Pipe dreamin'
February 26, 2013 8:37 AM   Subscribe

A studio or one-bedroom in a desirable* part of Brooklyn for less than $1200/month. Is this even slightly possible anymore?

I currently live with roommates, but would love to be able to live by myself. However, I would rather continue to live with roommates than move to a neighborhood I don't like.

*Right now I'm in Cobble Hill, and the parts of Brooklyn I'd like to live in include anything west or north of Prospect Park and south of Williamsburg.

I've checked various apartment listing sites, but there's almost nothing in my price range, and I have no clue which ones are legit. I emailed a couple people from Trulia, but I pretty much expect them to be scams. I have only ever subletted in NYC and I really don't know the best way to go about renting my own place.

Do any apartments in that price range exist anymore? If so, how on Earth do I find them- before someone else does?
posted by showbiz_liz to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An old roommate of mine found a studio in Clinton Hill for about that. But she had to literally leave her job the moment she heard about it so she could be at the renters' office the second it went on the market, and she had a check in hand ready to give him the first months' rent. Also, it sounds like the studio was pretty small.

So - it is possible if you can put up with a big lack of space and have ample free time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on February 26, 2013

I live a little ways up from Coney Island and a 1-bedroom around here (at least one in a building that isn't totally falling apart like the ones I used to live in) goes for about $1000.

You might stand a chance in that Greenwood/South Slope/Windsor Terrace/Sunset Park area that everyone brokers under a different name -- a friend of mine has 1-bedroom on 23rd and 5th for $1500, I think -- but the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill/etc. area is right out. There could be something left in Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill, but I seriously doubt anything genuinely habitable is available for $1200.

Your absolute best bet is probably going to be getting as many brokers as you can get looking for you and being able to move with, like, a week's notice.
posted by griphus at 8:44 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a 2 bedroom for 1225 in a part of Bushwick that might be nice in a year or two. I got that by fixing my landlords' computers for a year until I had befriended them enough to get a good deal on a vacant apartment. I don't know how translatable my particular experience is to you, but I would imagine that ingratiating yourself with your landlord and working with them (as opposed to a realtor) to find you something in your budget would at least minimize the number of people trying to screw you over.
posted by modernserf at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might have some luck in the part of Prospect Heights that is east of the park, though it's beyond your "desirable Brooklyn" border.

For Clinton Hill, you could maybe find something west of Myrtle Ave. in the part of the neighborhood that verges on South Williamsburg.

Bed Stuy is also worth looking at, but probably not what you'd consider "desirable Brooklyn".

Basically you're looking at the absolute fringes of your zone, in areas that are desirable by association but not as cute as the "prime" parts of the neighborhood. And within that, you're looking at the bottom of the barrel in terms of apartments. Basement studios, chintzy new construction "Fedders Buildings" (as my friends and I have termed these, you probably know what I'm talking about), living over a fish market next to the BQE, stuff like that.
posted by Sara C. at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2013

Friends of mine were recently looking and saw at least one studio in far north Fort Green/Navy Yard area for around that. Still not a super neighborhood, and very inconvenient to the subway, but near-ish to some nice areas.

They basically spent hours a day on Craigslist and walking through neighborhoods, calling any "apartments available" number they saw. They finally found a pretty cute 1 bedroom in Ft. Green proper for $1400.
posted by EmilyFlew at 9:00 AM on February 26, 2013

Also, if you don't mind living southwest of the park and taking the train to fun instead of walking to it, you can probably pick up a studio in Kensington for that much if you're lucky and willing to move quickly.
posted by griphus at 9:12 AM on February 26, 2013

Still not a super neighborhood

I used to live nearby and it is a perfectly safe and adequate neighborhood.

It is, however, really far from the subway. I'm not sure I'd want to live any further northwest than maybe Myrtle and Hall without a car or a serious commitment to biking.

You also get into food desert territory, to an extent, though if you get up towards Bedford Ave I think there are some good groceries opening up that cater to the Hasidic community over there.

