Where to live in New York
March 27, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Another Brooklyn (or maybe Queens) neighborhoods question.

I'm thinking of moving from Chicago to New York, but I have no idea which neighborhoods I should be looking at to figure out if I can afford to live there. I'm looking at Brooklyn and Queens (I'm not interested in Manhattan).

On my most recent visit, I stayed in Bed-Stuy off the Kingston-Throop stop and I really liked the feel of the area and the housing stock—but ideally I'd be somewhere where there is a little more to do within walking distance.

I'd like to be able to go and hang out at a bar when I feel like getting out of the house without having to take a train or a bus. My tastes run more toward divey older bars and if I never see an artisanal cocktail list again it will be too soon, but I would like to live somewhere where there are bars that youngish people go to (I am in my late 20s). It would be also be nice to have a decent source of groceries nearby.

I don't really know what my budget should be—obviously I will be paying much more than I do here. I have lived in many studios and am not willing to do so again—I need at least a 1-bedroom.

Right now I work from home, and if that were to change I'm not sure what part of the city I'd end up working in, so commuting considerations are not foremost in my mind.

Thank you all in advance.
posted by enn to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you just described Astoria.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you can afford to pay between $1,300 and $1,800 a month in rent, you should be able to find an apartment big enough for you in a nice Brooklyn neighborhood without a problem. Less than that, and you'll start to be limited to places that have longer train rides or are in less interesting/comfortable parts of the city.

You should probably be looking at the strip of southwest Brooklyn that follows the N/R line -- the very southern end of Park Slope, Greenwood Heights and Sunset Park. Lots of great restaurants, good-to-excellent access to grocery stores, and more than a few divey locals. (One of which is in a bowling alley, oddly enough?) You'd be able to get a small two bedroom for around $1,500 that's close to the subway and in a safe, pleasant part of the city with trains that get you into midtown in less than 45 minutes. You can also zip up and down 5th ave on the B63, which lets you enjoy all the great restaurants in Park Slope and Prospect Heights without having to pay that kind of rent.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

"South Slope" bleeding into Windsor Terrace? This is really hard to answer if you can't give us some hint of what you are willing to pay for rent.
posted by Falconetti at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2012

On my most recent visit, I stayed in Bed-Stuy off the Kingston-Throop stop and I really liked the feel of the area and the housing stockā€”but ideally I'd be somewhere where there is a little more to do within walking distance.

Parts of Bushwick may fit the bill- it's right next to Bed-Stuy but is becoming a bit of a young peoples' enclave, so there's more to do within walking distance.

I also really liked living in Astoria, but I observed that people who lived there didn't often want to go to other boroughs, and people in other boroughs didn't ever want to come visit. It was sort of annoying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:52 AM on March 27, 2012

So you just make friends who live in Queens. You don't need those Brooklyn snobs anyway.

I lived in Bushwick, Forest Hills, and Astoria, and the latter was definitely my favorite. Plenty of things to do, places to eat and shop, and my commute to the city was super fast (caveat: I worked on the UES).
posted by elsietheeel at 9:57 AM on March 27, 2012

I think Greenwood Heights (between South Slope and Sunset Park, and also you should look at those areas) is up your alley. Also Astoria.

Maybe look at Ridgewood, Queens, too? It's near Bushwick, cheap, nice housing stock, still seems pretty blue collar but edging into hipster territory. Dunno if there's much to do right around there but again, plenty in Bushwick/Williamsburg. The main knock on it (and the reason I don't know anyone living there) is that it's a longish commute on the M train, which is often running with service changes, but maybe that doesn't matter much to you.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:07 AM on March 27, 2012

Former Chicago resident now living in NYC here...

As someone who lived there for years, I wouldn't recommend any part of Bushwick as containing walkable fun. The fun starts in East Williamsburg, and even then it's a walk.

Young people and young, hip fun=Williamsburg. This is like Wicker Park. There is an element of fusion food and artisanal everything, it is what it is. Nearby Greenpoint=Logan Square Village.

The East Village= Clark and Belmont, the West Village is closer to a Lincoln Park vibe, only more precious/granola.

Astoria has young people and old things but personally, it is too far out for me and the rest of Queens isn't up my alley AT ALL. This is like Andersonville or Evanston and the other parts of Queens, especially Jackson Heights=Rogers Park.

Chelsea is Boys' Town.

The Upper East side is like North Lakeshore Drive, not much to do and expensive-- Yorkville is like way N. Lakeshore Drive, more cut off.

The nicer parts of Brooklyn that are near Prospect Park are a lot like the nicer parts of Ravenswood, with perhaps a few more young people attractions thrown in.

The Bronx=Garfield Park, Botanical Gardens and Zoo and nuffin' else I'd want to do, plus it's faaar from everything else.

