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Places to live in Brooklyn?

(108 Posts)
Acrossthesea Mon 22-Jan-18 08:57:06

I've got a thread here from last year saying that my DH was offered a transfer to the NYC office with his work. It took a while but we are almost done negotiating the contract & package. It's not as generous as it used to be, they won't now pay for brokers fees but we are overall happy with it.

We've decided against living in Manhattan, our friends think I'll hate it. I've never been to NY so have no idea. We don't have time for a before trip. We've started looking at Brooklyn, maybe Williamsburg, but any other areas we should look at, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights? DH will work in Bryant Park. We are looking for a Clapham feel to an area, no DCs but we are planning for it in the next years.

misssmilla1 Mon 22-Jan-18 17:17:57

I've lived in Park slope, Brooklyn Heights and Carroll Gardens. There's pros and cons to all of them - the biggest decision maker for me would be transport and where you need to get to for work on which subway. Rents are pretty insane in all of them so I'll shelve any comments on that!

Brooklyn Heights - very nice old area with lots of residential, however there's not a ton of restaurants / bars there so it can feel quite limiting unless you head to dumbo or downtown manhattan. The new riverside park and all the sports fields and bbqs etc are a great add, but it does get very busy in the summer. Watch out round here for flooding towards the water - we were on top of a hill so escaped the worst of Sandy, but lots of business and houses were very badly damaged by the flood tides.

Park Slope; nicknamed nappy valley. Its FULL of people with kids which has its pros and cons. Used to have lots of independent restaurants, bars and shops, but when we moved out (18 months ago) lease prices were being hiked up so lots of independent places were going bust. Obviously you're near the park, and the museum and botanical garden (depending which end you're in) The limitation imo is transport - If you live on one side of the slope you only really have the R line, unless you want a 10-15 min walk to atlantic avenue. And much like clapham, it is RAMMED as there's now so many residential condo buildings round there

I liked carroll Gardens. Old Italian - American neighborhood, lots of nice bars and restaurants, has a trader joes (cheap grocery store) and depending on which end you end up in decentish subway service.

Acrossthesea Mon 22-Jan-18 17:34:49

Thanks @misssmilla1 that was helpful. Where are you living now? We've had so many conflicting advice/opinions on where to look. I hear the L line is closing next year and we had been looking at Williamsburg but with the line closing we aren't sure if it's worth moving out there to have difficulty moving around.

allfurcoatnoknickers Mon 22-Jan-18 19:23:55

If you like a Clapham feel, skip Williamsburg, it’s more like a more pretentious version of Shoreditch.

I don’t know Brooklyn that well, but can recommend Park Slope. Nice housing stock, families everywhere and tons of nice shops and restaurants.

Why do you/your friends think you’ll hate about Manhattan? You’re likely to run into a lot of the same problems in Brooklyn, so it might help a bit knowing what you don’t like grin

misssmilla1 Mon 22-Jan-18 21:45:58

We're living north of the city in the 'burbs / commuter ville.

Yep, your info on the L shutdown is correct. Even now when its working its at capacity (probably overly so) at rush hour as the amount of residential building in W'burg has overtaken the transport.

If I was renting I'd probably avoid as the line is likely to be out / massively reduced for 12-18 months meaning you're likely to be shoved on the G (local train that meanders across Brooklyn and isn't v reliable) or a bus (nightmare at rush hour as the traffic across the river is insane) or taxi

Do you have the option to move over into a short term (4-8 week) rental and then find a place?

If I was you, I'd try and narrow it down by:
- working out how you need to get to work / the office and which lines run where. DH worked near times square 42nd St- commute on the R from Park slope was often 45-50 mins
- if you're near Atlantic terminal in Bklyn most of the subways run through there - look for the express lines, as this will cut the journey time by 1/3rd - 1/2 as it doesn't stop at all the stations
- how much you want to spend (altho rents are pretty high in most ok parts of Brooklyn)

Tbh, all the areas you've mentioned are 'naice' Brooklyn Heights is a bit elderly imo (or was when we were there) unless you're down towards Dumbo.

