Sarah Harrison

Avidale Balanzat, who goes by Avi, quickly arranged a building tour, asking the leasing agent to show her a unit facing the inner courtyard, not so she could see the swimming pool, but so she could have an apartment where she could see her sisters. “I wanted to see everyone from the balcony,” she said.

The entire living arrangement was happenstance. Rovi Balanzat, the eldest and a clinical application analyst at a hospital, found Bay 151 by mistake. In June, she was heading to Costco and made a wrong turn, ending up at the building, which was brand-new and looked to her like an oasis. A single parent with two young children, she was tired of living in a cramped Jersey City apartment with no amenities. At Bay 151, she was sold on the swimming pool, the children’s playroom and other amenities, quickly renting a two-bedroom. Two bedrooms in the complex now rent for $2,600 a month.

A few weeks later, her youngest sister, Vy Balanzat, an accountant, followed. The lease on her Jersey City apartment had expired and she saw the move as an opportunity to finally see her sister again. She had been living with a roommate who was a pharmacist, and so at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Because of the risk, Vy Balanzat hadn’t seen either of her sisters in four months — normally, she saw them every other week. Getting her own two-bedroom apartment at Bay 151 changed that.

Next came Avi Balanzat, the middle sister who works in information technology, and quickly found someone to take over the lease on her apartment in Jersey City. In September, she moved into a two-bedroom with her 11-year-old daughter.

For the Balanzat sisters, the move has been transformative. The cousins play together in the complex, and the sisters share in the child care, helping with homework and class time during a year of remote learning that has been taxing on the two single mothers. When the holidays rolled around, they didn’t have to make hard choices about how to celebrate. Their parents, who live in Jersey City with their 14-year-old brother, Arvinz Balanzat, were able to safely celebrate with them, too. Now that the family is vaccinated, their parents visit frequently and Arvinz sleeps over every weekend.

“The pressure was off, definitely, especially when we all moved in together,” Rovi Balanzat said. “We were able to limit the celebration to those who were already living in the same building.”

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/18/realestate/siblings-pandemic-neighbors.html

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