Neighborhoods in NYC
June 26, 2009 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Mr Roger’s Neighborhood: NYC, introduce me to your neighborhood plus rental places

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I’ve lived in NYC for about 4 years and really enjoy living here.

Now I like my current neighborhood, but the apartment is very, very small and has a lot of problems. Because the rents are currently dropping (my landlord just offered to lower my rent for a few hundred dollars), I figure this is the time to upgrade.

I would love it if people share what they like/love/don’t like about their neighborhood and what they think I could get for a ballpark sum of $. Even if I can’t afford your neighborhood, please share! Pretend you are a broker for your neighborhood but also tell me about the warts (a broker, with truth serum!). Even if things that you like are not on my list – tell me about them, I knew nothing about this neighborhood when I moved here and have grown to enjoy it.

As a plus please let me know if it has some of the things I am looking for/not looking for although I still would enjoy the introduction to your neighborhood.

Below are things that I enjoy about my neighborhood, like/don’t like about my apartment, and my dream list.

Current neighborhood: UWS/near Lincoln center

• Hudson path along the water for walking
• Riverside drive for biking (no cars come from opposite lane, can get to GW bridge to ride out of the city, not much traffic)
• Very safe (sometimes I come home very late –not a problem)
• Can easily visit friends on UES
• Proximity to a few subway trains – 1,2, A, C
• Close to activities but not in the middle of everything (eg, Lincoln center free music in August; can walk to theaters ~ Times Square)
• It isn’t that loud compared to other parts of town
• There is a store/deli around every corner (if I need a cookie…I walk 10 feet)

Current apartment: In this neighborhood, I pay about $1400 and the rent will be lowered to $1200

Like: location

Don’t like:
• Very, very small (200 square feet) – I can’t take this anymore!
• The heating system is poor (this system that is either turned completely on or off in the winter…(baking, freezing baking, freezing)
• My neighbors are very, very young/college kids (I am fine with this age group, but I need to work, and they are dancing, drinking, hollering and living la vida loca at 1, 3, and 4 in the morning…too loud)

Where do I want to live?

Amt to pay: Up to $1500, but not much more, and I would love to get a 1-BR, but that may be delusional so …a large studio is ok. Are there buildings that have a normal heating/cooling system or keep it on rather than turn it off most of the day in the winter?

Features of neighborhood: 1) safe (can still walk around late at night), 2) still near activities or things to do (ie, I don’t want to ride a subway or boat for an hour to go to a play), 3) can still get to UES within 30 minutes/45 minutes 4) easy to bike (the highway is not surrounding me on all sides)

Not essential: I freelance and work from home – subway is not essential but makes things easy in the winter.

I like Manhattan, but I am open to Brooklyn and Queens as long as I am not commuting for an hour.
posted by Wolfster to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm on the UWS, too, but I've lived all around the city. My favorite OTHER place that I lived was Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

- cheap rent (450) for a decent sized bedroom in a brownstone
- GREAT restaurants, many 24 hours
- nice parks, not far from the water
- close to the express N train @ 59th St.
- very quiet, especially in the summer
- very diverse neighborhood, lots of families, very little crime

Didn't like
- long haul into Times Square, UES, UWS. It took me an hour to commute to my boyfriend's on the UWS.
- Not a lot of stores open late
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:28 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

For your price point in Manhattan, you are looking at old apartment buildings whose heating systems are known to be poor.

Of course there are old buildings whose heating systems work well, but these generally are pre-war co-op buildings, for which rental prices are generally at least $1,000 per month more expensive than what you are willing to pay.

Modern construction is out as well, as these buildings tend to have more amenities for which people are willing to pay a premium.

Possibilities to consider are the Upper East Side east of 1st Avenue and Washington Heights/Inwood.

Neither of these neighborhoods is as convenient as your present location.

