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Two People in One Small Studio? This Couple Figured They Could Manage

Two People in One Small Studio? This Couple Figured They Could Manage

About three years ago, Ilya Lachugin joined Alex Sato in his tiny Hell’s Kitchen apartment. The West 50s studio was on the top floor of a prewar elevator building, with a rent of about $2,000 a month for a little more than 200 square feet. The kitchen was in an alcove.

“We had a stove, sink and refrigerator — that’s all,” Mr. Lachugin said. “I cook, Alex cleans.”

Mr. Lachugin, 33, who is originally from Moscow, yearned to buy a home. In a rental, he said, “you never can relax. In my mind, you always have to worry about the lease, and it is not a place for yourself.”

Mr. Sato, 46, who is from São Paulo, Brazil, felt no particular urgency to buy, although it did seem financially prudent. “I came to New York for work and ended up staying,” he said. “In the back of my head, I always thought it was going to be a temporary situation, that I would go back to Brazil. With Ilya, now I have a family.” The two were married last year.

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Mr. Lachugin constantly browsed online listings, and last winter the couple decided to visit some open houses. They were hoping to find a studio in a co-op building for around $300,000, although they could pay more if necessary.

And they wanted to stay in Hell’s Kitchen, preferring a smaller place there to a bigger place elsewhere in the city.

When he first moved to the neighborhood, Mr. Lachugin felt it was crowded with people and traffic, but it had grown on him. The couple often walked their French bulldog, Mamma, in Central Park. And both enjoyed walking to their offices in Midtown, where Mr. Lachugin works as a financial analyst and Mr. Sato works at a technology company.

One essential was a nice kitchen — “or at least the potential to make it nice,” Mr. Lachugin said. They also wanted a sublet policy that would let them rent the home if they wished.

Among their options:

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