Advice on NYC neighborhoods, for Aussie in Tokyo, moving to New York
March 1, 2006 5:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm relocating to NYC from Tokyo next month and am looking for some advice on prospective neighborhoods

After 7 years in a tiny Tokyo apartment I'd like something with a bit of space, which rules Manhattan out I think. I'm looking for a 2 bedroom for around $1300-1600. I've checked out a lot of earlier posts and heard good things about Astoria. A friend has recommended Prospect Heights too, and after a look on craigslist it seems there is plenty in my price range. Does anybody have any insights on the relative merits of these areas, or have another neighborhood to recommend? I will be working around Times Square and would like to keep the commute to 30 min if possible. And finally as a related question, I am a little confused about US taxes. After federal and state taxes and then social security, what percent of my salary should I expect to have left, assuming pay of something like 80k?
posted by aussie_in_NY to Work & Money (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
As for neighborhoods, I have been living in Jersey City for a year, and like it a lot. I use the PATH to get into town, which is basically just another subway system, and it gets me to WTC in 6 minutes, and Penn Station in 20. I have a 2 bedroom duplex with a backyard and porch and spend $1550 a month. The neighborhood is nice, good restaurants, and I'd pay at least $500 more if I looked to live in Brooklyn for what I have.

I commute to Times Square area, and it takes me about 35 minutes.
posted by adampsyche at 6:11 AM on March 1, 2006

Plenty of salary calculators out there. Note you'll be paying the NYC tax if you live in the city.

As for neighborhoods - read the Village Voice online to get an idea. Study the subway map - especially the subways which go through Times Square. Commute = time spent walking to your subway station + time spent riding the subway + time to transfer trains + time spent riding the next subway + time spent walking to your office. It's a simple formula, but since it changes for every single apartment, you have to calculate it yourself. Ride the subway while looking at your watch, time it yourself.

Locations also have to be inspected once you're present. Areas in New York shift from "nice and safe" to "go out only with a bodyguard" within a few blocks. Realtors often lie, and claim that properties in bad areas are in a nearby good area.

Never pay any sort of fee for puttiing in an application for an apartment. Just walk away if asked to do so. Brokers may want a fee of one or even two month's rent when signing a lease; I personally would also avoid any such broker's fee apartments, but opinions differ on that. Do be sure to mentally add the fee into the rent: a $1500 apartment with a two months' broker's fee is really a $1750/month apartment, are you sure you still want it at that price? Is it worth $1750?

Rent-stabilized means the rent can only go up a small percent per year. Free market is just that, they could raise the rent 800% when it comes time to renew your lease. You can't rent a rent-controlled apartment, so ignore that if you read about it.
posted by jellicle at 7:03 AM on March 1, 2006

Well, I'll go ahead and put in the official first vote for Astoria. I've been living here since August, and I really like it. Low key, convenient, fun, and everyone I've met here so far (from people that I hang out with to the old guy at my favorite deli) has been awesome.

If you are going to have a car, parking isn't much of a hassle (I usually get a spot right out front, every now and then I park around the corner. I've parked 1-1.5 blocks away maybe 4 times since I moved here). Of course, I don't live RIGHT NEAR the subway, so I probably have it easier than other people.

Your price range is totally doable in Astoria too - my roommate and I each pay $750, and we have a great 2BR.

I'm not sure how you're looking for apartments, but I found mine on Craigslist. It doesn't sound like you're looking to live with a roommate, but if you are, give yourself a lot of time to interview with potential roommates - it took me about 6 weeks of driving down from Connecticut a few times a week meeting people before I really meshed with anyone. Since Astoria is becoming increasingly popular, I found that everyone I was meeting was also meeting with 10-15 other people.

Also, all the Astoria subways (N/W, or the R) go directly to Times Square - no transfers! I come from the very last stop on the N/W (Ditmars), and while I've never timed it, I'd say it takes just about a half hour to get to Times Square. Oh, also, don't rule out living near the last stop - there's always a seat on the subway for me, even if it's the height of rush hour :)
posted by AlisonM at 7:05 AM on March 1, 2006

I live in Astoria and really like it. I moved here from Atlanta in 2002 and have lived in two different apartments here. Right now I've got a pretty big one-bedroom for $1200, so I'd think that a 2-bedroom for your price range is very do-able.

Astoria has lots of good restaurants, green space, a decent commute to Manhattan, lots of local ethnic flavor (primarily Greek/Italian, but there are lots of other groups), a varied mix of bars, etc.

Anything specific you want to know about the neighborhood? I can also point you to some photo galleries if you want to take a look around.
posted by Vidiot at 7:08 AM on March 1, 2006

You can use to check approximate travel times between addresses on public transportation. I use it all day.
posted by adampsyche at 7:22 AM on March 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks guys. Astoria does sound like a pretty good option. And yes Vidiot, if there are any photo galleries you can recommend that would be great.
posted by aussie_in_NY at 7:42 AM on March 1, 2006

This question has been asked before, with plenty of good advice.
posted by mkultra at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2006

Here you go. (And here's "the big map.")

I live just off 30th Avenue, three minutes from the N, and it's great.
posted by Vidiot at 8:06 AM on March 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's another neighborhood just south of Astoria called Sunnyside, that I like quite a lot. My wife and I lived there for a couple of years and we're considering moving back.

It should fit within your price range and the 7 train is a very convenient way to get into the city.
posted by bshort at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2006

I am looking to move to NYC once i get better. (hopefully in a year or so)

Found this site from another askme on Living on NYC. It's great cause it has photos of all the diffrent areas. And gives you a sense or where a place is that is listed on craigslist.
posted by Dreamghost at 8:13 AM on March 1, 2006

Oops should of previewed vidiot beat me to it... DOH!
posted by Dreamghost at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2006

i have access to a new york city salary calculator through my payroll provider. if you are single and declare one dependent on your W-4 (that is what most single employees declare), you will take home approximately $51,320. that includes the NYC resident tax, fed, state, social security, medicare, etc.
posted by lyonsmy at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2006

The commute from Prospect Heights will be significantly more than 30 minutes unless possibly you find someplace close to the 2, 3, B or Q trains. I live just north of there on the C train and it takes me 40-45 minutes to get to Times Square. Bleah.

Also Prospect Heights, while gentrifying, is still pretty sketchy.

I agree with lyonsmy. Count on about $1000/week after taxes.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:00 PM on March 1, 2006

I live in prospect heights. Each neighborhood in the city has its benefits and drawbacks, so I won't tell you where to live, but I really like it here, and my commute is 30 minutes to Union Square and 45 minutes to Times Square, via the 2/3 trains.

You should check out, a group of forums for Brooklyn communities. That might give you an idea of what to expect if you were to move to Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Ft. Greene, Crown Heights, or "BoCoCa" (?).

I wonder if other neighborhoods have such an online presence?
posted by billtron at 8:27 AM on March 2, 2006

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