kitchen, they love how generous the room sizes are and they love our style. Our realtor refers to our style as cheeky, I say it is just us. Oh….. And one more thing…. After less than 50 days on the market, we went into contract (Woo Hoo!) with a closing date around the beginning of February.
Now this sh*t has gotten very real! We really are moving to Philly!