1BR condo; Long Island City, Queens

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  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Kathleen Reynolds, 28, PR professional; Eugene Reynolds, 29, personal trainer
Monthly mortgage payment:
$2,600 (30-year fixed rate) 

The search: "We were really happy with the different commuting lines that came right into Long Island City," says Kathleen. "Within five minutes of our apartment we can get to the 7, the E, the N/Q/R, the M or the G if we feel like going to Brooklyn. That was a really a big plus as opposed to Williamsburg, where you are a little bit more limited to the L, or Downtown Brooklyn, which would be more of a hike for my husband to [his job on] the Upper East Side. And [Long Island City] is a mix of an industrial neighborhood with up-and-coming things going on. We thought it would be a fantastic investment."

The decision to buy: "We wanted to own a piece of NYC, even if it's just a 787-square-foot piece," says Kathleen. "We see ourselves here for the next several years. We love Long Island City and we felt now was an especially smart time to invest, with low interest rates, tax incentives and—relatively, for New York—affordable prices. The stars were aligned, so we decided to go for it."

The area: "We're a stone's throw away from the bar Dutch Kills [27-24 Jackson Ave at Dutch Kills St, Long Island City, Queens; 718-383-2724, dutchkillsbar.com]. At least one night a week my husband and I stumble in there after a long day at work or as our last stop before home. [The bar serves] Manhattan cocktails at Queens prices. And there's M. Wells [21-17 49th Ave at 21st St, Long Island City, Queens; 718-425-6917, mwellsdiner.com], an awesome Quebec diner."

The best thing: "We're on the same street as 5 Pointz, the graffiti mecca," says Kathleen. "So we created a whole wall collage based on photos we took there. I think it kind of represents Long Island City. On one hand it's a little bit gritty, and on the other hand it has amazing art. It's almost glamorous when you look at it. So our apartment in a nutshell is kind of gritty-glamorous."

Tips for first-time buyers: Kathleen advises, "You need to be aggressive with the lender about the date that you really want to close. For us, that was really nonnegotiable. And they kept saying to us that it wouldn't be a problem. But it kind of became clear that it was much more a priority for us than it was for the lender. And at first we were getting lip service. And until we really pushed them, it was stressful."

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