Anyone who’s decided on moving to New York City will have a host of different questions to settle. One of the most important will be which borough to settle down in? For most newcomers, the two most obvious candidates are Manhattan and Brooklyn. Both are practically synonymous with New York and offer the best opportunities for career advancement and social life. But they’re both also very different in the lifestyles they promote. Previously, the price gap between the two made Brooklyn an obvious choice for those who couldn’t afford a Manhattan apartment. But now, the price gap is much smaller, with some Brooklyn neighborhoods even exceeding the average rent in Manhattan.
So, how do you choose between these two prestigious boroughs? For each newcomer, that decision will be a highly personal one based on a range of factors. Below, we’ve outlined the biggest one’s for you to consider when deciding which borough is right for you.
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What is Your Preferred Lifestyle?What is Your Preferred Lifestyle?
While the subway does make it (relatively) easy to reach most parts of the city, where you live will still largely be where you spend most of your time. With that in mind, you must choose an area that fits your lifestyle preferences.
Generally speaking, Brooklyn neighborhoods tend to have a more open and residential feel to them. The streets are usually wider, and the buildings aren’t as tall as you’d find in Manhattan. The pace of life also tends to be slower, and the sense of community stronger. That’s not to say you can’t find faster-paced areas, like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. But broadly speaking, the vibe is far more relaxed in Brooklyn.
This is in contrast to Manhattan, the beating heart of the city where the fast pace of life never seems to dwindle. Manhattan is where you’ll find most of the city’s cultural institutions, global businesses, and entertainment spots. In terms of things to do and see, nothing beats it. It does have its quieter neighborhoods, like the West Village, Upper East Side, and Washington Heights. But if you’re looking for the New York of TV and movie fame, then Manhattan is where you’ll find it.
What Kind of Building do You Want?What Kind of Building do You Want?
Although you can find pretty much every building type in both boroughs, Manhattan is more known for its skyscrapers and townhouses, while Brooklyn is known for its lofts and brownstones. Each neighborhood will have its own feel and offer different housing options, so think about what kind of building you’d like to live in and focus on those areas.
For Manhattan, if you’re looking for wide-open spaces and loft residences, concentrate on Tribeca and Soho. If security is important to you, you can find lots of post-war buildings with doorman in Midtown East and the Upper West Side. For a taste of prewar charm and comfort, the Upper West Side is the place to be and is known for its mid-rise buildings. In downtown Manhattan, you can find lots of walk-ups and tenant style buildings, especially in Greenwich. Those seeking a home in a modern skyscraper with all the latest luxury amenities should focus on the Financial District.
In Brooklyn, you’ll also find a wide variety of housing options. If it’s tree-lined streets with stately brownstones that you’re after, then check out Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Bed-Stuy. You can find just about every housing option in Williamsburg, including postwar, townhouses, loft conversions, and luxury new developments. You can find a similarly diverse inventory in Greenpoint, but with a quieter, more family-friendly atmosphere. For single-family homes with outdoor space, look south of Prospect Park in Windsor Terrace and Kensington. In downtown Brooklyn, housing inventory is a lot like lower Manhattan. One major advantage of buying in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan is that the property taxes tend to be lower.
What are Your Commuting Needs?What are Your Commuting Needs?
Most New Yorkers don’t own a private vehicle and instead rely on the city’s vast public transportation system. It’s pretty effective at getting around, but it does have its limits. Anyone who’s moving to the city should pay close attention to commute times and subway coverage for the first time. Generally speaking, the further north you go in Manhattan, the less subway coverage you have. The same is true in Brooklyn the further south and east you go.
When looking at apartments, ask about walking distance to the nearest subway line. You can also research other transportation options online, such as the buses, Citi Bike, and ferries. The closer a home is to a subway line, the more expensive it tends to be. Also, when looking at subway maps, remember that the map is not always the territory. Some stations or entire lines can be down due to maintenance. Delays are also pretty common and a frequent bone of contention between New Yorkers. You can keep yourself updated on any scheduled work and plan your route on the MTA website.
The Costs of LivingThe Costs of Living
There really isn’t that much of a difference between the two boroughs in terms of living expenses. That said, many Manhattanites who moved to Brooklyn have found that they spend less than they did before. One explanation for this is that there’s an almost constant urge to go out and experience it when you live in Manhattan. With its more laid-back vibe in Brooklyn, there are far fewer incentives to go out all the time. This is what makes it a more popular spot for aging millennials and young families.
As for real estate prices, there’s not much difference either, though there is one important one. In Brooklyn, the average size of apartments tends to be larger. So, while your rent may remain the same or even go up, you’ll at least you’ll have more space.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Whatever choice you make, Brooklyn or Manhattan, either one is an amazing destination to call home. Both are filled with things to do, and you’ll never be more than a subway ride away from either one. Which one you chose to call home will depend on what your priorities are in life right now. What are your career goals? How do you like to spend your free time? What sort of home are you looking for? An experienced real estate agent can help you answer these questions and pinpoint the neighborhoods that might suit you best. Once you know where you might want to live, it’s time to get out there and see these places for yourself.