Moving to NY: How's my game plan? And other questions.
April 29, 2013 8:12 AM   Subscribe

The job part is secured. Now on to the "living there" part. Where should I live for $1200 or under, and how should I go about achieving this living situation?

I know, you saw the $1200 price point and were ready to crush my dreams. So let me just make it clear that yes, I am looking for a room in a shared living situation and not my own apartment/studio.

My work will be smack in the middle of the area Google Maps calls "Hudson Square" - it's a couple blocks from the Hudson st. 1 and the Spring st C/E, and maybe a half mile or so from all the lines on W. 4th st - not sure if that hike would get old, though.

I want to live somewhere that is safe and also has some stuff going on - it does not have to be the epicenter of everything hip and awesome, but I would prefer not to live in a wasteland of only crappy bodegas and fast food joints. A few cool bars, restaurants, and a healthy population of young people would be nice. I'd also like to try and keep the commute at 30 minutes or under. Sorry to everyone in Inwood and Washington Heights - it's too far, I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I guess I should try to be living either somewhere on the west side of the city, or on the C somewhere in Brooklyn - like Boerum Hill, Clinton Hill (around the Clinton-Washington or Lafayette stops)...what else am I missing? I see a whole lot more listings around Franklin ave, I guess that's more Bed-Stuy right? What's that like these days? From my sheltered internet research it seems like it's still sort of barren with maybe a tiny smattering of neat stuff, but overall not what I'm looking for. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong.

My plan: To sublet a place for the last two weeks of May while I scour craigslist and be ready to accept a June opening on the spot. I'd have all my credit reports, bank statements, etc together and ready to prove I'm not a bum.

Sorry, this is all over the place. I guess I'm trying to figure out if my plan is a good one (or if I'll need more time, or if there are other resources I'm missing besides craigslist), if my neighborhoods are within my budget, if there are any neighborhoods I'm missing or if some of my assumptions are completely incorrect and I'm going about this all wrong.

Any other advice - things you wished you did when you first tried to move here, 2013 edition - is also greatly appreciated.
posted by windbox to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Inwood & Washington Heights might be a little too far; it's also probably a "wasteland" given your standards. I do think you should consider stretching your commute standards to 45 minutes or less; I feel like 30 minutes or less is pushing it if you're not walking to work. Between walking to the subway, waiting for the train, taking the train (and maybe it's slow that day), walking to the office, 30 minutes or less might be pushing it from Brooklyn.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:18 AM on April 29, 2013

For $1200 for a share, you can probably live on the Upper West Side.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:21 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The E train from Long Island City in Queens would be about 30-35 minutes.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:21 AM on April 29, 2013

Hoboken is an option to consider. The PATH train leaves you at West 4 th.
posted by dfriedman at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks ThePinkSuperhero - I figured my commute will probably run closer to that - I'm really just going by google maps travel times but assume I'll need to add 10, 15 minutes or so. So if it says it takes 30 minutes from a cross street around the Clinton-Washington C stop, I add 10 minutes. I'm trying not to go over 30 or 35 minutes though by Google standards.
posted by windbox at 8:30 AM on April 29, 2013

There's plenty of stuff going on by Franklin, for what it's worth. Seems like there is a new bar/restaurant every week. I know a ton of grad students/other young people who live there and as far out as Utica Ave.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:37 AM on April 29, 2013

For $1200 for a share, you should be fine. It sounds like you are being realistic about what you can get.
Many many young people are moving to the Franklin area, including my mid 20's female cousin who moved 3 months ago and loves it. It is rapidly becoming hipper, younger, safer, with more restaurants. Not sure what your comfort level with NY and Brooklyn and tolerance for neighborhoods is, but I would recommend that unless you are city-savvy, you should stick to the parts of Franklin that are Northwest of Eastern Parkway. That said, my cousin lives on the "wrong" side of Eastern Parkway and has never had any problems. There is much less to do and see on the lower side though.

With your budget you might even find a share near the Lafayette C stop which puts you in the nicest part of Fort Greene and lets you be very close to the Barclays center stop which has tons of trains.