One possibility which I don't know much about is Harlem. There has been a bunch of new construction there recently which I doubt is selling well, if at all, and the developers may have convereted some units to rentals.
posted by dfriedman at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: You could get a two bedroom for $1500 in Astoria easily or a really, really nice one bedroom with plenty of space to work from home.

My ~$400 sq ft one bedroom was $1100 from last February, I'm now in an apartment almost double the size (plus elevator, laundry, etc) for $1350. I love Astoria for many reasons (after living on the Upper West Side for years). My commute is about 20 minutes to midtown. There are restaurants all up and down the major avenues (Ditmars, 30th Ave, Broadway) and along Steinway Street. There are bodegas and 24-hour grocery stores. I'm closer to Target. I can come home late and feel safe (I'm about two blocks from the train). My neighbors are all really nice and actually say hi to each other. I haven't lived in this building long enough to know, but neighbors say the heat is ok in the winter. My last building was always warm enough which was a welcome change from my Manhattan apartments. Astoria has more of a neighborhood feel than any place I lived in Manhattan. There's a community web forum and I've made a lot of friends off of it (people promote book clubs, crafty clubs, pride events, meetups, etc through there as well as just chatting). Astoria Park is quite nice, though it's not very centrally located. It would definitely be easy to reach the UES within 30/45 minutes.

Downside: you're in Queens, and some people don't like that and won't come visit you (who needs 'em?!). When they're doing track work, it can be a giant pain to get into the city on the weekends.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bay Ridge is cheap and great, but like roomthreeseventeen said, it's past your commute range. Somewhere like Prospect Heights might work well for you -- you're near the 2-3-B-Q lines (and you can very easily get to the 4-5-A-C), so you've got a very easy (and not too long) commute to pretty much everywhere in Manhattan. The neighborhood is pretty and quiet, and you can bike on Prospect Park (car free except at rush hour) and over the bridges to Manhattan. No crime, easy to get to Park Slope and such for entertainment and culture.

It's also inexpensive enough that you could have a decent place all to yourself for what you're paying now.

Disclaimer: I've never lived there. It just sounds up your alley.
posted by zvs at 8:12 AM on June 26, 2009

I like Manhattan, but I am open to Brooklyn and Queens as long as I am not commuting for an hour.

Commuting to where? Because my current commute from my neighborhood in Brooklyn (which I LOVE) is only a half hour -- but that's between Brooklyn/NYU campus. When I was working in Midtown, it was an hour commute. Where you're commuting TO makes a difference.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on June 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for all the responses so far.

Astoria sounds great! Bay Ridge sounds interesting, but a more than I want to travel everyday.

Thank you Dfriedman for info re: apartments, heat, and cost (so I may need to live like this...forever?)

EmpressCallipygos asked a critical questions, so where and why am I commuting

UES, UWS, Times Square, area near former, tribeca - for lectures, plays, meeting friends (frequency: 2 to 3 times or so a week)

Penn station - Depends on the clients for my business, but currently I go the train staion on 34th street/Peen every 2 weeks (and take the train for a few hours...ugh! So an hour to get to the train, too, would kill me) Most of my other clients rarely, rarely need me to see them so it may= every few months.
posted by Wolfster at 8:24 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: Upper Washington Heights aka Hudson Heights
(178th to Fort Tryon Park, West of Fort Washington)

It's one the greenest parts of the city, incredible parks, beautiful views of the Hudson and Palisades, and the Cloisters. Access to Riverside Park. Can feel like you aren't in Mahattan.

Great rents in beautiful prewar buildings- I had a 1 br apt (around 600 sq ft) in an elevator building for $1150 when I moved last year. You can easily find 1 BR for $1500 or less

Decent access to the train, depending where you are either the 1 or A. The A is great for getting to midtown fast... I could be at 59th in about 25 minutes, or 14th st in 35 minutes. Easy access to anything on the west side.

Safe area, diverse population. Very few tourists wandering about.

