Upper West Side Story: 5 Tips for Renting on the UWS

The Upper West Side is a very popular neighborhood with families and singles alike. From top schools to great nightlife, the area has something to offer everyone. If you’re planning on renting here, these tips can help ensure that you start out your Upper West Side rental life on the right foot.

1. Study up on the local schools

The Upper West Side is big with families, and education is a top priority here. Parents looking to go the public school route should look into schools like P.S. 87 or P.S. 344. P.S. 344, also known as The Anderson School, is a citywide gifted and talented school — which means that interested parties should make sure to get their wee ones prepped for the G&T tests since the top students from around the city will all be vying for a seat here. You’ll also find no shortage of private school options, with schools like the Collegiate School, Trinity School, and Bank Street heading up many wish lists.

2. Figure out what type of rental you want

The Upper West Side is like a dessert sampler of architectural styles. From prewar tenement-style buildings to 19th-century brownstones to towering contemporary high-rises, you’ve got many options to choose from. Do you yearn for the convenience and amenities that come with a doorman building? Do you prefer to work out in your own apartment building’s gym instead of having to hoof it over to the nearest fitness club? Do you love the nooks, crannies, moldings and other classic details that come with brownstone living? Make a checklist of what features appeal to you most, and go from there.

3. Get your financials in order

When you’re ready to pull the trigger on an apartment, make sure that you’ve got the financial requirements ready to go. Generally speaking, landlords want tenants who earn at least 40 times the monthly rent of the apartment. This means that if you find a two-bedroom apartment for $3,500 a month, multiply that number by 40, and that’s what you’ll need to earn on a yearly basis to qualify. Some landlords will allow guarantors, which could include anyone from the Bank of Ma and Pa to an insurer — essentially, anyone who will guarantee that they’ll pay the rent on the apartment if you default.

4. Get to know your neighborhood merchants

One of the best things about the Upper West Side is the sheer number of places that pick up and/or deliver. Whether you want someone to collect your dirty laundry and return it fresh and clean within hours, or deliver steaming bowls of spicy Vietnamese pho to your door on a cold winter night, your heart’s desire is likely a mere cell phone call or website visit away. Familiarize yourself with the merchants in your neighborhood and what their hours are.

5. Estimate your cost of living

Creating a financial breakdown of things like how often you eat out, how many times a week you take a cab, how much …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


Home of the Week: An Irish Countryside Castle

Our focus on our finest international properties enters its last week as we travel to Ardee, Ireland for a look at a castle that looks like it was plucked right off the set of Game of Thrones.

Located in the idyllic Irish countryside, Knockabbey Castle was originally built on over 30 acres way back in 1399. The $2,660,000 property was further extended in 1650 with a six bay, three story Queen Anne extension and once again remodeled in 1754 by the new owner Thomas Tenison (who was the Archbishop of Cantebury). The 11 bedroom estate may be over 600 years old, but the current owner has meticulously renovated and restored the residence and gardens to the highest of standards. The home now features modern aesthetic touches but maintains its signature 14th century look that you’d expect from an ancient European castle.

The estate wouldn’t be complete without phenomenal grounds, and this property certainly does not disappoint! The gardens have undergone major restoration and feature water gardens originally started as early as the 11th century by monks from the local abbey. The entire property is steeped in history and is the embodiment of the distinct eras during which it underwent modifications.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about this beautiful castle listed by Coldwell Banker Estates.

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Former Red Sox Outfielder Johnny Damon Invites Us Inside His Home

This week, we continue our Coldwell Banker Homefield Advantage series with MLB.com as we take a peek into the home of former Boston Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon.

A MLB star for 18 seasons, Johnny Damon always looks forward to coming home after his playing days wrap up. And rightfully so, Damon built his home with fun in mind. From the beach volleyball court to the ping pong table and the music room, this home has plenty to offer in the fun department.

One of just a few players to win World Series rings with both the Red Sox and the Yankees, Damon successfully bridged the most legendary rivalry in baseball. While baseball certainly has a special place in Damon’s life, there’s something that is more important to him. He puts it well when he says, “Home is forever.”

Take a peek into Damon’s fun-filled home in the video below or click here to see more video features of other ball players, including CC Sabathia, Neil Walker and Latroy Hawkins as part of the Coldwell Banker Homefield Advantage.

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Billy Crystal on What His Childhood Home Means to Him

A few weeks ago Victoria Lee wrote about an experience that is almost always met with a profound sense of sadness: “Saying Goodbye to Your Childhood Home“. Saying goodbye to any place we once called home can be difficult, but there’s something doubly hard about leaving the home where we grew up. No matter where life may take us, our childhood home always holds a special place in our hearts.

As I spent a lazy Sunday at my grandparents’ house last weekend (ironically, across the street from my childhood home), we began watching a new comedy special on HBO from one of my favorite actors and comedians, Billy Crystal. In his autobiographical one man show named 700 Sundays, he spends about 2 hours talking about his memories of childhood and the eventual road he took to comedy and acting.

It was a joy to watch Billy Crystal’s love letter to his family and past, but the closing monologue about how he felt about finally leaving his childhood home struck a strong chord with me.

“It was so hard to leave this house
There are so many stories in this house
We grew up here. We ate great food here. We laughed here.
We made people laugh here.
I was a Yankee here. i saw Roger Maris’s 61st home run right here.
I saw Johnny Carson’s first Tonight Show ever right here.
I saw The Beatles here. I saw men walk on the moon here!
I fell in love here. I became a father here.
I mourned here.
It was my house. A lot of stories.”