You should also consider living off the 2/3 in Brooklyn, because the transfer to the 1 is just across the platform at Chambers (I used to do that commute). Stops to look near would be Nevins, Bergen (prob on the Prospect Heights side, maybe on the Park Slope side too), Grand Army Plaza, and Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum (like Franklin, more fun to be on the west side of E.P.)
posted by rmless at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2013

Franklin Ave is now Prospect Heights which is now baby Park Slope, I had to leave because rents got too high. Is $1200 how much you are willing to pay for rent or how much you have to live on each month? Because for $1200 in rent you can get a 1 bedroom in any trendy up and coming Brooklyn neighborhood easily, including Prospect Heights. If you mean that you have $1200 a month to live on then $700 for a room is more what your looking for, which is not going to get you a place in Clinton Hill unless you're lucky. You may want to sublet longer just for the sake of learning the city and figuring out where the people you like to hang out with like to live. But basically the neighborhood names you are looking for in Brooklyn are: Prospect Heights, Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Fort Greene. I wasn't in love with Bushwick when I was apartment hunting due to the strip mall wasteland feel of it, but have recently met up with friends at a few places that are "trendier" for lack of a better word. If you are a young adult and attempting to date while here nothing involving a train or bus to Jersey will get you any points on a romance front. A lot of places in Crown and Prospect Heights (which used to be the same thing) are recently renovated 3 bedrooms that have been carved up into tiny tiny studios now. It's not worth it go hunt in other neighborhoods where that process has yet to start and try and find the buildings that haven't kept pace with the times. Also don't underestimate the value of the 4 block run of trendy stuff on Franklin Ave. If you're at $1200 a month total, you won't be able to afford to go out every night, but its nice to have stuff that doesn't require a trek to Manhattan to drink a beer and sit outside like you can at Franklin Park. Someone more knowledgeable can help you with Queens etc. Avoid anything near the G train. Also expect to pay your first and deposit with a cashier's check, if your name will be the one on the lease and have that money available in your account.
posted by edbles at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah $1200 for a share gives you lots of options. You could even find a very small, but decent one in the East Village or LES for that. If you want Brooklyn, which in my very biased opinion is better, then you have lots of options. Pretty much any of the neighborhoods you are looking in will provide you with shares in that range.

Franklin Ave is both Prospect Heights and Bed-Stuy. I live a block from Franklin Ave (I'm technically in Clinton Hill) and I will be moving into a full, renovated (with a private yard! yes, I brag, I brag) 1br for $1100 in a month, but I'm one of the lucky ones. My current share is $750 for my room in an apartment in the same building (renovated, one block from train). My commute from the Classon G to 23rd St C stop is 45 minutes, 30 on a good day, so don't let people scare you away from the G train. I have lived off the G in all but one of the many places I've lived in Brooklyn, and fuck all the haters, I love an underdog!

ANYWAY, Franklin Ave in Bed-Stuy has bars, restaurants, cafes, etc. Not a ton, but I rarely leave the neighborhood on the weekends (all my friends have ended up here too--from Wburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, we somehow all ended up here). I personally love this neighborhood--it's by no means a barren wasteland, but it isn't so dense with shit that it's a party everywhere every night. With your budget though you could definitely find a share closer in in Clinton Hill or Fort Greene even. But if you want to save some $, stay a little further east. I think your idea of aiming for the Lafayatte or Clinton-Washington stop would suit your needs well though.

Two weeks will give you time to find a place, but you'll be devoting lots of time to it. You might want to give yourself a month for a few reasons: 1) You won't feel rushed and 2) People start putting up ads the month before rooms are vacant, so if you lose two weeks of searching, you lose half your options.

MeMail if you have any more questions about the area. I live here and love it and there are lots of good deals and cool things to do, you just have to know where/how to find them. They are filming GIRLS on my block tonight, so get here before it turns into Williamsburg!
posted by greta simone at 9:43 AM on April 29, 2013

Sorry, Franklin Ave is more Crown Heights on the southern end than Prospect Heights. But whatever.
posted by greta simone at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2013

I think it's great to live right off the a/c/e if your job location is set there and stable. I would make that you're only consideration - a five or fewer minute walk from your own station. I can't tell you what a quality of life difference it makes on ugly days or for shlepping. Then just follow the whole line and be open for the place that feels right to you.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2013

Response by poster: Is $1200 how much you are willing to pay for rent or how much you have to live on each month? Because for $1200 in rent you can get a 1 bedroom in any trendy up and coming Brooklyn neighborhood easily, including Prospect Heights.

Whoa whoa whoa, $1200/month for one bedrooms? Can anyone else verify this?

