2011 Jul 25th

When the Math Says Go Ahead and Buy – in Hoboken!

There was an article in the Real Estate section of yesterday’s New York Times about a young guy who was ready to leave his roommates behind and get a place of his own.  Zach Linder’s budget for rent was between $1,400 and $1,500.  After exploring  Brooklyn’s rental market and finding nothing but too-small studios, he smartly decided it made more sense to buy.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart enough to think of Hoboken.

He set out searching for a co-op in Brooklyn for under $300,000 with maintenance in the low $700s.  His price range limited him to studios.  A co-op seriously limits his ability to rent the property out should he outgrow it in the future. He ultimately bought a unit in Prospect Heights for $223,000 but it was in need of electrical and plumbing work.  The building is on Plaza Street East,  very near the Grand Army Plaza stop of the 2 and the 3 trains and seven stops from Wall Street.   Had he only come to Hoboken!Kitchen 201 wash

Today in Hoboken, Mr. Linder could have his choice of 41 different units – all condos – for under $300,000.  Only four are studios, the other 36 are 1-bedrooms and one is a 2-bedroom.    For practically the same price he paid, there is a gorgeous alcove studio at  201 Washington with a brand new kitchen & bath, stainless appliances, a wood-burning fireplace, laundry downstairs and private garage! It’s listed at $229,900 with taxes and maintenance under $618 a month.  Its three blocks from the PATH and three stops to World Trade.


Personally, I would have gone for the upper end of his budget and selected the 1-bedroom at 1115 Willow.  This property is over 650 square feet with a private entrance and room for a grill.  The building has an in-ground pool, a gym and a roof deck, an elevator and is professionally managed.  The bus to Port Authority in midtown stops on the corner.  It is listed at $299,000 with taxes and maintenance of $677.

If space were the primary concern, I’d choose the 1-bedroom plus den at 841 Willow which is over 880 square feet for an asking price of under $300,000.   It has a windowed kitchen, room for a dining table, storage space and is a corner unit with city views.  While I am a sucker for a New York City view,  even though I was born in Brooklyn, I am no longer a sucker for a New York City address.

  1. homeboken

    That is the biggest problem with young kids that live in the city. You will never get them to move out of the city, even if it means living 9 stops on the local into Brooklyn. To them, living in NJ makes one a social outcast. I am not saying it is true, but your stats don’t lie. Hoboken condo’s just don’t command the premium that the NYC address does.
    I don’t get it either, I have lived in Hoboken for the last 11 years. I got my girlfriend (now wife) to move out of NYC and into Hoboken. Once she spent some time here, and realized how much more you get for your money, it was a no brainer. Too bad that is the exception and not the rule.

  2. 'boken

    I would agree with homeboken. Born in Brooklyn myself, it was tough to make the move to NJ. But I’m sure glad I did. I just say Hoboken instead…keeps the stigma down. 😉 But as I have many friends in the city, I knew I had to get a place by the train, as taking a bus or a long walk from the train station would have festered the “ughh..why did you move to the sticks…” mentality.

  3. Craig

    I too got my significant other to move to Hoboken – and she was born and raised in NYC. She now thanks me for moving her here and we love our life here. That said, I would never argue Hoboken is overall a better place to live than the city – it’s not. It’s a wiser choice if you’re middle to upper middle class because of the value factor for sure, as most of us are priced out of the most desirable homes in the city. But if any of you had unlimited funds and could afford whatever apartment you wanted at any price, how many would honestly choose Hoboken over Manhattan? Of course that’s the downside of the city – you have to be wealthy to enjoy a good quality of life there.

    Anyone ever see “Selling New York” on HGTV? The few “entry-level” homes they show are how I’d want to live in the city. But the prices are so far outside of my reality it’s not even funny. I’ve yet to see even a modestly-finished 2 bedroom on that show for less than $900k. So Hoboken it is until I hit the lottery.

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