“We’re at an interesting stage of life,” Ms. Divers said. “We’re both 58. I have much more control over when and how I work. He has less, but he can work here and use it as a home base.”
And now that they no longer have to divide their time between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, where they used to keep an apartment, they are free to divide it between Pittsburgh and New York. But with two daughters and three grandchildren in Pittsburgh — and a fourth on the way — they didn’t want to leave altogether.
They started looking for a one-bedroom in Brooklyn last November, without strong preferences besides wanting a gas range rather than electric one because they like to cook. But after touring a few new developments, they quickly decided that it would be a shame to miss out on one of the few advantages of New York City housing stock: the ability to live up high.
“We were like, ‘We’re in New York, why go with a place that’s only three or four stories tall?’” Mr. Divers said. “What’s better than looking out the window? We don’t even need to turn on the TV.”
After canceling appointments at lower-rise rentals, the Divers were looking at a nearby building when they noticed The Ashland. They saw an apartment that afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to discover that it was owned and managed by the Gotham Organization. Years earlier, they had rented a Gotham apartment in Midtown West for their youngest daughter, who moved to the city to dance with Alvin Ailey after she graduated from high school.
“We’d had three or four years before with no complaints,” Ms. Divers said.
They signed a lease for a 30th-floor apartment on a corner, with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, paying about $3,850 a month, with access to amenities, after figuring in a rental concession.
While furnishing the place was easy, in theory — they transplanted the contents of their one-bedroom rental in Indianapolis — they found that not all of their furniture was scaled to a New York-size apartment.
“We had to figure out how to fit a 12-foot couch in. We were going around with a tape measure to look at different apartments,” Mr. Divers said. “I was like, ‘I’m not getting a new couch.’”
They did manage to shoehorn the sofa in, but then they had to figure out where they would eat, given that dining rooms are not standard-issue in many New York one-bedrooms. Eventually they settled on a corner of the living room that had room for a high, round table and two tall chairs.
Sometimes they wish they had rented a two-bedroom, but only so they could see their guests: their daughters’ families, who use the apartment frequently whenever the couple is not in residence.
“So many people in our family would love to come and stay with us, but they can only stay when we’re not here,” Mr. Divers said.
Apart from that, sharing a smaller space has presented no issues. “We like each other!” Ms. Divers said.
“The main reason we started renting in Indy was because I got so tired of being in a hotel without her,” Mr. Divers said.
The same philosophy inspired their move to New York. “Having a physical presence in people’s lives makes a big difference — it adds so much,” Ms. Divers said. “I think there’s a patience and appreciation we can have for people when we’re near them.”
“It’s really hard to keep the family thing going,” Mr. Divers added. “People go to college, grow up, move to new cities. Technologies — Skype and all — are nice, but it’s not the same.”
Mr. Divers mused on how much his granddaughter had changed in the first six weeks of her life, a change he was able to witness up close by going over to take care of her, as he did on a recent afternoon so his daughter-in-law could take the dog to the vet.
“When I went over, I put the baby in the front backpack thing and walked up and down the hall to keep her asleep,” Mr. Divers said. “I like helping our kids. How would you do that without being there?”