1200/month is not my monthly take-home, it would be for rent, preferably including utilities. Though I'd be willing to bump that up and feel good about it if it was for a great deal - never seen one bedrooms or even studios for that low though, not in Clinton Hill or Prospect/Crown Heights. If they exist, please advise on how to procure!
posted by windbox at 10:18 AM on April 29, 2013

Is $1200 how much you are willing to pay for rent or how much you have to live on each month? Because for $1200 in rent you can get a 1 bedroom in any trendy up and coming Brooklyn neighborhood easily, including Prospect Heights.

Not quite. And definitely not in Prospect Heights. But yes, it is possible, just very unlikely, and less likely to be more than a small studio in a far-flung corner of a neighborhood. Most people, including myself, find them because they either already live in the building and know the landlord, or are friends with the previous tenant who recommends them. Some people luck out on craigslist too, but even less frequently. And you probably won't find any brokers with places that cheap, because people with places that cheap don't need help getting them rented.

So really, diligence, knowing people, and sheer luck get you solo places for $1200 and under.
posted by greta simone at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whoa whoa whoa, $1200/month for one bedrooms? Can anyone else verify this?

Maybe sorta-possible in Crown Heights east of Franklin if you get lucky or are OK living in a bandbox. I don't know that this is a good beginner neighborhood, though, and I wouldn't go east of Nostrand or south of Eastern Parkway. It's not really possible in Prospect Heights or in "any trendy up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood."

(Also, a word on the distinction between Prospect and Crown Heights: The border is traditionally Washington. Real estate agents have been trying to push the border east, but by now the cheap stuff has gotten so far east that they've basically given up on even trying to call it Prospect Heights and just use Crown Heights, which it is. But Prospect Heights is a real neighborhood, bounded roughly by Flatbush on the west, Washington on the east, Atlantic on the north and Eastern Parkway/Prospect Park on the south.)

For $1200 for a share you can do pretty well, though. I'd look at Morningside Heights, Harlem south of 125th, Long Island City, Fort Greene and maybe Williamsburg.

With Williamsburg, you've got to beware of stuff that's really in Bushwick advertised as "East Williamsburg" - Williamsburg is the Bedford, Lorimer, Graham and Grand stops on the L train. Montrose is arguable. Anything past there is Bushwick.

Morningside Heights is all nice, but would be at the high end of your price range (or exceed it) and is overrun with Columbia students. Long Island City has a sub-neighborhood called Hunter's Point that is really nice and quite close to Manhattan, but large portions of it are industrial and desolate.

Probably my favorites of these would be southwest corner of Harlem (125th on the north, Central Park on the south, Morningside Park on the west, 7th ave on the east) and Fort Greene. Fort Greene is east of Downtown Brooklyn, north of Atlantic, to about Vanderbilt or Washington. East of there is Clinton Hill. Fort Greene is safe, has lots of nice brownstones, a lively restaurant and bar scene, BAM is in the neighborhood, and it has great subway access. Clinton Hill is OK, too, but like most of Brooklyn, it gets sketchier as you move east (towards Bed-Stuy).

Well, that was a lot longer than I intended...good luck!
posted by breakin' the law at 12:24 PM on April 29, 2013

Also, in Clinton Hill you are basically stuck with the C or the G. Fort Greene is a little closer-in and you'd have far more subway options.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2013

South of EP actually seems to have less crime but also less cafes and other markets of gentrification. Around Kingston it's a totally different neighborhood (Hasidic). Really just come and spend two weeks on the go looking at everything in your price range. It's the only way to get a sense of the possibilities.

If you end up in shared lease I'd recommend asking to start with a 3 or 6 month lease to make sure you're a good match with the roommates.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:59 PM on April 29, 2013

I've seen listings for ~$1200 1 bedroom apartments in Bed-Stuy, although generally east of Nostrand where the neighborhood contains mostly bodegas and fast food joints. Not sure what that would net you in terms of space or building quality, either. If you're okay with roommates then you could get a really nice place in any of the above neighborhoods with money to spare.

The Franklin Ave. area of Crown Heights has definitely grown a lot over the past few years and has a lot of fun stuff to do, although friends who live there have complained that it has resulted in an influx of noisy drunk people during the weekend. I'm partial to the area of Bed-Stuy next to Clinton Hill, which is full of adorable brownstones and has enough cafes, restaurants, and bars to keep you busy. Crown Heights has the advantage in terms of non-food or drink related entertainment, though.

