Our little Manhattan apartment is way, way uptown—further up than even the Upper West Side and Harlem—in a neighborhood that, depending on who you talk to, might technically be part of Hudson Heights or Inwood, but is most often considered to be Washington Heights.
(Fun fact: Our neighborhood in Newburgh is also called Washington Heights. Crazy! That George Washington sure liked high places overlooking the Hudson, didn’t he? Well, yeah, okay, I guess that makes sense now that I say it out loud…)
I’m not sure I’d ever even heard of Washington Heights until we started looking for a pied-à-terre, but once we’d been up here and done some research, it just made so much sense:
1. The rent is cheap. You can get a studio up here for $1000-1200, 1BR for $1200-1300, 2BR for $1300-1700. And the apartments are HUGE! We were kind of astonished by how spacious the rentals are, especially in the pre-war buildings where the walls haven’t been moved all over the place.
2. It’s dog-friendly. Everyone has a dog up in WH. Even big dogs! The landlords seem to be very lax about pets in general. I like that.
3. It’s quiet and pretty. Unless you’re living right on Broadway with an apartment over a nightclub, it’s pretty much dead silent after 8:00 PM. I can hear dogs barking from miles away in the middle of the night. I can see the stars at night, too!! And there are lots of trees.
4. It’s close to the George Washington Bridge. This is essential if you regularly leave the city to go upstate like we do. Our proximity to the GWB means that we can be at our house in just over an hour, door to door.
5. Parking is not insanely expensive. Yes, we use our car to go back and forth between the house and the apartment, because Metro-North is REALLY EXPENSIVE. It’s cheaper to just pay for a monthly space in the garage around the corner. (We would lose our minds trying to deal with street parking. It’s impossible.)
6. Fort Tryon Park. I can’t say enough how amazing it is to have this place for a back yard (well, front yard, actually—our window overlooks the east side of the park). Fort Tryon Park is just incredibly beautiful, with hills and indigenous rocks and fabulous landscaping and secret paths and tiny old buildings and steep staircases everywhere…all of it leading up to perfectly clear, unblocked views of the Hudson River and Palisades (and you know how I feel about the Hudson River). PLUS! The Cloisters! The Cloisters are in Fort Tryon Park! How amazing is that?!
7. It’s easily accessible to the rest of the island. I walk half a block to the subway, and I can be in midtown in about 35 minutes. This was top priority, obviously, since our whole purpose in renting the apartment was to ease the stress of a long commute on late nights or early mornings. It’s made a huge difference. Evan works downtown so it’s a bit longer for him, but still manageable.
The only real downside to the neighborhood is that there is a serious lack of places to hang out, get coffee, eat dinner, especially if you eat vegan. There are definitely mornings when I am DYING for a bagel or an iced coffee, but there’s nowhere around to go. It’s the same story at night—if we want to go out for dinner, we inevitably wind up going to another part of the city. There aren’t really any cute shops, either, but I don’t care about that. This is New York City. That’s what the subway is for.
We picked the right spot to get a little place, for sure. I feel like I discovered a secret land up in Washington Heights. It may not be “cool”, but neither are we…it’s a perfect fit.