I can't recommend enough using google street view for any properties - flagging this as there's an expressway (the BQE) road that basically intersects through Brooklyn and cuts through Brooklyn Heights. We looked at a few properties that basically backed onto, which were not pleasant!

Acrossthesea Mon 22-Jan-18 22:02:03

My friends think I'll hate the noise and general busyness of Manhattan. We live in a well connected transport wise but quiet bit of zone 2 in north London. Tbh I don't any of my friends can quite picture me living in NY at all, which is clouding their opinions a bit.

Acrossthesea Mon 22-Jan-18 22:03:07

We'll have 4 weeks in a hotel when we go over but I'll be on my own by then. I've been trying to narrow down where to even start looking

misssmilla1 Mon 22-Jan-18 22:40:11

I've found most peoples' view of NYC influenced by their short trips here - totally different to living here! Like London it has its pros and cons but I've found the two cities very different in lots of different aspects.

I'd narrow it down to 2-3 areas and start with that. You can't really go wrong with the areas you've mentioned, and tbh that far north in Brooklyn you're v close to lots of things, including Manhattan.

You need to be pretty hard assed with the agents or otherwise they will try and sell you on renting all kinds of shit. Try and decide what you want before you speak to one - do you want to live in a big multi apartment building or a smaller brownstone / walk up type place? Do you want central air con or you ok with window boxes? is a decent sized kitchen important to you? do you need a washing machine etc etc

Going out on a limb here but based on what you've said so far I'd avoid Bushwick (crappy transport, still very up and coming, not great in parts) Gowanus (between park slope and carroll gardens - built on an old polluted canal, near the concrete work and close to the expressway) to the north of the park - so Crown heights (very mixed neighborhood, touted as up and coming, still lots of random violence) Downtown brooklyn (by dekalb ave subway) has a TON of building going on there - the area is still struggling to catch up as a result.

Acrossthesea Tue 23-Jan-18 09:57:47

That's totally true. People have been telling me their favourite haunts from holiday, which is all well and good but being on holiday somewhere is not like living there.

How possible is it too find somewhere and have keys in 30 days? That's how long the company are giving us in a hotel.

misssmilla1 Tue 23-Jan-18 13:15:34

I'd just smile and nod (and be prepared for an influx of visitors!)

I won't lie, it's difficult. It took me 6 weeks to get a place - 2 weeks to find it but I had to wait for the tenants to move out at the end of their lease. I was in a corporate apartment for 4 weeks and then work paid for a hotel apartment thing for 10 days for me - I would have much preferred an air bnb but they wouldn't do that. I would have this as an option in your back pocket in case you have a gap.

To get as ready as possible before you come so you can hit the ground running for viewings, I would:
- get ALL your documents in order for renting - so written references, credit / bank history
- get all your cash where it needs to be for deposits, security etc
- contact some of the big agencies - Sothebys and Corcoran both deal quite regularly with overseas renters so aren't phased by lack of credit history etc - and explain your position and that you want to set up viewings. I found once I had a hard date that I would be in the country, then they'd set up appointments, before then they weren't that interested.

frozenlake Wed 24-Jan-18 02:18:38

Don't know anything about New York but moved from lovely northern countryside home into townhouse in Chicago and I really love it. I love the buzz, the restaurants, the skyline, so much stuff being close. So don't rule out a new way of living just because it isn't the life you were living before. Getting to try the new is a positive of all of the hassle you are going to have.

Plumsofwrath Wed 24-Jan-18 02:48:02

Personally, I think it’s unwise to try to recreate abroad what you have at home. It never works 100%, and hinders your acclimatisation.

If you’re child-free, I wouldn’t rule out the entirety of Manhattan! There are some very lovely, non-noisy, tourist-free parts. It depends on your budget.

