Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Hunt column from The Times....

Tina Fineberg for The New York Times

The Hunt
A Shorter Commute to the Office
Published: March 10, 2011

FOR 15 years, Christopher Murray lived in what he describes as a “perfectly serviceable” one-bedroom railroad apartment in South Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was a rent-stabilized fourth-floor walk-up with a view of a back alley. The neighborhood “grew and evolved when I was there,” he said. So did he.

Last year, a friend in the building bought a co-op and moved out. “We are the same age,” said Mr. Murray, who is 43, “and it jogged me to say maybe it was time to move on.”

At the time, his rent was about $875 a month. He longed to see weather from his window, and to eliminate his lengthy F train commute to his office in the West Village. On weekends, “I would go home and isolate,” he said. “The psychic distance across the East River is longer than the actual distance.”

Maybe the best plan would be to consolidate home and office. Mr. Murray is a licensed clinical social worker. For the past five years, he has had a private practice (, working out of a small office building on West 13th Street. Serendipitously, as the idea of leaving occurred to him, an art therapist became interested in his office space, and Mr. Murray was able to sign over his lease. His office rent had been $1,875 a month.

For a new home and office, he was willing to pay up to $4,500 a month — though he would be happier in the $3,000s.

“Live-work spaces are a holy grail for therapists in New York,” Mr. Murray said. “It would be great to have all the comforts of home right there.”

And yet he understands that many therapists are of two minds about having clients enter their home, “as we should be, since ‘ambivalence’ is our middle name,” said Mr. Murray, a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Hunter College School of Social Work. He was concerned about maintaining a professional distance from his clients. “I’m friendly,” he said, “but I’m not a friend.”

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