Felix Zeltner and Christina Horsten are on the hunt for the perfect New York City home — or 12 of them, to be exact.
The couple is embarking on a journey through the city in which they plan to live in a different neighborhood every month for a year, spending time in each of the five boroughs with their 20-month-old daughter Emma in tow.
The pair — both journalists — say they plan to immerse themselves in the 12 different parts of the city, chronicling their travels through a blog, podcast and social media posts for a project they're calling NYC 12 x 12.
"We want to meet people, we want to see the apartments," said Horsten, 33. "I don't know if there's a city where there are so many different possibilities to live."
While both hail from Germany, the husband and wife moved to New York four years ago after Horsten was transferred by her job at a German news service.
After three years on the Upper East Side, they spent a year living in Park Slope but were soon priced out and found themselves on the hunt for a new apartment — which is when they got the idea for 12 x 12.
"There's all these neighborhood that we would love to live in," Horsten said. "We were thinking about all these neighborhoods and then we were like, 'Well, why don't we do this thing where we move to a different neighborhood each month?'"
"Also, we both love to travel, and we have learned to travel inside of New York as kind of traveling the world," Zeltner, 34, explained. "It's kind of like this endless journey that you're on once you start exploring the city."
The first stop on their tour is Long Island City, where in June they moved into a vacant condo on Jackson Avenue owned by a friend.
They plan to find their future homes by searching out furnished sublets, traveling with just the "bare essentials" and putting anything they want to keep long term — like their furniture — into storage for the year.
"We're trying to get rid of all of that stuff that we don't need," Zeltner said.
They plan to keep their regular jobs throughout the moves — Horsten works for a German news wire and Zeltner is an independent journalist who also runs a music-sharing site — and will be paying rent, so each location needs to be within their price range.
"It's really an experiment. We don’t know whether this is going to work," Zeltner said. "People can follow us and just see if we make it or not."
While their exact itinerary will depend on where they find available apartments, the plan is to live in six neighborhoods in Manhattan, two in Queens, two in Brooklyn, and one each in the Bronx and Staten Island.
They say the month-long stays will give them a chance to really get to the know the neighborhoods, to dine at local restaurants, play in the neighborhood playgrounds and shop at the nearby stores.
"When we're in the neighborhood, we want to just try everything," said Horsten, adding that they've so far been "blown away" by Long Island City.
They've spent their time so far exploring museums like MoMA PS1, doing yoga in the parks on the waterfront and dining at longtime eateries like Manducatis.
They're leaving the neighborhood in August, when they'll move to a loft apartment in Chinatown. Those who want to follow their journey there and to future neighborhoods can visit the NYC 12 x 12 website for updates, where they can also sign up for their newsletter.
"The dream outcome would be to find the perfect apartment, a spectacular apartment in the perfect neighborhood," Zeltner said.
But even if they don't, he thinks the project will give them a chance to better know the city they love.
"I hope we have the chance to kind of learn so much more about New York," he said. "Because even after four years, it feels like we know very little."