The two neighborhoods you’ve mentioned in Brooklyn are really only worth paying for if you have children to educate/ send to pre-school. I’d keep them in mind for your next move (it’s highly unlikely that the place you find within your first few weeks in the country is the one that will see you through having and educating your children). Williamsburg is a bit dull I think, whatever hip vibe it had has been gentrified away. For now, depending on your budget, I’d consider the Lower East Side, Upper West Side (v Clapham), pockets of Harlem (more of a Brixton feel), west village, Battery Park, Tribeca. In Brooklyn, Dumbo will drive you mad with its incessant noise, but you could try Bed Stuy, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene (uber Clapham), and actually Gowanus. Yes the canal is a super-polluted site (!), but nobody is forcing you to swim in it. I really like it round there - and there’s a Whole Foods so it can’t be all bad smile

Plumsofwrath Wed 24-Jan-18 02:53:12

If you’re willing to say what your budget is, it’s be a lot easier to give you helpful pointers.

Teapot13 Wed 24-Jan-18 03:02:42

Don't discount Jersey City. It's like Brooklyn in many ways, just on the other side of Manhattan. We live on a quiet street, views of lower Manhattan from the roof, 10-minute train ride to WTC. Jersey City has some nice areas, very up-and-coming, and your money will go twice as far. We were priced out of Brooklyn -- we wanted to buy but didn't want a massive mortgage.

Teapot13 Wed 24-Jan-18 03:03:14

Oh, and after London both Brooklyn and Jersey City seemed extremely gritty to us!

Want2bSupermum Wed 24-Jan-18 03:18:51

We are in Hoboken. It works very well for Bryant park. It's quite green and much cheaper than manhattan and Brooklyn. Renting is also much easier here in terms of LLs being open to foreigners and it's normally a 1month broker fee. We have rent control here for the older buildings and it's worth paying the broker fee for that alone. The fee free rental buildings can increase your rent pretty much whatever they want. A basic 2bed unit in ok shape starts at about $2800. Nicer places start at $3200+. Rent increases in these units are set by town hall and are CPI so run at about 1%. The no fee units are smaller sizes and rent starts at $3900+ and you can expect a $400 or so increase after a year.

Personally I'd never live in jersey city. It's a huge area with only one small section that is nice. Hoboken has its diversity in terms of housing and inhabitants. It also has a good amount of open space. Just to warn you Hoboken floods in storms. You are fine renting but if renting a unit on a lower floor don't go further back than Garden Street below 9th. You will have no flooding issues between Bloomfield, Washington, Hudson and the waterfront roads and anything above 11th St or higher than the 2nd floor!

misssmilla1 Wed 24-Jan-18 17:44:43

Hmm, I wouldn't live in Bed Stuy tbh if you want a clapham vibe. Fort greene is nice but transport is crappy as you have two local lines (C and the G) unless you walk to atlantic avenue.

And yes, you won't swim in the canal in Gowanus, but its proven that the effluent etc is in the soil, plus they had major issues when we lived there with flooding and it backing up into the condo buildings. There's also a concrete works there which is another major pollutant Whole Foods is there because they got major incentives to build there! That aside the reason I wouldn't live there is because its a black hole for transport - depending on where you are its a ~15 min walk to the nearest subway (call me lazy but when its -15C outside it feels like forever!)

Acrossthesea Wed 24-Jan-18 20:33:39

@misssmilla1 that's super helpful! These all the things which are so hard to tell on a map/looking online. I've used Clapham as a short hand for a safe area with good restaurants and 'community' things.

I think I'll probably look at some places in Manhattan as well to satisfy my curiosity. We have a healthy budget (3-5k) for renting somewhere and we need a large(ish) two bed with preferably two bathrooms.

The broker fee is one thing that we are finding difficult to understand because a % of the annual rent is can be so much. We've asked for his company to pay it as they've done in the past for others.

misssmilla1 Wed 24-Jan-18 21:56:26

I would definitely look in Manhattan too to get a comparison. At one point it was more expensive than Brooklyn but 12 months ago they were on a par with each other.

