Should I move to Williamsburg, BK?
June 2, 2012 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Should I move to Williamsburg, BK?

I'm considering moving to Brooklyn, specifically Williamsburg. (I currently live in Manhattan.) I'm wondering if I'll like it and was hoping MeFites had relevant experience to share.

I've hung out there a bunch (restaurants, bars, etc) and always have a great time. I realize living there could be a different story, though. As far as I can tell, there are two major demographics of people who live there: just-out-of-college hipsters and married couples with young kids. I'm neither...I'm female, single, in my mid-thirties, and non-hipster. I'm a little worried about feeling like I don't fit in, but I'm not sure if this is a valid concern. Most of my friends live in Manhattan but are happy to hang out in Brooklyn.

I would love to hear opinions/experiences/things I might not have thought of about living in this neighborhood after many years of living in Manhattan. Thanks!
posted by whitelily to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
I lived in Williamsburg about a year ago and really enjoyed it. Never found the neighborhood to feel like you needed to fit into those groups to live there, especially if you were someone who felt comfortable hanging out there normally.

If you're more comfortable in a similar demographic, have you thought about Greenpoint? The neighborhoods are roughly similar in price and it tends to skew a little older and more female, without turning into Park Slope. Greenpoint is taking a lot of pointers from the best things in Williamsburg while still being nearby.
posted by gregoryg at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2012

I think you'll be just fine there, but I would stay away from Bedford. The area around the Lorimer stop is more chill and less straight out of college hipster fairy land. And still safe and walkable to all of Williamsburg's attractions.

It might help if you let us know what it is you're looking for exactly. Other spots like Astoria or brownstone Brooklyn could be more your speed.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:32 PM on June 2, 2012

I think its important for us to know 1. Why you want to move at all and 2. Why Williamsburg, specifically? If its just the good times you've had at bars and restaurants, I'd say that's a really poor reason particularly since you know you don't fit the typical demographic of the neighborhood. Not that there's anything wrong with moving somewhere where you're "different" but why would you do that without any real reason?

Personally, I'm not a fan at all of Williamsburg. I loved living in Manhattan and Bay Ridge.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:00 PM on June 2, 2012

If you want to live near Williamsburg, but somewhere a little quieter, I recommend Greenpoint. The area around McGolrick park is nice (but don't live on Nassau Ave - the buses make it very loud), as is the area between Manhattan Ave and Franklin Ave (below Greenpoint Ave).
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:40 PM on June 2, 2012

blaneyphoto, you might have a point. I dislike my current neighborhood (UES) and originally thought I wanted to move somewhere downtown, but started thinking that more of a change might be in order...might be fun to explore somewhere new.

I do like Greenpoint but would rather not deal with the G train + a transfer on a regular basis.
posted by whitelily at 9:39 PM on June 2, 2012

Where do you work?

The commute from there is a drag after living in Manhattan. YMMV.
posted by jbenben at 9:58 PM on June 2, 2012

I live in Greenpoint and it's really just like a 15 minute walk to the L train if you really want to avoid the G. I will say that during the most important times (such as peak job commuting hours) the G is really consistent.

I'm female, single, in my mid-thirties, and non-hipster.

There are more people like you out here than you probably realize. I'm in my mid-thirties (did I just type that??) and while I am often amused/shocked by the way I have aged out of certain aspects of the neighborhood, it's really just a remarkably relaxed area, compared to almost anywhere I've been in Manhattan.
posted by hermitosis at 10:25 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work near the Graham Street stop on the L, and I have to admit it's a nice neighborhood. One big draw: there are almost no chain stores in the area. No Duane Reade, no Citi Bank, no Starbucks. There is a Chase on Grand, and a Dunkin Donuts on Graham near Metropolitan.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:26 AM on June 3, 2012

There's always Queens. Just saying.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 AM on June 3, 2012

If you're just looking to get out of UES, why not explore more of Brooklyn? The Fort Greene/Clinton Hill area has lots of restaurants and coffee houses and such as well, for example, but it also has a wider demographic mix. (If you really want close access to Williamsburg, too, you can ride on the bike path along Flushing and up Kent to Williamsburg in about 20 minutes.) Plus the access to Manhattan isn't bad.

