Monday, July 14, 2008

Hoboken Is Like Paris

July 14, 2008

I know it's a stretch, but I also was pretty sure that title would get your attention.

Here's the point: Now that I'm in a position to think about looking for a better apartment -- my house in Fairhope has been sold, and my financial position is considerably improved. I watch (compulsively, perhaps) the Home and Garden cable TV network, seeing such shows as "Get It Sold," "House Hunters," "Designed To Sell," and so on. I even like "Sell This House," "Moving Up," "Property Ladder," and "Flipping Out," on other channels.

But one evening I was watching "House Hunters International" and saw a lovely, whippet-slim English model who was looking for a better apartment in Paris than the one she lived in. I've been to Paris many times and know the vicissitudes of European plumbing and the inadequacy of many of their kitchens. (I was told when I lived in Geneva, the small kitchens and wonky appliances were the result of the Swiss penchant for eating out or having events catered; it could have been that these cultural differences were actually that people ate out or brought in because the kitchens were so small, but that's not the way they see it.)

So here's this glamorous model, upgrading her necessities in the City of Light. She says to the realtor, "I'd love to find a place where I wouldn't have to walk up three or four flights of stairs. But then, this is Paris, and that's the price one expects to pay to live in a beautiful old flat in Paris."

I look out the window at Hudson Street -- beautiful old 19th Century mansions, now being rented out floor by floor as apartments -- and can say the same thing. "Well, this is Hoboken, and to live in a beautiful old place, you're probably going to have to live in an apartment three or four flights up."

In some ways, it's like Paris.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was, at one time, like a European city.....working class city, please.
And perhaps, on Hudson St. it remains the same.
However, with the conversion (or desimation) of tenements and the new Hobokenites absolute NEED for luxury, Hoboken now looks like any other upstyle city (I made that word up, I think).
Because a lot of the recent college grads come from suburban homes, walking up a few flights of stairs is just not gonna happen for them.
You keep will find your place in Hoboken. At least I hope you do. I love this blog.

Mary Lois said...

This blog loves you too!

I don't need luxury, but need charm and convenience to transportation, etc. Granite countertops? I don't like 'em. Bay windows? I like them enormously. Walking up stairs? Come on, it's an old town; the best apartments are on the upper floors, and climbing stairs is good for you.

Finding out about old Hoboken? Now, that's a trip!

Steve said...

I believe you've found yourself in Hoboken!

Unknown said...

I lived in a 4th floor apt, growing up.

I recently went back to working in NYC... While chatting with my brother , I boasted about the terrific view of the empire state bldg, from my office window.

He quipped " did you forget? we had that same view looking out our kitchen window?"

It was a great unobstructed view of NYC.

And yes, our Baby Grand Piano fit nicely in our Living Room bay windows,

Mary Lois said...

Steve, if that's the case, do I have to change the name of the blog? Or just stop blogging? Success is so confusing!

Karen, when you were a little kid you didn't think twice about climbing all those stairs either. But you have a point -- the higher the floor, the better the view!

Anonymous said...

Living on the top floor of any building in hoboken is more fun. Ya got the roof you can hang out on (tar beach). THE VIEWS are great, CLIMBING THE STEPS to the top floor does cause you to talk French when you finally arrive, throwing in a few GABBY HAYS curse words in between. BUT it was worth the trip. GOING DOWN is always a more fun trip, ZIPPING DOWN THE BANNISTERS and getting to the bottom in record time -- BOY WHAT A RIDE! After a few times ya get the hang of it.

Anonymous said...

news flash: no one is buying anything. We are all broke. The nation is broke. We are in for tough times.

So, honey. I mean, sweetie. Put yourself in a seller's position: You have a great place worth an easy what, half a mill? Two years ago? At least that's what the realtors told you when you bought it and remodeled. Now your circumstances have changed, you must move, and suddenly time is a factor. Yes, it's worth $500K, but you gotta move it. You've just fallen in love with a novelist from Fairhope, AL and be damned, you'll list it for $415 but you'll settle for what you paid, $350, then someone offers you $325. You could wait around, but this is a genuine offer. Your honey is making waves in another part of the country and damn, you gotta move now or be swamped. You take the offer.

Make an offer.

All they can do is say no.

Mary Lois said...

Salesman, I'm sure your comment made good sense to you when you made it, but for the life of me I can't see what it has to do with anything.

I've moved away from the real estate market and feel pretty lucky to be out of it for now.

On the other hand, in some ways Hoboken is like Paris, and I'm happy to be casually looking for a better place to rent.

Sweetie, I mean honey. The stock market went up over 200 points yesterday. I don't expect it to do the same today -- and I sold my house at a loss -- but I've got a little walkin' around money for the short term. That's more than I could have said a month ago.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so oblique.

You were a seller a few weeks ago. You sold for (you know). Now you're a buyer. Buy like you know what a semi-desperate seller will settle for is what I was trying to say.

I thought you were looking to purchase rather than rent. My apologies. Rental market in NYC and outlying environs is largely unchanged by the economic downturn.

Anonymous said...

River Road (from 11th street down to 4th used to be cobblestones, and there were a few downtown, I think the street by the PATH station was cobblestone. If you live on Hudson Street, we lived on 12th and Hudson, when I was in college my parents moved to 921 Hudson Street, rented an apartment that was big, it had very high and ornate ceilings, with a non working fireplace in the living room.

Think of the other similarities between Hoboken and Paris (ok, maybe Milan or Dublin too)

* Churches
* Walkable streets
* Lots of small retail businesses
* River views
* Nice parks
* Not sparkling clean but they tried

Like you I spent time in Europe mostly on business, and many cities reminded me of Hoboken. In Paris I used to stay by Place Republique, and that had a similar feeling to Hoboken. You did not really understand it when you grew up in Hoboken, but there was much to explore. You were obviously near NYC for all that had including plays and sports. A bus, the tubes, or a ferry got you there. Palisades Amusement park was just another bus ride. Journal Square had the big movie theatres so that was visited often. The ferries were great, if you got up front you were splashed with spray from the boat. Cars and trucks also went by the ferry, so there was usually lots of action to see.

Mary Lois said...

I'd like to know what your Hudson St apartment rents for today. Never mind, whatever it may be, if it still exists, it's out of my price range.

Unknown said...

You're so right, Mary Lois.

I never thought twice about those stairs. And I climbed them many times in a single school, home for lunch..back to school, home from school..out to dance class, home again, out to play..dinner..back out to play. you get the idea..
I was a skinny kid, then. Wish I had those stairs to climb, now. A "free"