Shortly after Covid-19 hit, Michelle de Vera and Serhan Ayhan settled into a one-bedroom in Woodside, Queens. The kitchen had plenty of uninterrupted counter space — an essential for Mr. Ayhan, who is a pizza maker and “pizza influencer.”
The couple’s rent, around $1,950 a month, was ideal, too. Ms. de Vera, who then worked in the airline industry, had an easy trip via public transportation to the Queens airports. She now works in operations for a tech company, a job that still entails frequent visits to the airports.
The apartment was also close to Mr. Ayhan’s family, who had a rowhouse in Jackson Heights. (Before his relatives retired four years ago, they owned Boston Pizza, in Astoria.) When he’s not busy with pizza, he works in the field of financial due diligence.
One major downside was the lack of a dishwasher. “The many dirty dishes were getting out of hand,” said Ms. de Vera, 32. “It got to a breaking point.” So they bought a countertop dishwasher. “It was life changing,” she said.
She would spend hours on video calls for work while Mr. Ayhan, 36, clanked in the kitchen and tried to stay out of camera range. They longed for more living space and two bedrooms.
“We are really big savers,” Ms. de Vera said. “We did the math and there was no reason we should be renting anymore.”
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Their criteria included a kitchen — with a dishwasher — that was suitable for making dough,, and space for hosting pizza nights. In every apartment they visited, Mr. Ayhan checked to see whether the oven was big enough to accommodate his pizza peel.
For a top price in the low $500,000s, they aimed for a co-op unit with a monthly maintenance of $1,000 or less. And they wanted to stay local — Woodside, Sunnyside or Jackson Heights.
They contacted Kunal Khemlani of the Corcoran Group, who had helped a friend. He emphasized the three things that are impossible to change — location, light and layout — and warned the couple against falling in love with a place. “It’s going to cloud your logic,” he said. “There is more than one right property.”
The couple soon realized they could manage with only their countertop dishwasher — as long as they had space to install a standard dishwasher later. “Most buildings will allow a dishwasher if there is a plumbing line,” Mr. Khemlani said, noting that restrictions on dishwashers are less common than those on washer-dryers.
Among their options:
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