Find me a home (with space enough) where the buffalo roam!
January 3, 2012 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Bronx? West side of Manhattan? My kingdom for enough space for a table to eat on and a dresser. Where should I live?

Swear this is different to every other NYC neighborhood question, because I'm pretty sure I've read them all.

Currently live on the Upper East Side and commute to work in midtown west. I like my commute, my neighborhood and don't mind what I'm paying in rent as it's quite reasonable. Have moved several times within the neighborhood as I really like the area but I'd kill for more space.

I have a 1BR in a pre-war walk up. Love the high ceilings but there is no storage whatsoever (even with freestanding closet from Container Store) and dinners are consumed in my lap for lack of space for a dining room table. Contemplating moving this year as I value space slightly more than convenience or neighborhood, but where?

I've heard good things about both Riverdale & the Country Club area of the Bronx but not so sure I trust the 1 train to give me a sane commute. Would love to keep the commute below one hour (each way) as I work late hours. I think most of the west side is out of my price range ($1500/month), but that may no longer be true. Should I be looking at Astoria/LIC? I'm not crazy about Brooklyn as I think the more affordable/places with space are too far out to be within an hour, am I off base?

I previously commuted from Rockland/Westchester but the challenge there is it costs more than living in the City when you factor in Metro North. I assume that would be the same for LIRR/Nassau County. Is the PATH reliable enough to consider Hoboken?

Anything else I'm missing?
posted by TravellingCari to Home & Garden (37 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My old roommate moved to Riverdale -- I think he also works in Midtown -- and after he got over the initial "oh my god it is so beautiful here" he told me that it is just way too far away from everything else to be worth it.

Under the park in Brooklyn -- basically, using Kensington as your southern border -- you can find some nice, roomy places in your price range and about an hour out of Midtown. In fact, I live in Bensonhurst, and my old commute to 42nd St. was under an hour station-to-station, so the ride from those areas isn't so bad at all.

I have many friends in Astoria who are very happy in it -- lots to do in the neighborhood -- however, no one who doesn't live in Astoria ever visits them. A bit of an exaggeration, but the combination of remoteness and the R train makes it not the best place. I have never heard anyone say anything good about LIC -- and plenty bad! -- outside "hey, it's not great now but this might become a hip neighborhood." I have been hearing that for over five years. Everyone I knew who moved there eventually left.
posted by griphus at 12:51 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Regarding the UWS. We live in a building on 72 and West End. 350 foot studios in our building (we live in a 1BR) currently go for $2k.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: The PATH is pretty reliable, but I don't think you'll find a spacious 1BR in Hoboken for $1500, either...
posted by Grither at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: You have to take a long walk up a steep hill to get to Riverdale from from where the 1/9 lets you off (or wait for a bus).
posted by Paquda at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Try Inwood. The A runs express to mid-town. It's cheap, apartments have tons of room and high ceilings, you're surrounded by parks, and a couple decent restaurants. Probably stick to the west side of Broadway.
posted by one_bean at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Would you consider Washington Heights or Inwood? We live in Washington Heights and the A/1 is quite fast to Midtown. The apartments are pretty roomy in general, from what I saw when I was apartment hunting; I think you should be able to get something nice for $1500 a month.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:56 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all, some good things I hadn't taken into consideration. Not to threadsit but totally OK with Washington Heights/Inwood with the exception of the area right around the Bridge/Bus Terminal which gets groddier by the day.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: I'm in Washington Heights too (didn't realize we were neighbors now, TPS) and I get to Soho every day in about 35 minutes so it definitely meets your commute time. I'm not on the best block in the area but it's safe enough, if loud, and you can get some fairly sizable places for under 1500 bucks. The property management firm that owns my building, Langsam Management, owns quite a few in the neighborhood.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: I live in Washington Heights, on 173rd. Commuting to midtown west is a breeze. $1,500 per month is easy up there. Not much in the
Way of amenities. Live west of broadway, closer to the hospital @ 168th and you'll be fine.
posted by dfriedman at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Sister Renault lived for years on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. Huge two bedroom, for less than a third of what she would pay anywhere in Manhattan for the same space. (No idea what the actual numbers were/are though.) Smack between the 2 and 5 trains, midtown would have been about 40 minutes (but being near the end of the line, a sit-down 40 minutes). Plenty around, though not too much nightlife to speak of. Plus, they have John and Joe's, and Dominick's wasn't too far of a walk away.

