For a dozen years, Ryan Michele Woods and Jeffrey Lee Woods rented a two-bedroom apartment in a two-family house in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, facing Green-Wood Cemetery.
The ground-floor unit had a deck and a paved backyard. “Our landlords didn’t raise our rent” — $2,100 a month — “as long as we kept up with improvements,” Ms. Woods said.
When Isaac, now 5, was born, the couple added a temporary wall to section off the main bedroom’s alcove. When they had to find space for Ruby, now 2, they moved their own sleeping quarters to the office off the kitchen.
They suffered through the surrounding noise and a sheet-metal shop behind them. “We could see the future,” Mr. Woods said. It was loud and claustrophobic — and that was before the pandemic arrived.
The time had come to find a new home, preferably a house with plenty of space and a layout suitable for a family of four and pets, plus a yard and a parking spot.
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Ms. Woods, 41, grew up on Staten Island, left for college in Boston and returned to Brooklyn. She is now an English teacher at the same Park Slope middle school that she attended, where her mother also taught. Through a common friend, she met Mr. Woods, 52, who is from Florida and joined the Coast Guard when he was young, later working in film.
With their budget, up to $700,000, they knew their new home would not be close to Windsor Terrace. Over time, they had watched as older residents died, investors flipped houses, and buyers priced out of other Brooklyn neighborhoods arrived. “The middle class got pushed out,” Ms. Woods said.
So they headed south in search of something they could afford. Among their options:
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