One of the best things we did before moving to NYC was to spend a couple of days just pottering around New York on the subway getting a feel for various neighbourhoods. After years of apartment living in Sydney and San Francisco we knew we wanted an actual house. While the large houses and commuter towns of New Jersey are appealing on one sense the ongoing commutes in San Francisco had killed any idea of doing that again.
Like a lot of big cities New York has large amounts of gentrifying neighbourhoods as younger families stay in the city after college or move from Suburban and Country areas to larger metropolis. The areas that still had classic New York Brownstones within affordable reach were all in Brooklyn or Harlem, but Brooklyn has that Mission / Newtown appeal and frankly… I look like I’m from Brooklyn. I fit in. There’s a pile of goths down the corner and a posh coffee place on every street, the steampunk wax moustached barman at our favourite brewpub could have been someone I grew up playing D&D with.
So the Battle for Brooklyn began and while Prospect Park was an initial win, it quickly became apparent that we’d already lost ground to the Yoga and Brunch crowd – Stay at home parents who think nothing of owning a Porsche SUV they drive once a month. I spent months trawling for real estate via Nooklyn and Trulia until a strong pattern emerged. Bed Stuy had all the architectural needs I was chasing but was still gritty enough to keep the prices down and my sense of diversity fulfilled.
One of the core benefits for me was the triangular neighbourhood shape with 3 separate train lines and a network of buses crossing between the subway; two of those lines even go straight to my office making it just about perfect.
We decided to rent for a year while we searched for a house to buy and it was a great choice, we got a real sense of the neighbourhood and the price ranges (read: rapidly increasing). I discovered that Bed Stuy has a great sense of Sesame Street magic . The firemen stand outside the station and cheerfully converse with pedestrians, the police station was filled with chipper officers who grew up nearby, the schools and parks were filled with happy kids and the crossing guard has even been known to sing little ditties to the children on sunny days. After years of San Francisco where social distance is a real thing it was lovely to have neighbours who wanted to know our names and wave as you walk to the station each day.