All of which isn't particularly helpful, I know, just to say that for all of the reputation the Boogie Down has, it's actually a very nice place, and very livable and affordable. Good area, good people.

posted by Capt. Renault at 1:15 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: The PATH is pretty reliable. As backup, there's always the NY Waterways ferry, which is a nice change of pace.

I'm biased, obviously, but you should take a look at Jersey City as well as Hoboken. I think it's a little less expensive, it's way less frat-boyish, we have a nice waterfront walkway if you like taking walks, good grocery stores, great restaurants, and if you're near Exchange Place it's about 8 minutes to Manhattan on the Exchange<>WTC Path. As an example, I can reach NY Penn Station in about 25 minutes (Exchange Place PATH to WTC, then E uptown) which would be even faster once the new transit center gets built to connect the PATH to the subway again.
posted by lyra4 at 1:19 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Have you considered Jersey City? I know you can find space and storage for under $1500 a month. PATH train runs from Journal Sq. or Grove St. and would get you to 33rd in ~25 minutes.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:20 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Where in Midtown West? If you're near the Seven train, you could live in Sunnyside, Queens for that budget (e.g. this Craigslist listing). Access to midtown is pretty good and you're also well placed for Queens adventures (Jackson Heights, Flushing, etc.) if you like that sort of thing.
posted by Jahaza at 1:20 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Bed Stuy! Rents are (were?) in the $1200 to $1600 range for an entire floor in a brownstone. It takes me an hour to get from here to the Upper West Side. And I live ten blocks from the subway, so that includes the walking time. Also, I usually take the C, which adds at least fifteen minutes onto my travel time over taking the A.

Bed Stuy!
posted by brina at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Jahaza: 53rd/7th so 7 is an easy hop on the N/R from Times Sq. or C/E from Port Authority (? Can't remember where it stops after GCT as I usually don't take it this far West)

Thanks all for good tips. Definitely going to look more at WH/Inwood and Jersey City as I hadn't given the latter much thought for whatever reason.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: I live in Astoria/LIC but on the N train, not the R train and the train is frequent enough. Contrary to griphus's experience, we have people visiting us all the time. It's nice to go for brunch in places with elbow room.
posted by gaspode at 1:28 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I lived in bedstuy for a couple of years (2006 to 2008)- three bedroom newly renovated apartment for $1500. It was amazing: exposed brick, track lighting, new hardwood floors, bedrooms you could drive a car into..oh god and the closets. AND it took fifteen min to get into the LES, about a half hour to get to midtown east.

I no longer live over there due to a combination of crazy landlords, higher crime than I liked, and complete lack of conviences and bars- But it was incredible beauty for such value!

Now I live in Bensonhurst (with griphus) and commute to the UWS on an express train. it takes an hour. If you do end up looking into Brooklyn- any of the stops on the express trains make all the difference. When I lived in sunset park it was a little more than half an hour to 34th street if I caught the express. Kensington has huge, very reasonable places.
posted by Blisterlips at 1:42 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Two friends of mine just moved to gorgeous, spacious houses in Crown Heights near the Utica ave 4 train stop. Spacious like they have more closets than they can fill. 45 minute ride to midtown.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:43 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Depending on what you're looking for in a home base, I like Forest Hills in Queens - it's very pretty and residential and quiet, and the commute from 71st/Continental on the E/F/M/R to midtown west is only about 1/2 an hour (when I lived there I would take the local trains since it was the terminal stop, and you could always get a seat). And for the rent you're paying, you'd get more space in Queens. But it really does have more of a family-friendly, suburban feel to it compared to Manhattan, which has to be something you'd enjoy - I now live a little further into Queens and find that I'm not so inclined to take the train into the city on weekends because it is an event.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 1:44 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: I'm another folk who lived in the Washington Heights area for six years and loved it. Hudson Heights in the broker-babble name for the area between 181st and Ft Tryon Park west of Ft Washington Avenue. It's a really lovely, safe area with A train access at 181 & 190.
posted by kimdog at 1:55 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, I live in Astoria on the N/Q, and it rules. Check out what your commute would be from Astoria, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. It takes me 45 or 50 minutes to get all the way down to the financial district. Plus, the food rules.

I am living cheap with roommates right now, but I have a few friends with 1-bedrooms paying around $1100/$1200 for pretty nice places in Astoria.

