If you asked us five years ago how cheap it is to live in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, you’d probably say it is affordable. If you asked us now if you should buy or rent here in Prospect Park, we’d tell you that the stretch of your dollar would not be enough to either rent or buy, and your down payment to buy an apartment will end up killing you.
New York City and its environs are seeing a recent surge of gentrification in the last few years. The Bronx now has skyscrapers. Carroll Gardens and Park Slope and are completely gentrified. As in the past, it’s hard to find an apartment here. This is particularly disheartening to families who thought they could live affordability in Prospect Park because of the good school system.
There are a lot of articles out there about where people under 30 live in New York and its boroughs. That said, here’s our twist on the subject.
Washington Heights, Manhattan
If you were priced out of other areas, you could try living in Washington Heights. Home to a thriving Dominican population, the Heights is not yet completely gentrified, but it does have wide sidewalks and women giving their babies a ride.
The Heights may have been affordable in the last four or five years, but now housing prices have climbed. A couple of years ago, an apartment in the Heights broke a record, which was $2 million or so and more. Ever since then landlords had to raise rents, and small businesses had to move elsewhere. But there are apartments in Washington Heights that allow you to live as if you were in New York, and is now the fastest-growing neighborhood in Manhattan.
For example, a one bedroom costs around $1850, which is a rental with a price tag that seems to be based on studio and one-bedroom apartments in New York. If you’re lucky and have the stamina, you could quickly put a down payment on an apartment in Washington Heights. And if you were really lucky, you might see that your numbers align with New York City, and you may be able to find new places, especially since new skyscrapers and new apartment buildings are under construction.
Nearest subways: The A express train (with stops between 155th and 190th Street)
To live in Chinatown is to live among street vendors, jewelry stores, and gift shops, as well as some of the best restaurants from different continents. The food—from mainland China and Hong Kong, and from Indonesian and Malaysian—is amazing, and so is the proximity to Lower East Side and Little Italy, which keeps merging in Chinatown, perhaps to build new apartments.
The best part of living here is that it seems built for the young. You can ride your bike in the stalled streets where people are trying to get to Holland Tunnel. You can hang your laundry out the window. You can throw string lights in your apartment and dance with your friends to Happy Feet and the Strike. And you can find affordable rent or a one-bedroom.
And Chinatown is great for the adventurous because it is centrally located and has easy access to other neighborhoods such as SoHo, Nolita, and the Lower East Side.
Subway: The B, the D at Grand Street, as well as the N, Q, R and 6 trains at the Canal. It is literally the only area in New York where the East and West Side converge.
There are pockets in Astoria where you can find a one-bedroom for $2,100 with a unit size starting at 600 square feet and up to 700 square feet. In fact, the neighborborhood has a solid stock of three- and four-bedroom shares, which someone looking to live here should explore. And the one-bedroom? You can definitely afford $2,100 if you have your affairs in order.
Astoria is known for its mind-blowing diverse food scene, as well as its easy commute to Manhattan, which appeals to those under 30. There’s Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern food, as well as entertainment. Bars range from the moderately priced mom-and-pop shops to the elegant higher-class lounges. And what would appeal to millennials is arguably the city’s best beer garden.
Subway: N, W, N & W trains stop at multiple stations in the neighborhood, including 36th Ave and Ditmars Blvd.
The South Bronx
An average one bed is only around $1,500 and you get to live not in squalor but in something like real digs. You want hardwood floors, a capacious living room, and high ceiling, well, these are things found in the right apartment, and the right apartment—the one you dream about, the one with a brick feature wall and the open-concept kitchen—will be found and will be definitely available if you look in the right places and inform your realtor your “must have” list.
The South Bronx has tons of new restaurants, coffee shops, and several breweries that we lost track of when counting. It’s been listed as an annual destination spot by the Times, and the environment favors authentic cooking. It’s food scene isn’t just for the snob. Once it open later this year, The South Bronx will have its own food hall. It will join the ranks of other successful food halls around the city, including Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. The 16,000-square-foot warehouse will be converted into a trendy new food building, and we’re hoping to see that it pays homage to the people living here making foods from other countries.
Nearest subways: The 6, 2 & 5, 4, and B & D lines are scattered throughout different neighborhoods in the area.
Williamsburg is growing into two camps, one where millennials are searching for cheaper prices but are looking for a luxury building with a doorman, and amenities like stainless steel appliances, and an open-concept living room. The other camp is looking for an apartment in a townhouse or brick row building for those who like the architecture of old buildings and don’t care if it’s a walk-up. There are many in The South Bronx that are pre-war and all of them have a lot of character.
Since Williamsburg has been up-and-coming, several apartments and skyscrapers are in the area or will be after the finish of construction. The average price for a one bed is $3,130 a month.
North Williamsburg is the cousin of the East Village: the former is hip and trendy and day by day it’s getting gentrified. You would never know its history, that it used to be a working-class neighborhood made up of Jewish, European and Hispanic immigrants. These days, Williamsburg has grown up. It is home to several new developments, including skyscrapers and high rises along the waterfront that will rise along one of the best views in the borough. Companies flock to NW, while those who are barely legal stay near Bedford, the main drag, looking for guys on simmering, sultry nights.
This may bother some, but in the last few years, Williamsburg has welcomed its first Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Apple Store, much to the protests of the residences here.
Nearest subway: L train