Will you have the opportunity to spend time in the area before you start working? Between a full time job and apartment searching you'll have a tough time getting enough breathing room to really explore these neighborhoods. You can't really lose with any of them though, they have their own quirks and upsides but they're all reasonably nice and meet your criteria.
posted by fox problems at 2:10 PM on April 29, 2013

We're paying $1250 for a true One Bedroom in Flatbush, off of a very decent Q stop witha 30 minute commute to the city, near that weird little patch of Park Slope style restaurants on Cortelyou Road.. We found it after staring at the empty barren wasteland of Studios being called 1 bedrooms around Prospect Heights for $1100-$1300. When I was living with 2 or more people I was never paying over $600 as part of my share, you can find one bedrooms and studios for $1200 just not in Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Park Slope proper (or you have to pay a broker fee to snag it, you have to go to the areas a block or two outside actual defined boundary of the neighborhood, which still leaves you within walking distance of the Franklin avenue type nonsense). Basically if you shove your price into craigslist and type the area you're looking for you can find stuff that's relatively close by for cheap and then it's just a matter of being ready to hand the agent a check for first and being the first one to see the cool apartment. Also the first three places any broker shows you will be dank tiny cramped pits, if you're going off to see other properties they have that are similar, so never take one of those.

posted by edbles at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2013

This is a great site for seeing what's available by location:

Regardless of what you can find or afford, I'm a big fan of living in shared apartments when you first move to NY, particularly if you don't already have lots of friends and family in the area. There are obviously no guarantees that you'll be particularly close -- or even friends-- with your roomates, in hang-out-all-time-share-all-your-secrets way. But it's just nice, when you're still getting to know the city, to have someone there if you leave your keys at work, or can't figure out how the hell people get laundry done, or are curious about what a "regular" coffee is.

And to address you underlying question -- almost 10 years ago I did what you're doing now. It sounds like you've done good research and have a solid plan in place. I loved my time in NY -- I hope yours is just as great.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 7:38 PM on April 29, 2013

This thread has devolved into "what's the trendy Brooklyn 'hood of the season".

Despite what everyone is saying, Brooklyn aint a short commute, and it's a lot worse on the weekends when everything is broken or runs local.

Here's my advice: Find a basic share that isn't terribly far from work. Live there for a year or so and save some money. Spend that year walking around town and finding where you REALLY want to live, then focusing a search there in the future. People talk about "this neighborhood costs that", but there's a LOT of difference from building to building.
posted by NYC-BB at 8:01 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Brooklyn and uptown are practically different cities, from a social point of view. It's often a good hour to travel between them.

It looks like the A/C train to Brooklyn would be your fastest commute to an affordable neighborhood, since you're heading to the West Side. If you ride the C, you can ride 50-year-old subway cars! I would get to know a neighborhood and block in Bed-Stuy or Clinton Hill in person before signing a lease there, though. That's not a bad idea for the rest of NYC, either.

I live near Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. The 2/3/4/5 subway stop is excellent, and will take you all over Manhattan in a jiffy, and you're able to find lots of lovely places around it for under that budget. Goodly chunks of Park Slope are also in that price range for a share. Both of those make for a 30-minute subway or bike commute.

You could also get something near the PATH in Jersey City or Hoboken, which seem like they have enough going on in my brief visits.

West Harlem and Washington Heights actually can be within half an hour of Hudson Square at rush hour, as the A train runs express from 125th to 59th St. Riding locals back from a late evening out downtown, or especially in Brooklyn, will take forever, though.
posted by akgerber at 10:07 PM on April 29, 2013

I often work at home, but also have an office where you'll be working. I live in Carroll Gardens, a great neighborhood on the F/G line. Taking the F to West 4th Street works perfectly. The walk is short and easy. If the weather's really terrible, you can easily transfer to the C. Conversely, if the weather's really great, I can also bike to work. I know people in my neighborhood with studios in your price range, and you can definitely get a room in a share. Likewise for other nice areas on the F line, like Park Slope (slightly farther away, but really not a bad commute). Personally, I much prefer living in Brooklyn to Manhattan.
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:48 AM on April 30, 2013

« Older Mosquito death trap   |   how to react to a creepy anonymous voice mail? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.