(Also, I lived for a few months each in Washington Heights and Inwood, and found it very frustrating to be that far away from everything. Astoria is actually closer to midtown/downtown by train than both of those neighborhoods.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:02 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I lived within walking distance to Ft Tryon Park in Inwood and my apartment was HUGE. The A train will get you to Midtown in about 35 minutes, as others have said. There are lots of families from DR, and it's insular that way, makes a bit of a cultural barrier if doesn't speak Spanish, etc. The neighborhood is basically great if one is really into having a spacious home and staying in it a lot. My friends weren't too keen on visiting me that far Uptown-- I don't really blame them. There were few decent bars or restaurants, but the park was close by and lovely.

The rub always came on the weekends when frequent track repair work was being done on the A. I had to take a shuttle bus to the train, and it was horrible. Once, it took me almost 2.5 hours to get to Williamsburg on a weekend. Just the worst.
posted by devymetal at 2:07 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Based on a friend's experience there, I would recommend any other neighborhood over Jersey City. There is much less of interest in the area (feel free to contradict me, JC residents), and the PATH is utter crap on the weekends. You'll get much better train service and access to cool stuff in Brooklyn/Upper Manhattan.

(FWIW, I live a stone's throw from the 125th Street stop on the 1, and can hardly get people to visit me here, so wherever you move, be prepared to have to travel to see your friends. Have you considered the UUES, i.e., 100th and above? Also, several of my co-workers live in Bushwick/Bed-Stuy, and they would recommend it due to its proximity to W'burg and cheap rents.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:27 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used to commute from Astoria on the N, lived by the Ditmars stop, and it was heavenly to midtown west. An hour? More like 20 minutes. Brilliant stuff. Plus, you're on the end of the line so you can get a seat on the warm/cool train while you wait.

AVOID the Acropolis. It's a total hellhole and they screwed us really badly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:44 PM on January 3, 2012

Also, I love Brooklyn but I would never live here if I had to commute to Midtown. Commute length is seriously important to quality of life.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:45 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Do you happen to use a bike to get around a lot? That might open up a lot of neighborhoods you wouldn't normally think of living in if you do. I live in central Queens, but on a bike, Williamsburg is just a few miles down either Metropolitan or Grand, and Jackson Heights/Astoria is just a zip up Broadway or 34th ave. Of course no one would even think of coming to visit me (other than the friends who live nearby), but that's OK - I always thought of my home base as a place to get away from everything and everyone, rather than as a place to hang out. Plus I spend very little money on housing compared to everyone I know.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 2:50 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: computech_apolloniajames, only issue with the UUES other than 125th is the godforsaken pos that is the 6 train. Part of me says I've put my dues in this neighborhood long enough that I want to reap the benefits of the 2nd Ave Subway when/if it ever runs. The other part of me wants out now. I actually used to love the area around 112/East River even pre Target but haven't been up there in a bit. I was happy when I moved into the 80s a few years back to have the option of the 4/5 although I'm pretty sure the 5 has gone extinct.

devymetal, I'm OK with the Spanish. Mine isn't as good as it used to be when I lived in Spain but it's certainly enough to speak with neighbors/shopkeepers etc. and I"d learn some more DR-specific lingo, I'm sure.

Neely O'Hara, I actually don't mind the suburban feel too much. Gre up in suburbs, lived overseas in cities of varying sizes (Brisbane, OSaka, Madrid and Prague) and when I moved back to the US, I wanted urban - but when I visit friends and family, I miss the space.

All good to know - thanks again!
posted by TravellingCari at 2:52 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Calloused_Foot, oddly enough just talking about a bike with friends although for exercise and not transit reasons. Biking is my preferred form of exercise in the gym & I keep contemplating using it for transit. I did that a lot in OSaka, not so much here in NYC but that could change.
posted by TravellingCari at 2:54 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: OK, JC resident stepping in to contradict here. First, PATH, since everything here is so "get into Manhattan" centric. I ride the Newark/WTC line, not the Hoboken 33rd line, so perhaps that line is worse off. I don't have a big problem with it on weekends, really. At worst on the weekends it is once every 20 minutes if they are doing repairs, but generally it's about every 12-15 minutes over the weekend. It runs 24 hours, but on a weekend night it can sometimes stretch to about 30 minutes between. I don't know, if I'm in the city that late I just catch a cab all the way home which is not that bad given how rarely I do it. Also, we have the Liberty Landing ferry here every 30 minutes on the weekends - if I can't deal with the PATH, I catch the ferry to World Financial Center. $7 each way, so it's a splurge, but it's a pretty ride. (I am big into ferries, you'll have to excuse me. Married to a sailor and all that.)