If I could afford it, I'd look round Tribeca / Greenwich village / parts of soho. Its a really nice vibe, near the water, great restaurants etc. There's a lot of newer big residential apartment buildings in battery park which is downtown towards one side of the financial district - its a bit out on a limb (but near the ferries) BUT if you head to the more north parts of here, you're up against tribeca (see above)

There's some lovely bits of park off here and there's a really long cycle and pedestrian footpath which goes miles all the way up the west side. I have a bit of a blank spot about the east / lower east side as I haven't spent much time there apart from to go specific restaurants and bars

Want2bSupermum Thu 25-Jan-18 00:44:23

Define large 2bed/2bath. A budget of $3-5k fits Hoboken and Jersey City. I don't see you getting anything large, 2/2 or high enough up to have some air in Manhattan.

We are LLs in Hoboken. Large 2/2 units we have are $3400 and $3600 were available for two days with people trying to upbid. Rent max is set by town so we couldn't rent for more. Both have w/d, d/w, are about 1150sqft and the unit that rents for $3600 has access to the yard. Broker fee was one months rent and we require a deposit of 1.5x rent.

Plumsofwrath Thu 25-Jan-18 02:56:02

Hmmm. I think you may have to look harder than you expect to get a large 2 bed/2 bath for $5k/mo in a Clapham-type neighborhood in Manhattan or the parts of Brooklyn you’ve named. It’ll exist, just not in abundant supply. Also not likely to be a new (read clean, modern, a/c, w/d) apt.

I think you should prepare yourself to compromise on space or location. Make sure you see loads and loads of places before you sign. Things can move fast in your price range, but the supply of 2 beds is high. If you don’t need amenities (gym, doorman, roof terrace etc), tell your broker up front. Don’t waste time looking at places where you’ll be paying for things you won’t use.

It sucks. This city is ridiculously expensive.

allfurcoatnoknickers Thu 25-Jan-18 12:05:41

You could get a large, modern 2 bed 2 bath for that much in Long Island City in one of the amenity stuffed new-builds. Good transport links, decent bars and restaurants, rubbish shopping though, but only one stop to Midtown on the yellow line.

I used to commute from Queensboro Plaza to Bryant Park and it took about 30 minutes from walking out of my apartment to sitting at my desk.

The neighbourhood is a bit lacking in charm though...

Here’s a couple of examples of what you could get:

I don’t think you’re going to get a big 2 bed in most of Manhattan for that money. My nice, but nothing spectacular 1 bed 1.5 bath in Chelsea was renting for 5k per month before we bought it! shock

allfurcoatnoknickers Thu 25-Jan-18 12:40:59

...That being said, here’s some nice places in Morningside Heights, right by Columbia University. Probably 45 minutes tops to Bryant Park.

I don’t know Hoboken or Brooklyn well enough to offer any good advice, but the site I’ve used to look up rentals - streeteasy is a great place to get a sense of what you can afford.

misssmilla1 Thu 25-Jan-18 17:48:04

I'm going to be contrary grin and say you could get a 2 bed 2 bath in the parts of Brooklyn for within budget, but it'll be the high end of 4-5K (still insane I know) There's been a TON of new condo big buildings go up which means there's lots more stuff on the market - I know in park slope we saw 6 separate 10 storey buildings go up in 1 year, and downtown brooklyn just keeps expanding.

Also worth looking at the adverts for square footage - for a two bed, anything less than ~900 square feet is not going to be very big. And watch out for manhattan apartment kitchens - in some places they can basically be a sink, small worktop, fridge and microwave

allfurcoatnoknickers Thu 25-Jan-18 18:27:49

@misssmilla1 cursory lunch break streeteasy search shows 19 2 bed, 2 bath apartments in Park slope for under $5000. Plenty of pickings for the OP!

There’s even one with a fuck off massive private terrace shock

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