The Staycation House

Sure, a vacation house can be dreamy, but getting to one rarely is. These three homeowners have figured out an alternative: Their weekend hideaways are actually in the five boroughs, all within taxi or subway range. Yes, you really can get everything in New York—including relief from it.

First Home: Lower East Side
Second Home: Far Rockaway
Distance: 23 miles

On Rockaway Beach, between Beach 24th and Beach 26th Streets, stands a collection of bungalows dating to the twenties. Although it’s a little tattered these days, the area has fans like Andi Burnett, a stylist; her filmmaker husband, Marcus; and their 6-year-old daughter. They discovered Rockaway four years ago, after some guy at the playground near their Lower East Side apartment told them that he’d snapped up a $25,000 house there. They took the A train to check out the area—it’s an hour-and-a-half ride—and were immediately sold. (Playground Guy was overstating the bargains to be had, though: This 700-square-foot bungalow cost the Burnetts about $150,000.) They don’t think it’s at all weird to own a beach house in the city, Burnett says, asking instead, “How weird is it that New York City has so much beachfront and no one uses it?” Besides, she says, she hates driving. “It’s a little bit run-down, a little bit loud, and there’s some garbage, but there’s so much to work with!” she says. “There’s one part where you go over the boardwalk and you don’t see any of the high-rises, just the beach and the sand. It’s like Amagansett.”

First Home: Midtown
Second Home: Brooklyn, near Jamaica Bay
Distance: Approximately 11 miles

The owners of this immense house are design aficionados who own a handful of properties in and out of the city. (They spend most of their time in Manhattan, however.) Modular, airy, and just spectacular, it’s larger than most primary homes, at 7,500 square feet, and has unmarred views of the water. (Incredibly, this is just their guest house; the main residence is a few hundred feet away.) The real draw isn’t so much being on the water as it is gazing at it through the big, bronze-tinted windows: “It’s all about the view,” explains project architect John Lee, owner and principal of Workshop for Architecture. “It looks kind of like Miami.” Without the haul to JFK.

First Home: Upper East Side
Second Home: Central Park West
Distance: Six blocks

Three years ago, Maria Pashby, a real-estate broker with Corcoran, finally gave in to her husband’s request to move to Tribeca, after decades spent across from the American Museum of Natural History. They knew she’d miss Central Park, and he expressed his appreciation by buying her this duplex on the Park as a Valentine’s Day surprise. Since then, the apartment has been her private refuge, a space where she settles in whenever she has showings nearby. (Sometimes she brings her dogs, so they can take walks in the park.)

After all that, the move downtown didn’t stick. Next month, they’re relocating again, to the Upper East Side. But she loves her West Side crash pad so much that she’s not only keeping it; she is renovating. “It’s a big luxury, but we adore it. It’s a completely different feeling. I don’t have any park [on the East Side],” says Pashby, who’s furnished it with belongings from their old place near the museum. “It’s like a vacation in the past.”

The Staycation House