Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

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7 Things Empty Nesters Need To Know Prior To Starting Their NYC Home Search

Many people choose to leave the New York when they begin to start a family in order to obtain more space for their families and have access to excellent suburban schools. A growing number of people who have raised their children in the suburbs and now looking to return to the city. There are also empty nesters who are choosing to move to New York for the first time to be nearer to their adult children. New York is home to 1.4 million people over 60 and that number is expected to grow 40% by 2040 according to the department of aging.

Whether your decision is to move to be closer to your children, be near cultural activities or downsize from a house to a full-service building NYC has a lot to offer to empty nesters.

Here’s What You Need To Know

1. Get your finances in order- Talk to your wealth advisor to help you determine how much to spend on a rental or purchase. If you plan to rent and don’t work you will need to hire an Insurant who will guarantee your lease. You may need this even if you have $5 million in the bank. Landlords don’t care about cash. They look at income. If you are purchasing even paying all cash you may need a guarantor in order to get board approval or put many months of monthly charges in escrow. If you are financing you will need a guarantor in order to obtain a mortgage.

2. Find the neighborhood that fits your lifestyle – The Upper East Side and Upper West Side tend to be good fits for empty nesters due to their relative tranquility of lifestyle. The Sutton Place & Beekman area allows for a very relaxing lifestyle and is a short distance to all that Midtown has to offer. Lincoln Center area is a good choice because of all the cultural activities and proximity to Central Park. Downtown areas that tend to be more tranquil are Gramercy Park , the West Village, Tribeca and Battery Park City. That said some may just want to jump right into very busy areas like Chelsea, The Highline, SoHo etc. Your real estate broker can give you great guidance when it comes to selecting a neighborhood.

3. Be realistic about the space you need. You may know you don’t want the work that comes with owning a house or a three-bedroom apartment but don’t think that a one bedroom in a new development may be just what you need than find out you feel cramped after a year or so. You may be better off with an older renovated unit that costs less than new development. Also, it is very important that you can afford the amount of space you desire. If you are not seeing enough apartments in your price range then you may want to consider having your broker find you some properties that are off market. Off market listings can be a good resource for you in this case.

4. What amenities are important to you? NYC has many buildings that offer amenities from full service with concierges, common spaces, roof decks, gyms, pools etc. All these amenities can be alluring initially however what is most important is how comfortable you are going to be living in the apartment. That should be your first priority. The most important amenity to my clients is having a 24-hour door man who can receive packages, dry cleaning and provide extra building security. Some empty nesters may find that the amenities such as a gym, pool etc. are nice they prefer private spaces instead. One thing that many of my empty nester clients prefer is outdoor space. They feel that they are giving up a lot to move to the city and prefer a terrace where they can relax and have a drink.

5. Should you rent or buy? It is important to think about your timeline. If you want to live in the city for a long time than purchasing may be the right option for you. If you decide to rent then living in a rental building may be your best choice because you can stay as long as you like. If you are subletting a condo the owner may choose to sell his or her unit after a number of years. That said I have some investment clients who have owned their condos long-term so renting in a condo with a long-term investor is less risky. Empty nesters may want to rent first to try out a neighborhood to see if it is a good fit. Renting is a good way to try out a neighborhood.

6. Accessibility in the future – Check to see if the building has ramps in the event that you may become less mobile. Look to see if there are any areas in the apartment that could become problematic if you become less mobile. If there are issues can they be resolved through renovation?

7. Transportation – Living near public transportation is key if an empty nester is still working. If you need to get to midtown or other areas of the city are not that great than you can afford to expand the areas of your search. Via where you share a ride and Uber have become real game changers for people who don’t need to use transportation to go daily to work. Many of my clients that move from the suburbs to the city have a hard time downsizing to the number of cars they own. If you decide that you want to have a car in the city be prepared for looking for garage space. You will find that the monthly garage prices will vary depending on location. For example, if you purchase an apartment from Park to Fifth Avenue and want to park your car in a garage located in this area you will pay a much higher monthly charge than if you choose to park your car much further east. Parking in a lesser location may work out well for you if you are not using your car frequently.

Many of my clients who have moved back to the city are very happy about their decisions and are enjoying all that NYC has to offer. Thinking about moving to Manhattan! Please contact me with any of your questions.