Eight Things to Consider When Looking for An Apartment in Brooklyn
- Transportation. Brooklyn is, of course, well served by subways. Still, there's a big difference between a five and a fifteen minute walk to the train for that Monday morning commute. An important question when looking for an apartment will be access to transportation.
- Schools. Another question for families, or those hoping to start families, will be school districts.
- Amenities. Some people can't live without being near a park, or at least a dog run. Consider Park Slope, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Bay Ridge, and Marine Park or Fort Greene for access to a park. If you're a boating person, look in Mill Basin. If you want to be near the beach, head to Marine Park, which isn't far from the great public beach of Riis Park in Queens. If you crave blini and twilight strolls on an Atlantic Ocean boardwalk, look in Russian Brighton Beach.
- Local Culture. Local culture varies, and it's worth checking out. One is likely to find more bars with live indie music in Williamsburg than in Sunset Park, and more authentic Chinese restaurants and shopping in Sunset Park than in Mill Basin. Progressive park Slope has long been known as child-centric and a gay-friendly neighborhood; Dyker Heights may be equally the former, but not necessarily the latter.
Most Brooklyn neighborhoods have a local movie house (but not all are within walking distance). Some areas have free outdoor summer movies. A few have active community theater.
The Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are both in Prospect Heights abutting Crown Heights, and are close to Park Slope. The Brooklyn Academy of Music and new theater district in Fort Greene is within walking distance to many neighborhoods, from Brooklyn Heights to Park Slope, and by subway from everywhere.
- Local Religious Life. Brooklyn, once famous for its many beautiful church spires, has Christian faith institutions of various denominations aplenty, as well as synagogues, mosques, Buddhist temples and interfaith, non-denominational organizations. If one needs kosher food, then the preponderance of kosher restaurants and butchers are in Crown Heights, Borough Park, and the Hasidic section of Williamsburg. Halal butchers are most likely to be found on Coney Island Avenue.
- Neighborhood Shopping. Brooklyn boasts a few mid-range malls, and a ton of mom-and-pop shops that service local neighborhoods. Some local shops, as on Smith Street in gentrified Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, tend toward cute, pricey, and trendy. Other small businesses for instance, on Coney Island Avenue, will more likely be run by immigrants and will sell practical items for daily life. Midwood is filled with small clothing, food and housewares shops. If Red Hook appeals, then consider that this neighborhood has some galleries but a limited array of small-store retail shops, though it does boast a huge food store, Fairway, and IKEA.
- Parking. Do you need a car, or want to keep one? In some areas, for instance, Flatlands, many houses have driveways. You won't, however, find driveways in Brooklyn Heights or DUMBO, where keeping a car probably means paying hundreds of dollars a month extra in garage fees.
- Security and Safety. In general, New York City is quite safe. Some Brooklyn neighborhoods, and areas within neighborhoods, are better lit, more densely populated, and generally more or less dicey than others. Where there are obvious gaps in income and poverty coexists with gentrification, crime can be an issue. Certain neigbhborhoods with high poverty rates, such as East New York, surface in media reports about crime, as well.
If your lifestyle involves coming home at 3 A.M. regularly by public transportation, neighborhood safety may be an issue to thoroughly investigate before renting an apartment. People with concerns about about crime might call the local police precinct and ask to speak with the community affairs officer. Or, check the data on New York City crime statistics.
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