Live near Manhattan and enjoy a close-knit community

Margherita, Diego and their two children were enjoying their life in Milan, Italy when Diego, who works for Eataly, accepted a job transfer to New York. Having been to Roosevelt Island on a previous trip, they felt it was a great place to raise their children and be within commuting distance of Manhattan. This is Margherita’s story.

I’m originally from Florence, Italy and moved with my husband Diego and my son Ricardo to Milan when Diego accepted a job at Eatally. My second son Federico was born shortly after we moved to Milan, where we have been living for four years.

Our two bedroom apartment was on the third floor of a four story condo in the Brera district of Milan. The rent was 1,600 euros. Our apartment was small, about 700 square feet. There were no amenities other than free bike storage. Water was included in the rent, but we had to pay for electricity and gas. Almost all apartments in Italy have a washing machine, but no dryer. There are many places where clothes can be sent to be cleaned.

[Editor’s Note: Brick Underground’s series The Newcomers features first-person accounts about why a renter or buyer decided to take a chance on NYC and live here now. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

Milan is the heart of Italy, just like New York. Brera is the center of town and the best place to live in Milan for fashion, shopping and cafes. We enjoyed meeting friends at Baunilla Brera, a local cafe bar, and I enjoyed taking my kids to play at Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, a park northeast of the city center. Torre di Pisa was one of my favorite restaurants with fresh homemade pasta. It felt like home when I had dinner there with my family.

For food shopping, there are many fresh fruit and vegetable markets. For meats, I would shop at Eataly. There are supermarkets, which I would compare to Foodtown on Roosevelt Island, but much bigger.

Because we lived downtown, we didn’t need a car. It was a great place to walk and cycle. When I needed to go further, I took the tram, which crosses the city.

Diego accepted a position in New York as Senior Manager/Culinary Director and Head of Culinary Arts for Eataly North America at the end of 2019. We were supposed to move to New York in April 2020, but due to the pandemic, we ended up moving in February 2021.

Diego originally wanted to live in Manhattan, but I thought it was better to live on Roosevelt Island for the kids. We had visited Roosevelt Island and the manhattan park resort on a trip to town in 2016 so I was familiar with the area.

We worked with Liz Pearson from the Manhattan Park rental office and saw a few spots via video. Our goal was a three-bedroom apartment for around $5,000 a month. And we beat that: our current rent for a three-bedroom apartment is $4,800 per month. There were no brokerage fees.

A snowstorm delayed our move for a few days and we had to stay at a hotel, but the move was pretty straightforward: Diego took an Uber with our stuff once the storm passed. We only had our luggage and the children. We had ordered furniture from IKEA and Amazon and once we put everything together, the apartment became our home.

Our place in Manhattan Park is a corner unit with dining room and balcony on the 15th floor and washer and dryer in the unit. There is also a utility room on the ground floor.

The building has been recently renovated with a 24-hour concierge, gym, community area, game room, playground and children’s playroom and garden. There’s a rooftop deck with grill, lounge chairs, and views of the Manhattan skyline. Fresh flowers are delivered weekly to the lobby. All amenities are included except the “Rainbow Pool”. [Editor’s note: The development commissions a different local artist each year to paint a colorful mural on its 8,000 square foot pool deck.] I wish we could have our own BBQ on the balcony.

In Italy, most apartments have a door separating the day and night spaces, mainly to block out sound and cooking smells. Not really an option in New York apartments. Everything is much more open.

The janitor and building maintenance people are nice and helpful. We like to live on a high floor because it is pleasant and bright. I am also happy that the building is undertaking a window replacement project to increase the size of the windows, which will give us even more light.

Roosevelt Island has plenty of outdoor spaces and parks. The boardwalk at the south end of the island is my favorite place to walk. In spring, the river promenade is lined with cherry blossoms. There are plenty of spaces for children to run and play. Main Street runs through downtown where there are restaurants and a weekend farmer’s market. The red bus goes through the city center (it’s free) and will make stops at the metro, tram and ferry.

I enjoy cooking at home and for friends, but I love the variety of island cuisine: Zhongzhong noodles, Piccolo Trattoria Ristorante Pizzeria, take away from China 1 Kitchen. I haven’t tried it yet Panoramic room, the new rooftop lounge atop Cornell Tech’s Graduate Hotel, but it’s on my list of new island experiences.

There is a Foodtown grocery store across the street and a Saturday farmer’s market. But I still love shopping at Eataly in Manhattan.

I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband travels to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago and New York to work at Eataly. When working at the Flatiron site, he takes the F train from Roosevelt Island. When it goes downtown, it changes to the E.

The public school here is great. Ricardo loves school and his friends. He learns English and does well. The school is located on the island so it’s a very easy trip. I can walk there with Federico in the stroller.

To socialize, we love parks and all outdoor spaces where we can picnic. Ricardo signed up for soccer and enjoys playing tennis. When it snows, the Cornell Tech campus has great hills for sledding! We say hello to “Franklin” at Liberty Park when we visit.

My mother is currently visiting from Florence. We have plenty of room for her and she enjoyed walking around the island and meeting my friends. She took our morning walk around the island with Federico. We also had friends from Los Angeles and Boston. They love to explore downtown Manhattan and enjoy staying with us on the island. They can see how much we love our community, our building and our apartment.

I can’t imagine living in any other place. I feel safe. I have friendly neighbors, and everything I could need. We plan to stay here for the foreseeable future.

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