Next, whether you'd like JC depends on what you like to do on the weekends. I go into Manhattan for yoga on the weekends, or lunch with friends, or to go see museums, shopping, general walking around. About one weekend a month or so I go up to Hoboken and do lunch, shopping, hanging out with friends there. Despite my ripping on it for being frat boy land, which it is, it's an OK place to get lunch and walk around on a nice Saturday afternoon.

We are not into late night bars or clubbing, so most weekend nights we'll go to a restaurant (I have about 8 that are within a 3 block walk that are very, very good) and maybe a movie. Otherwise we stay in and cook, or occasionally drive out further into Jersey to see family. I love going on long walks, which JC is great for - we have Liberty State park, waterfront walkway, it's a nice walk to Hamilton Park or Van Vorst park, we have good farmers markets, I'm generally pretty happy here.

And the views are AMAZING. We're up in a highrise and I have incredible views of NY Harbor that I will never get over. So. yeah. I love it here.
posted by lyra4 at 3:53 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Reporting from Riverdale - the 1 train commute was awful, and I wasn't thrilled with the A train either. Your other option is metro north, which is nicer, but is at the bottom of a cliff which is a pain on the weekends when there is no rail n ride bus service.

The amount of space, safety and greenery is awesome, though. Amenities such as bars and restaurants aren't great.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:35 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Seconding Inwood! Awesome parks. Last stop on the A, which makes the commute fine. (also on the 1/9)
posted by kestrel251 at 5:46 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all. Really glad I asked this with lead time before my lease expires so I have time to walk around some of these neighborhoods to make a decision.

I'm less worried about local amenities other than basics (food and or convenience store, laundromat) as working near Times Sq. I can and do do a lot closer to work due to my hours but all good food for thought, especially for others looking.
posted by TravellingCari at 12:09 PM on January 4, 2012

Best answer: I'm less worried about local amenities other than basics (food and or convenience store, laundromat)

One of the reasons I like living in Astoria is that I can have my laundry picked up and delivered already folded really cheaply, like for 80 cents a pound. But then, I really really hate doing laundry.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:43 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: One of the reasons I like living in Astoria is that I can have my laundry picked up and delivered already folded really cheaply, like for 80 cents a pound. But then, I really really hate doing laundry.

Yeah, I pretty much can't remember the last time I did my own laundry other than a quick wash of something I needed to wear right now or if I was at my mom's. Luckily I've found many laundromats that exist to cater to us laundry-haters.
posted by TravellingCari at 2:28 PM on January 5, 2012

Response by poster: Just resolving this for any future apartment hunters. I ended up staying almost where I was. A hair east (and willingness to do a 5th floor walk up) gave me more space, a working stove and an AC!

I ended up looking as follows:
* UWS - really nothing below 110 in my price range other than matchbox studios. I really didn't want to downsize since space was the criteria.
* Morningside - as Columbia spreads north this is just as (un)affordable as the UWS.
* Washington Heights - I kept hearing a lot of mixed reviews. I looked at a few places east and west of Broadway and I ultimately didn't feel comfortable walking around after dark with the hours I keep. Probably my own perception vs. reality, but I need to be comfortable where I am. FWIW, this was the same issue with East Harlem. I saw a great place at 115 & 1st but didn't feel comfortable given my hours.
* Astoria/LIC - as pricy/pricier than Manhattan and I felt that if I was going to pay the price, I'd rather the convenience of Manhattan
* Riverdale/Park Slope - there's a reason I lumped them together, I swear! I housesat for a friend in both locations which allowed me to test drive the commute in addition to being a good friend. Both areas were nice but ooph, what a hike.

Side note: what on earth is Hudson Highlands? The broker speak needs to stop. As near as I can tell it's the southern end of Washington Heights that was Hamilton Heights a few years back.

Anyway, thanks all for your wonderful suggestions. I'm in the process of moving now and will update that thread when done.
posted by TravellingCari at 10:59 AM on September 7, 2012

Best answer: Hudson Heights... it's the area bordered by 181st Street to the south, Ft Washington to the east and Ft Tryon Park to the north. I lived on 181st for the first 6 years I was in Manhattan. It's a lovely area, quite gentrified, and convenient to the A line. Dr. Ruth lives there, and McCaulay Culkin used to.
posted by kimdog at 7:01 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh I know what Hudson Heights is, it's Hudson Highlands that's baffling me. I think the areas now overlap. Thanks though
posted by TravellingCari at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2012

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