Where should I live in south Brooklyn?
March 27, 2012 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Brooklyn apartment hunting: Tell me about Bensonhurst/ Dyker Heights/ Midwood!

I am looking for an apartment in Brooklyn!

Difficulty #1: Budget is around $1050 for a studio or small 1 bedroom. I'm not interested in roommates.

Difficulty #2: I work somewhere in the vicinity between Borough Park and Bensonhurst, close to the 18th Ave. stop on the N line.

I've spent enough time in Ditmas Park to know that I love it there, and Kensington is my other top choice, but I'm also wondering if I should consider Bensonhurst, Midwood, and Dyker Heights. I don't have a car, and I really want to live somewhere that's walkable and somewhere that has decent subway access even if I don't commute that way. (I do like to go into Manhattan on weekends.) So I'm a bit worried that those neighborhoods would be too car-centered, too suburban, too difficult to access on public transit. Anything you can say about quality of life in other respects would be appreciated, too!

Are there other neighborhoods I should be considering? I would be okay venturing further from the immediate area as long as the place was on the D, F, or N line.
posted by Jeanne to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Best answer: Hi, I grew up in the Midwood/Dyker/Bensonhurst area and still live Bensonhurst! There's nothing fun here! Seriously. Outside of 86th Street where you can get basically any sort of fresh foodstuff from around the world you want at dirt, dirt-cheap prices, that's basically it. The area is also slowly being acknowledged as a Chinatown, so there's plenty of authentic Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately, that's about it. There's no nightlife to speak of unless you want to go hang out in little clubs and lounges catering specifically to the Mexican and Russian populations.

Unfortunately, the commute to Manhattan is hella long. I used to work up in Columbus Circle and it was 1.5 hrs on the D train, each way. However, there are at least three train lines walking-distance from my apartment, and there's buses everywhere. You definitely do not need a car to get around Bensonhurst.

The F is a giant pain in the ass to live off of, because they're constantly doing constructions on it. The D and the N are also sort of a pain in the ass, because they'll constantly switch up which train is going uptown and which is going downtown on the weekends. That is, on one weekend, the D isn't running uptown between Stillwell and 36th, and the N isn't running downtown between 36th and Stillwell. So if you're going to depend on either line, you should have a strategy mapped out to get to the other one.

I had a lot of friends who lived around here, but quite literally everyone is moving to Kensington and South Slope. I'm trying to get out there as well, but I own my stupid apartment so it's going to be a while. But there's really no one to hang out with out here.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend, who moved to NYC five years ago and previously lived in Bed Stuy and Windsor Terrace likes Bensonhurst quite a bit. She says its very safe and quiet, which is great, I guess, but unless you're a homebody or particularly not fazed by having to travel a lot, you're going to get bored here.
posted by griphus at 6:20 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

One thing to consider about Dyker Heights: a portion of that neighborhood is known for having completely insane Christmas displays that draw huge crowds, and have even drawn even tour buses. The spot where the lights are is kind of a hike from subways, but at that time of year I imagine the traffic all through Dyker Heights would be kind of hairy.

The lights are awesome in an over-the-top kitsch way, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on March 27, 2012

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Midwood. Unless you're an Orthodox Jew or a nostalgic Russian immigrant, there's not much interesting at all. If you live on/near one of the commercial strips (Avenue M, Avenue J, Kings Highway, Coney Island Avenue), it's theoretically walkable, I suppose. The subway to Manhattan takes forever, though. I think Ditmas Park might be a better choice, at least terms of proximity to fun and interesting things.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:52 AM on March 27, 2012

Also, my old roommate and I were paying $1100 for a 2-bedroom about three-four years ago, so getting a studio for $1050 probably won't be too difficult, albeit that's on the low end. You'll have better luck with people renting out the upstairs apartment of their private house than with apartment buildings, though. Buildings tend to be owned by companies with absolutely no regard for anything. Meanwhile, my little old landlady knocked $100 off the rent, per month, when we told her we'd be fine paying in cash.
posted by griphus at 6:53 AM on March 27, 2012

(Avenue M, Avenue J, Kings Highway, Coney Island Avenue)

Also, Bay Parkway between 60th and 86th.
posted by griphus at 6:54 AM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: You may want to look at the southern end of Ditmas Park (as I am currently contemplating myself). There are some basic amenities on Avenue H (and truly exceptional sandwich shop Salud) as well as an easy walking proximity to the more commercial areas by Newkirk and, though a bit longer, Cortelyou. I believe the bus that runs on Foster goes pretty near to your general work area.

Also, what about Sunset Park? It is off the D and N and the food is tasty! Not as charming as DP though.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:11 AM on March 27, 2012

Also, Bay Parkway between 60th and 86th.

Yeah, sorry, didn't mean to leave out BP, I was sticking to Midwood. :)
posted by greatgefilte at 7:38 AM on March 27, 2012

Dyker Heights has no subway access. You have to take the bus to Bay Ridge or Bensonhurst. I know some people who lived down there, and their apartment was cheap (something like $1000 a month for a 3-bedroom), though tiny, and extremely out of the way.

You should be able to find a decent studio in your range in Kensington, if you look hard enough. I actually like Midwood, but its not very lively, and its far from Manhattan.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:11 AM on March 27, 2012

Actually, now that I'm thinking of it...you could probably do OK in Midwood if you have a car, don't work in Manhattan, and aren't terribly concerned about living in a cool neighborhood. There are enough local amenities that should be able to walk to stores and stuff, maybe even a neighborhood restaurant or two. On the weekend, you can take the train or drive to Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Prospect Heights, etc, to get your fill of Brooklyn's livelier precincts.

However, that's assuming that you don't have much reason to go to Manhattan either for work or play. There's enough to keep you occupied in Brooklyn that you could, easily, just have a Brooklyn-centric social life, but if yours is more Manhattan-centric...Midwood will feel very, very remote.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:20 AM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: I lived in Midwood for a couple of years off avenue J. It is completely orthodox jewish except for a few exceptions (like me) and my largely eastern european building.

The Q ride was long but relatively reliable. Approx 45 min to Union square.

It was boring and pretty depressing but I had a studio with a seperate eat in kitchen for $795.

I now pay double that (more than) for a great location in the city and can't afford to leave my apt so life is still boring just in a different way!

If it's at all convenient for your work it is very cheap and worth trying for a year.

You can also go to the russian baths at the other end of Avenue I and McDonald street (?!). There's an experience for you!.
posted by bquarters at 8:22 AM on March 27, 2012

(You can get bus over to Ave I F train, running across J street every 5 min or so)
posted by bquarters at 8:24 AM on March 27, 2012

Oh, if you choose to live around an Orthodox Jewish business center, keep in mind that they tend to get deliveries really, really early on Thursdays and Fridays. I used to live across the street from Moishe's Discount Supermarket on Ave. M and there would be all sorts of delivery truck hubbub at like 4 AM.
posted by griphus at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your replies!

I am a super-boring homebody kind of person (I'm also a writer in my spare time, which means I don't really do the nightlife thing) so it sounds like I might actually be OK in Bensonhurst or Midwood.

mlle valentine, the southern end of Ditmas park is exactly my sweet spot for commute convenience and charmingness. That's where I'm concentrating my search. I just want to be sure that I'm investigating all my options.

(Sunset Park is an option, but I seem to be having trouble finding anything in my price range.)
posted by Jeanne at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2012

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