Anyway, if I were you I'd live in Williamsburg or the East Village. Barring that, downtown Brooklyn/Park Slope.
posted by devymetal at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

(This Ridgewood Yelp list actually seems quite promising, given your criteria.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2012

(But if you are willing to go more expensive then yeah Brooklyn. I am mainly worried about your artisanal cocktail aversion; on that basis alone, most of Brooklyn these days is likely to throw you into a blind rage.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and anywhere in Manhattan north of the Park is basically a combo of Pilsen/Humbolt Park.
posted by devymetal at 10:17 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would say Bushwick, moving into Bed-Stuy or Clinton Hill.

Bushwick, especially off the Morgan and Jefferson L stops actually have quite a few bars these days, much more than there were when I moved into the neighborhood two years ago.

Parts of Bed-Stuy are picking up in terms of walking distance entertainment--especially those parts closer to Clinton Hill (ie the west side of Bed-Stuy).

You DON'T want to live in Williamsburg if you want to avoid artisanal cocktails, because that's all there is now (super-bougie--It's mostly young people who have moved from the Upper East side and aging hipsters with babies. So essentially it's Park Slope without the brownstones.)

Greenpoint still has some things in it's favor, but it's getting pretty pricey.

I'm thinking about moving to Clinton Hill this summer only because it's really quite pretty and fun places are opening up pretty quickly. I don't have much familiarity with other BK neighborhoods, but I get the impression that Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens is quite nice, but also pricey and lacking in dive-y options.
posted by greta simone at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2012

I lived in Ridgewood and Ridgewood is kind of a dump with nothing to do. Like a less fun Bushwick. And the thing about Sunset Park is the commute can be pretty brutal if you aren't near the 36th or 59th St subway stops.

I would recommend Astoria -- it's unpretentious, has your sort of nightlife (along with every other kind), and is convenient to most places in Manhattan (GLARING EXCEPTION: Financial District). It's also cheaper than most of Brooklyn, esp. Williamsburg.

However the housing stock will be nothing like what you saw at Kingston-Throop -- mostly small 1920s rowhouses and big 1920s apartment buildings. If you like brownstones, Brooklyn along the A, C, F, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines is your option. Kingston-Throop is not such a nice neighborhood, although I guess they have a Foodtown now.
posted by zvs at 11:21 AM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: This is really hard to answer if you can't give us some hint of what you are willing to pay for rent

I'm not trying to be coy—but I'm not really sure when and under what circumstances I would make the move, so it's hard to be specific. To guess wildly, regarding Narrative Priorities's range, $1300 is probably near the higher end of what I would like to spend, and at $1800 I'd have a hard time convincing myself to make the move. FWIW, I'm used to living in pretty undermaintained apartments.

devymetal, your list is very helpful. If it helps, I currently live in Edgewater and don't hate it but I've gotten pretty thoroughly bored. If I stay in Chicago I'll probably move to Pilsen or Humboldt Park or maybe Logan Square—somewhere more young and hipstery than where I am but not as hipstery as Wicker Park/Bucktown.

Thank you to everyone else as well, these recommendations are really great and Astoria sounds promising although I worry about it being too difficult to get to other interesting parts of the city (which is kind of the problem I have with my neighborhood here).
posted by enn at 11:31 AM on March 27, 2012

$1300 for a 1 bedroom will be tough in a good neighborhood, gotta say. It's certainly doable but it will probably be below market rate in most parts of Brooklyn that have been discussed here and could take some searching. Astoria, Bushwick, Sunset Park or Bay Ridge will be easier. Studios will be easier if you could be open to it. I wouldn't expect to pay much under $1300 for a 1 bedroom. Again, it's possible, but not easy if you're in the position of moving from out of town and needing to find something within a particular window.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 12:14 PM on March 27, 2012

You cannot get the equivalent of any Chicago neighborhood in Brooklyn for anything approaching Chicago prices. I had a 2 bedroom apartment in Lakeview when I lived in Chicago; the rent on that was roughly half what I pay for a 1 bedroom garden apartment in Park Slope.

Brooklyn (and NYC generally) is not magic. If your job is not location-dependent, there isn't anything specific about NYC you want, and money is an issue, don't move to NYC. It's another big city. It's worth trying out for a while if you can afford it, but it's not worth downgrading every aspect of your life other than the weather to come out here. And the weather's not much better.
posted by sinfony at 1:03 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm not expecting anything like the same prices as I pay here. (The range I'm looking at is around double my current rent.) But I am fed up with Chicago, have always enjoyed New York (during visits and during one six-month stint working there), miss the northeastern US where I grew up and have friends and family, and the job market in my field is much better in NY than here.
posted by enn at 1:08 PM on March 27, 2012

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