Mr. Johnson would travel to New Paltz to pick up the mail and check on the house, only to find himself heading back to the city 15 minutes later. Mr. Karliner had come out of retirement for the third time to teach at a high school in Orangeburg, N.Y., a 30-minute reverse commute from their Hell’s Kitchen apartment. The drive from New Paltz, though, was an hour and a half.
“The studio would have been O.K. if we were just there every few weekends, but we were living here full time,” Mr. Karliner said. “We don’t think the cats were happy there, either — they couldn’t get away from each other. And we couldn’t get away from each other, either.”
Upgrading to a one-bedroom seemed an obvious solution, especially after a penthouse apartment in the building became vacant. Delighted to not be so cramped, Mr. Johnson started going on “shopping expeditions” to their house in New Paltz, bringing back artifacts from the 57 countries they visited together.
With their curios around them, a growing number of New York friends and a Hudson River view from the kitchen — a feature especially prized by Mr. Johnson, who loves to cook and tries to find a cooking class whenever they travel — New Paltz beckoned less often.
Mr. Karliner still visited for long spells in the warmer months, as he loved to lounge by the pool.
But as for Mr. Johnson, “I’m not a lounging type,” he said. “When I’m there, there are only a few things to do. Here, there are so many things to do.”
By last fall, there was no denying that their pied-à-terre had become home. Mr. Karliner, who had retired again at the end of the school year, was spending more time in the apartment, developing a photography practice. Mr. Johnson wasn’t visiting New Paltz even once a month, and their cats, who spent many contented hours staring at the traffic and the pigeons, hadn’t left Manhattan in more than a year.
In October, the couple moved again, into a sunny two-bedroom one floor below their penthouse apartment. While not approaching the dimensions of their place in New Paltz, which has 48 windows and a three-story turret, their current apartment feels like the right size for a full-time residence.