- Billy Crystal

As Tom Selleck says in our “Your Home” television ad, houses are held together by nails and brick, but homes are made by the life the people within the walls give it. It’s about those “infinite memories” we create within them.

I’m sure we’re all creating amazing new memories wherever we call home now, but there’s something extra special about the homes we grew up in. Here’s to our childhoods, and the wonderful people in our lives that made growing up in our homes a joy.


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Manhattan Neighborhoods That Have It All

People don’t move to Manhattan because they crave uniformity. Manhattan is the wildly diverse cultural mecca that so many people dream of. The great thing about Manhattan neighborhoods is that they each have their own distinct style: Chelsea’s a little bit sassy but has a lot of flair, while Greenwich Village has always been the rebellious but much-loved wild child. Read on for the lowdown on three Manhattan neighborhoods with a healthy dose of what makes New York City fabulous.


If you’re not going to make it to Seoul this year, heading over to Koreatown (or K-Town) would make a terrific backup plan. More of a street than a town, this little stretch of 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth in the heart of Midtown is a bustling mix of commercial buildings, small Korean businesses, and authentic Korean restaurants. Korean cuisine aficionados and wannabees alike can chow down on some spicy bibimbap or some galbitang at the ever-popular (and Gilt-approved) Miss Korea Sun restaurant, overseen by chef Sun Kyu Lee. Get coiffed at the Kim Young Sun salon, get eyelashes out to here from G-Lash, and get your groove on at the 5 Bar Karaoke Lounge. Sure, some of 5 Bar’s songs may have mismatched audio and video tracks, but the place is popular with the locals.

West Village

When it comes to rating Manhattan neighborhoods, it’s impossible to overstate the West Village’s role as cultural arbiter for the city. This slice of downtown Manhattan is a swirly-whirl mix of tiny, cobblestoned streets and commercial thoroughfares filled with creatives and hedge-fund-money types, with a close-knit sense of community that manages to keep it all feeling sane. Dreamers from Oshkosh to Rio flock to this idyllic part of town every day to replicate the stylish West Village lifestyle they’d seen captured so perfectly on shows like Friends and Sex and the City. The area’s beauty and style can almost be a little overwhelming, with the hushed, green beauty of streets like Bank Street intoxicating the senses and the hot-spot-filled Gansevoort Street beckoning with supermodels and swank hotels. Cuisine from every corner of the world can be sampled here, whether it’s New Zealand snapper sashimi from Jean-Georges’ Perry Street or fish tacos from Mary’s Fish Camp so good they’ll make Californians wave the fish taco white flag in defeat.


NoHo (short for “north of Houston Street”) is an area that some would say is just as cool as, if not even a little bit cooler than, its more famous siblings, SoHo and Tribeca. If everyone around you looks like they’ve stepped out of a magazine — well, they probably have. Modeling agencies, advertising agencies, and tons of other creative businesses call NoHo home. This neighborhood’s also got culture in spades, with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Joseph Papp Public Theater being just some of the area’s smartsy-artsy venues. Hungry? Head to Balthazar. Who cares if it’s considered touristy to order the streak frites and the onion soup? They’re delicious. …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


Is My Urban Garden’s Dirt Clean?

I have been anxiously waiting this Memorial Day weekend to bring back to life an overgrown flower bed at our new house in Atlanta. I ended up with extra planting space so decided to let my container herb garden freely spread its roots in the backyard soil. Then it occurred to me this morning that I actually want to eat these herbs but have no idea if my new urban garden soil is safe. Scary thoughts of what could have contaminated the soil started rushing through my mind: Was an old car parked back here for years leaking out who knows what; perhaps a previous owner dumped lead-based paint in the yard; or maybe in the history of this home’s renovations old piping, insulation or shingles were left to sit in the backyard?

This quickly got me searching the interwebs to find out how to get my yard’s soil tested. Unfortunately, those kits I’ve seen (but never really paid attention to) at Lowes are designed to test Ph levels to help you amend the soil. Finding a way test my soil for containments proved to be a much more involved morning research project. Here are some useful findings that I came across and encourage everyone – even those with raised beds (to my surprise) – to think about if they are growing veggies, herbs or fruit in their backyard urban garden:

  1. Testing your soil is a MUST! Beyond lead, there are many other types of containments that could be in your soil. Contact your local cooperative extension to find out how and where to send a sampling of your soil for testing – i.e., a Google search that I used to find mine was “Cooperative Extension DeKalb County GA.”
  2. According to the University of Georgia Extension, vegetable gardens should be tested every one to two years.
  3. Always wear gloves when working in the garden to reduce exposure to anything lurking in your soil.
  4. Make sure raised beds are constructed out of safe materials and not treated lumber. Also be sure to install a bottom layer to further reduce exposure to ground soil (even if you think you’ve built the bed high enough).

With urban gardening more popular than ever (9 million people are now growing food in their backyard), we all need to be mindful that our good intentions should be coupled with safe practices.

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Happy Memorial Day

Home is a sacred place, a place certainly worth protecting. Today, we honor all of the fallen heroes that died serving and protecting our country in the United States Armed Forces.

As we fire up the grill and kick off the summer months, we also reflect on the great freedoms we enjoy every day.

To the families on the home front and the soldiers on the front line, we thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Today, we salute you.

Image Source: Flickr

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