There's also not a whole lot in the way of cool bars, coffee places, shopping, etc. the further from Myrtle Ave you go.
posted by Sara C. at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2013

Have you looked at Kensington or Ditmas park? It's not in your "zone", but it's much cuter and gentrified than the fringey parts of your desired area. It's also served by the Q train, which makes it a lot less far away than it seems at first glance. If I were doing Brooklyn over again, I'd pick Kensington/Ditmas over Clinton Hill based on the transit situation alone.
posted by Sara C. at 9:16 AM on February 26, 2013

...there are some good groceries opening up that cater to the Hasidic community over there.

NB: If you're relying on this, expect your food budget to go up about 1.5x. There's a significant markup for Kosher.
posted by griphus at 9:17 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was looking 6 months ago, the cheapest/nicest studios I could find in south-ish Brooklyn were $1300-1400, and in Greenwood Heights which is technically west of the park, but below the expressway (basically it's Very South Slope or Very North Sunset Park).
posted by unknowncommand at 9:24 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crown Heights? Near franklin avenue?
posted by Riton at 9:39 AM on February 26, 2013

Maybe in the Bay Ridge area?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on February 26, 2013

I had a lovely 1.5 bedroom in a great part of Bed-Stuy for 1200, 3 years ago.
posted by entropone at 10:04 AM on February 26, 2013

Response by poster: averageamateur: I have an entry level professional-track job that pays about 40K. My current rent is about $850/month. I have never had a professional job anywhere else so I honestly don't know if my salary makes up for it or not; I don't know what I'd be paid elsewhere.

The responses to this post have pretty much convinced me to stay in my old place for now. The rent I currently pay seems almost unfindable now even for other situations identical to mine (sublet room in a larger apartment)- and I only moved here a year ago, and had a ton of choice then!
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2013

Yeah, I lived in the LA suburbs for a year and I was staggered at what I could afford. Salaries are definitely higher here, but not enough to completely bridge the gap. The traditional "rent should be no more than 30% (or whatever) of monthly income" rule of thumb absolutely does not apply in NYC unless you're both making bank and living in a cheap neighborhood. Spending half your income on rent is a perfectly ordinary (if not straight-up desirable for lower-income people) situation here.

Also very few people live alone - I literally know one non-wealthy person who doesn't have roommates (I mean, I'm sure there are lots of people living like that, but it's a rare situation comparatively.) Even when people make enough to get their own place, they will live with roommates by choice just to have a nicer apartment or live in a better neighborhood. Most people go directly from having roommates into cohabitating with a partner.
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on February 26, 2013

Also, I'll disagree with food being more expensive. There is very, very cheap and fresh food -- cheaper and fresher than anywhere I've ever lived! -- if you know where to shop. The prices at Trader Joe's are really expensive (sometimes twice as much) compared to where I buy food, but I also buy food in ethnic supermarkets in working-class neighborhoods the middle of nowhere. Hip, fun neighborhoods tend to be more expensive to shop for food in.
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Please don't ask side-questions in someone else's thread, just go ahead and post your own question to Ask Metafilter directly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2013

Depends on what your definition of desirable is.

In your price range in BK, you're looking at:
- Crown Hts between Franklin and Utica
- Prospect Lefferts Gardens
- Kensington / Ditmas Park
- Sunset Park
- Points south off of Ocean Parkway

If you're not married to living in Brooklyn, you can also easily find apartments in:
- Astoria (depending on the train (N/Q vs R and stop)
- Sunnyside (usually depends on proximity to "Sunnyside Gardens")
- Inwood / Washington Heights (depends on what side of Broadway you live on, oddly enough).

If you're not married to living in NYC itself, I know a lot of people who got priced out of Williamsburgh and Bed-Stuy that moved to Jersey City. Their rent is like $900 for a huge 1br and they're close to the PATH.
posted by NYC-BB at 9:31 PM on March 12, 2013

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