There are a lot of other neighborhoods in Brooklyn; why not try exploring specific neighborhoods with an eye towards what it'd be like to live there, if you're still in the "deciding" phase? Who knows, you may find that you fall so in love with, say, Boerum Hill that you say "yes! Here! Forget Williamsburg!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on June 3, 2012

Granted I haven't lived in Manhattan since 2002 or so (and could be dubbed a hipster by some people, I guess), but I notice virtually no difference in lifestyle between the two boroughs.

If you hang out in Williamsburg and don't feel out of place, I don't understand why you would if you lived there. Also, seriously, the "hipster"/"non-hipster" divide is not so strong that you would be unwelcome living in a particular neighborhood.

Then again, I agree with EmpressCallipygos. If you're so worried that the hipsters in Williamsburg will push you down and steal your lunch money, maybe look into other neighborhoods? I live in Clinton Hill and love it -- it's very diverse and friendly. I just came from Prospect Heights, which is also very pleasant.

If you are seriously square to the point of actually being nervous that someone in the line at Blue Bottle will look funny at you, maybe Astoria, Queens would be up your alley. I feel like a lot of the folks who like the Upper East Side ultimately drift that way, and almost everyone I know who is all Super Serial about how awful "hipsters" are lives there for whatever random reason.

Just avoid Park Slope if you don't want to be alienated by your singledom. Seriously, that place makes me want to get my tubes tied.
posted by Sara C. at 7:55 AM on June 3, 2012

Oh, and Astoria has a really easy commute to midtown. I also liked the fact that a lot of Prospect Heights is close to either the 4/5 or the Q.

Clinton Hill and Fort Greene are relatively poorly connected to Manhattan compared to other parts of Brooklyn and most of western Queens.
posted by Sara C. at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2012

Ok, I promise I'm not going to just keep coming in here to push Greenpoint, but if you're wary of relying on the g, don't overlook the possibility of taking the g up into queens and transferring to the e, m, or 7. Unless you work on or around 14th street, that's probably going to get you where you're going quicker than the L anyway.

But, even if you do want to live in Williamsburg, I wouldn't really worry about the hipsters. I always say that the best thing about living in NYC is that strangers don't care about you, so you can look like whatever you want. You can dress like a hipster, or like you still live on the Upper East Side (and holy shit get out of THERE as fast as you can) or you can wear a cat on your head, and most people won't care.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work in Union Sq and was planning to move somewhere walkable to work. The L from Williamsburg would be really convenient but obviously walking to work is awesome.
posted by whitelily at 8:46 AM on June 3, 2012

Dunno what your work schedule is like, but the L train into Manhattan during typical work commute hours is so crammed that you often wind up having to let one or more trains pass by because there's no room to get on. And even when you can get on, it can be extremely unpleasantly packed.
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 AM on June 3, 2012

To Union Sq., here are some ideas that are at least as convenient as living on the L train*, if not moreso:

Prospect Heights close to the Franklin Ave 4/5 stop.

Prospect Heights close to the 7th Ave Q stop.

Fort Greene genuinely close to Atlantic Terminal, or even better the Dekalb Ave Q.

Downtown Brooklyn close to either Borough Hall or Nevins St. 4/5 train (possibility for a 15 minute commute if you live very close to the train).

Bensonhurst near the 36th Ave N train.

Probably anything in Astoria that's close to the N/Q line.

*Keep in mind that, unless you do very well financially or maybe get into some large loft-share situation where you have 5 roommates, you probably won't be living half a block from the Bedford L stop.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on June 3, 2012

Thanks everyone! I like many of the other neighborhoods mentioned but really have narrowed it down to Williamsburg or Union Square/EV at this point so was just looking for feedback about living in Williamsburg. I appreciate everyone's input - thanks for taking the time to help me out.
posted by whitelily at 5:46 AM on June 4, 2012

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