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Anyone deciding to move to New York City will have many 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 exceeding Manhattan’s average rent.
So, how do you choose between these two prestigious boroughs? That decision will be highly personal for each newcomer based on various factors. Below, we’ve outlined the biggest ones to consider when deciding which borough suits you.
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. It would be best if you chose an area that fits your lifestyle preferences with that in mind.
Generally speaking, Brooklyn neighborhoods tend to have a more open and residential feel. The streets are usually more expansive, 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 contrasts with Manhattan, the city’s beating heart, where the fast pace of life never seems to dwindle. You’ll find most of the city’s cultural institutions, global businesses, and entertainment spots in Manhattan. 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 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 Brooklyn neighborhood will have its feel and offer different housing options, so consider what kind of building you’d like to live in and focus on those areas.
For Manhattan, concentrate on Tribeca and Soho if you’re looking for wide-open spaces and loft residences. If security is essential, you can find many post-war buildings with a concierge 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 many 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 nearly every housing option in Williamsburg, including postwar townhouses, loft conversions, and new luxury developments. You can find a similarly diverse inventory in Greenpoint, but with a quieter, more family-friendly atmosphere. Look south of Prospect Park in Windsor Terrace and Kensington for single-family homes with outdoor space. 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 rely on the city’s vast public transportation system. It’s pretty effective at getting around, but it has limits. Anyone 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. 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. 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 frequent contention between New Yorkers. You can keep yourself updated on any scheduled work and plan your route on the MTA website. You can also research other transportation options online, such as buses, Citi Bike, and ferries.
The Costs of LivingThe Costs of Living
There isn’t that much difference between the two boroughs regarding living expenses. Many Manhattanites who moved to Brooklyn have found that they spend less than before. One explanation 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 makes it a more popular spot for aging millennials and young families.
As for real estate prices, though there is one important one, the average size of apartments tends to be larger in Brooklyn. So, while your rent may remain the same or even go up, you’ll at least have more space.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Whatever choice you make, Brooklyn or Manhattan, either one is a fantastic 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 choose to call home will depend on your priorities 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.