Kelly M’s guide to affordable Brooklyn neighborhoods
There are a lot of reasons to take a look at Brooklyn if you’re moving to New York on your own. The commute can be easy if you work downtown, the nightlife is so good you’ll go whole weekends without seeing the city, and Brooklyn has enough character to fit into three normal-sized U.S. cities, not to mention outstanding art museums and galleries that would be a lot more well-known if they weren’t sitting in the shadow of Manhattan. The only problem with Brooklyn is the well-known fact that the best neighborhoods are becoming as pricy as their counterparts on the other side of the East River. For those who are new to the city and done with roommates, here are a few places to check out in Brooklyn where studios can still be found in a price range that doesn’t require a trust fund.
Greenpoint. Brooklyn’s Polish neighborhood to the north of trendy and expensive Williamsburg offers decent prices on apartments that are still within walking distance of the Bedford Avenue bar scene. The biggest downside to Greenpoint is that it’s serviced by the notoriously unreliable and inconvenient G train. This fault can be overcome if you’re lucky enough to find an apartment within a reasonable walking distance to the Bedford Ave. or Lorimer stops on the L train, for emergencies.
Bushwick. Another popular Williamsburg alternative, Bushwick is what all the brokers mean when they say “East Williamsburg.” Once again, the transportation can be spotty—the L train often stops running past Lorimer on nights and weekends, and you have to take a shuttle bus to go any farther. Still, Bushwick is popular with 20-somethings who’ve been priced out of Williamsburg.
Fort Greene/Clinton Hill.This area bordering Bedford-Stuyvesant is home to a lot of picturesque brownstones and the Pratt School of Art. Unfortunately, it suffers from being located off the G train. People who are willing to pay for cabs at night, or people who would rather go to the bar on the corner anyway, might want to check it out.
Crown Heights. Crown Heights sits next to the rich-person enclave of Park Slope, on the other side of the park. The trains are decent, and Prospect Park is one of the nicest parks in the city. Plus, it’s close to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the Brooklyn Museum. The sketchiness of apartments listed as being in “Crown Heights” can vary widely—this is not a neighborhood to move to sight unseen.
Red Hook. This is one of those neighborhoods that will become too expensive pretty soon, so you might want to check it out now. It’s on the waterfront, with lots of old warehouses, some of which are being transformed into galleries. IKEA is moving to Red Hook in the near future, so whether that’s a plus or a minus is up to you.
As a side note, one thing that worries a lot of people who are thinking of moving to the city for the first time is the safety of potential neighborhoods. They should probably be much more concerned about whether or not there’s convenient transportation. (One exception—East New York, which consistently has the highest rate of violent crime in the city.) Pretty much anywhere in the city is safe, but waiting an hour for your train to take you home on a Saturday night is not the best of times. Check out the ratings of the different subway lines here.