Not so great:
Amenities... they are getting better but still a bit limited compared to the rest of the city. There are a few good restaurants, a couple of decent groceries.

Trying to get home late nights an weekends from lower Manhattan... the A runs local, and can take forever. And a cab is going to cost $30 bucks.

Can be noisy. Boomcars, motorcycles, etc.

Your friends will never come visit you.
posted by kimdog at 8:41 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you want to look into Astoria more closely, I have a broker I would wholeheartedly recommend. He showed us exactly what we were looking for and worked hard for us. Many of the place he showed us were essentially no-fee since the management company was paying the fee. We took a place where we had to pay, but I feel it was worth it. Let me know and I will PM you his info.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:10 AM on June 26, 2009

Seconding kimdog's suggestion of Fort Tryon. You get off the train up there and it's like you're in a different city. Not what you'd expect of Washington Heights at all. (But you have to live on top of the hill, not below it, to enjoy the best parts - if you get off the A at 190th take the elevators up, not the tunnel out.)

But yeah, your friends will never come see you. Mine used to refer to it as "up-state Manhattan". And getting to the UES is a slog.
posted by philotes at 9:20 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: I'm in South Harlem. In Harlem, you can definitely get a 1 bedroom for less than $1500 (I'm in a ~$1900 2 bedroom).

  • Space. I live in a huge pre-war two bedroom. It's larger than the three bedroom apartment I used to live in in Astoria. There is room for a full living room setup (two armchairs, sofa, coffee table and TV) and my fullsize dining room table and its six chairs. The kitchen is enormous, and we have five closets.
  • Convenience to other parts of town. I'm on the 2/3 (living on the express is SO nice) and just a few blocks away from the B/C. The 4/5/6 is a 15 minute walk should I really need it, but the UES is super easy to get to via bus.
  • Harlem is a friendly neighborhood. People say hello. Occasionally, it can be over-friendly (I don't really need you to tell me that you like my butt, thank you) but I'd rather have over-friendly than not friendly at all.
  • The arts in Harlem are thriving.. There are great opportunities to see all kinds of music, theater, dance, and visual arts. Everyone knows the Apollo, of course, but there are all sorts of hole in the wall music clubs, too. For visual arts, I particularly like the Studio Museum.
Don't Like:
  • My particular part of the neighborhood has few shops and restaurants. There are other parts of Harlem that are much stronger in this regard (125th Street, 116th Street, and Frederick Douglass Avenue in particular all have thriving businesses) but on my block, there are two beauty parlors, a nail salon, a bike repair shop, and a senior citizens center. There are plenty of things a few blocks in any direction, but my particular corner is a little bit empty.

posted by ocherdraco at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: Might want to look at Hell's Kitchen/"Clinton"

  • Easy access to any form of transportation conceivable. This not only includes the A-C-E, it also includes the PATH, the Tunnel, the West Side Highway, Penn Station, Port Authority, and the Passenger Ship Terminal. You are basically in the hub of every form of mass transit in the Tri-State area.
  • Food everywhere
  • Theater everywhere
  • Everything everywhere
  • You can probably double your current living space for the same price (which is still not saying much).
  • People will always come to visit you.
  • Arguably less safe.
  • Arguably less bike-friendly.
  • Noisier (arguably, depending on the building)
  • People will always come to visit you.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, re: areas of Harlem... Harlem and East Harlem change VERY QUICKLY from "OK" to "wouldn't be caught dead here at night". Before you move, visit the area at several different times of the day, and walk a few blocks in all directions.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2009

roomthreeseventeen, you mean they change from area to area, right? Not that they're fine in the morning but bad at night? You are right in that regard. If you're looking in any neighborhood with a big socioeconomic mix from poor all the way up to elevator/doorman/condoland, talk with someone who lives there to learn what parts of the neighborhood are sketchy. In Harlem, sketchy blocks are definitely in the minority, but they do exist.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:09 AM on June 26, 2009

Right, yes.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2009

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