Brooklyn real estate is in the news almost every day. It’s in; it’s out, it’s overpriced, it’s cool, it’s overrated, it’s the place to be…
Then there are the trend pieces coming out of the New York Times, and other outlets, on a regular basis. For example, in 2010, the NYT called Bushwick the coolest pace on Earth, but even with ongoing – and ever-increasing – interest in the neighborhood, in 2016 the NYT declared Bushwick officially over. Bushwick comes to mind because of its meteoric rise from the apex of gang and drug activity to the most desirable – and written about – spot in Brooklyn.
Then there was the story from late 2016 that Brooklyn is the most unaffordable place to live in the U.S.
The attitudes toward Brooklyn, from the vantage point of Manhattan, change daily, but the borough weathers each trend-storm just like the tough Brooklynite it is. Meanwhile, a wide variety of buyers and renters alike continue to explore, fall in love with and settle in Brooklyn.
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Brooklyn is not a monolith. NYC’s largest borough, Brooklyn is comprised of individual neighborhoods, each with unique characteristics and demographics.
When the Dutch settled Brooklyn (then known as Breuckelen) in 1636, the original six towns were Bushwick, Brooklyn, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Utrecht, and Flatbush. These specific “towns” have fanned out to include adjacent neighborhoods with new names. For example, Bushwick often encompasses parts of Bed-Stuy and East Williamsburg while Flatbush has grown to include Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Kensington, and Ditmas Park, where gorgeous Victorian mansions regally reign.
HuffPo published a piece exploring some of Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhoods intended for visitors. But, if you’re investigating Brooklyn real estate, use it as a primer.
All of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are a mix of longtime residents – those who have lived there for generations raising families, operating, or working at, local businesses, and claiming their native Brooklynite status – and folks who’ve moved there in the last 20 or so years. For many longtime residents, English is not their first language, and their sense of family and community has been thrown into chaos by the influx of newer residents. Newer additions to Brooklyn neighborhoods tend to have higher incomes and be entrepreneurs, artists, or business people. Some newbies own their own homes, including apartment buildings, condos, or shares in a co-op while others prefer to rent.
Prospect Park, designed by Vaux and Olmstead, the pair who designed Central Park, is a beautiful and luxurious green space that plays host to musical and other events under the banner of Celebrate Brooklyn! Near to Prospect Park is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum. These two institutions are extraordinary cultural outposts. The Brooklyn Museum, a world-class icon, includes local conversations about gentrification in its programming and hosts outstanding art exhibitions. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is well known for its annual spring Cherry Blossom Festival as well as its spacious grounds.
With the influx of residents with expendable income, the food and drink scenes in many Brooklyn neighborhoods have been dramatically upgraded. New little (and big) spots are popping up all over Brooklyn. New York Eater has a guide to the latest, most celebrated restaurants while Foursquare provides a list of the best coffee shops in the borough.
Are you the Type?
Whether you can live in Brooklyn depends on various factors including the commute to Manhattan for work or a Broadway show; the cost of living (including real estate) and quality of life, and your tolerance for “up-and-coming” status that may last for decades, such as in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which has been “up and coming” for about 20 years.
Other neighborhoods, such as Park Slope and Williamsburg, have already been thoroughly redeveloped, and others, such as Greenpoint, Crown Heights, and parts of Flatbush (Kensington, Ditmas Park), have been on the rise in recent years.
Brooklyn is very culturally diverse, it’s safer than ever, some of the best public schools in NYC are in Brooklyn, and the borough is very family-friendly and community-oriented. Take a ride over one of the three Bridges to Brooklyn to find out if it’s the place for you.