The staff were very friendly and helpful. It made the most sense-it was cool, most of my friends were there, it wasn’t too far from the airport, and, well, it was cool. L’épicentre de toutes les choses cool. And I was cool, wasn’t I?
And so I spent several months checking out Brooklyn neighborhoods, one by one. I had spent most of my previous visits to New York staying in Harlem, where my sister has lived for years. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
“There is not enough places to work in the neighborhood,” I would say. “Je travaille en ligne. I’d become a hermit.”
But then one night I went to dinner with my sister at Red Rooster on 125th St. in Harlem. Red Rooster, the recent restaurant by Marcus Samuelsson, has been popular since its opening in 2011.
C’était l’atmosphère qui m’a frappé. The live music, the chic cocktails, the eclectic Southern fusion menu with Scandinavian touches, the fact that in this restaurant was one of the most diverse groups of people I had seen in New York. Everyone was welcome here. It was a long weekend and yet it felt like a party.
I was looking at my sister and smiled. “Je commence à penser que j’étais trop rapide pour écrire hors Harlem.”
A few months after, I was settling into my one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Hamilton Heights, Harlem-something I couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago.
Comprendre Harlem and Brooklyn
Harlem is one of the oldest and most diverse neighbourhoods in the city.
Je vis à Hamilton Heights, qui fait partie de West Harlem. Part of Hamilton Heights overlaps with Sugar Hill, and it borders Manhattanville to the south and Central Harlem to the east. Washington Heights, qui ne fait pas partie de Harlem, est au nord.
The borough of Brooklyn is encore plus énorme et diversifié que Harlem. The neighborhoods I was considering living in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Crown Heights, and Bushwick.
Cela dit, je vais utiliser les Termes “Harlem” et “Brooklyn” throughout this post for simplicity’s sake.
Qu’est-ce que J’aime dans un quartier
In my post-college years, I’ve lived in several different neighborhoods in two major cities, Boston and London, along with some suburban areas. At the end of cela, you will pass the beautiful temps to voyager, where you can visit other villages and relax in the court or long terme for a local experience. In that time, I’ve learned what works for me in a place to live.
Je n’aime pas vivre au cœur du centre-ville. I did that when I lived on the Back Bay / Fenway line in Boston. While there were lots of good things about living downtown, I felt that the residents were an odd mix of the very wealthy (especially men working in finance), college students, and tourists. I preferred the slightly shabbier, more intellectual environments of Cambridge and Somerville.
I like a place with neighborhood pride. The staff were very friendly and helpful. But I also want to live somewhere where people are happy to live and spend their time, not just grumbling about it until they can afford somewhere better.
Le bon transit est une priorité majeure. If there is only one semi-reliable line to my neighborhood, I’m more likely to cocoon and less likely to venture further afield. I like to live somewhere I can get in and out, ideally on a few different transit lines, and somewhere I can get to the airport easily.
Overall, I like a neighborhood that is fun and active but not in the heart of the city. J’ai aimé rester dans les quartiers comme Northcote à Melbourne, Bronte à Sydney, Nimmanhaeman à Chiang Mai, North Beach à San Francisco, et Shepherd’s Bush à Londres.
Checking Out New York Neighborhoods
My next step was to try out lots of different neighborhoods in New York. The nights are a priority for the month, so the quarters can be very different at night.
I had done many stays with my sister in her current apartment in Hamilton Heights and in her last apartment, further south in Harlem, so it was time to check out other regions. I did multi-day stays in the following neighborhoods:
Brooklyn Heights. If I could live anywhere in New York, it would be Brooklyn Heights. The brownstones here are gorgeous and it’s the first neighborhood over from Lower Manhattan. Furthermore, Brooklyn Heights is adjacent to Cobble Hill, which is filled with awesome restaurants and shops, including a Trader Joe’S. Also, everyone seems to have a dog here, including my best friend, who lives there! Cela dit, c’est un quartier très expensive.
Centre-Ville De Brooklyn. I had the best Airbnb here – a studio apartment on top of the Brooklyn Ballet with huge windows overlooking the sunset. (Unfortunately, it’s no longer available for rent.) Downtown Brooklyn n’a pas la beauté des autres quartiers, mais si vous êtes dans la partie sud, c’est très pratique à Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill.
Boerum Colline. Boerum Hill seemed to be the best fit for me-close to Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, and similar in atmosphere and beauty, but further from Manhattan and therefore more affordable. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
Crown Heights. Crown Heights was probably the best “on paper” fit for me — decent rents, not far from most of my Brooklyn friends, on the A train, an easy journey to the airport, and home to the best coffee shop I’ve worked from in New York City (Breukelen Coffee House).
But Crown Heights just didn’t do it for me. While I never felt unsafe there, I never felt comfortable, either; it almost felt like my intuition was screaming at me for three days straight. Je sais mieux que d’ignorer mon intuition. (No offense to my friends who live in and love Crown Heights. I can see why people love living there; it just wasn’t for me.)
Bushwick. Weird as hell. At times, I loved Bushwick madly; at times, I couldn’t stand it. This is the artiest neighborhood in New York. It’s inexpensive and full of cool restaurants, galleries, and coffee shops. They’re all spread out quite a bit through a warehouse-filled district. Ultimately, though, I didn’t feel like I would fit in, and thought Bushwick a fun place to visit rather than a place to live.
Upper West Side / Morningside Heights. I really like this part of the Upper West Side, close to Columbia. I stayed on 109th Saint and loved it. Même si, comme le Chi-chi Brooklyn neighborhoods, il était un peu hors de ma gamme de prix (et pas près d’un train express en particulier le 2 au 96e). That’s what ultimately put me off.
Other neighborhoods were jettisoned for various reasons. Rents were rising at an astronomical rate in Williamsburg. The room was very clean and comfortable. Bed-Stuy n’était pas assez embourbé. And as much as I would enjoy living somewhere like Greenwich Village, it would be a similar atmosphere to my time in Back Bay: lots of extremely wealthy people, lots of NYU students, and the only apartments in my price range would be dreadful.
So after all that, why did I end up in Harlem?
Because I ran the numbers, compared the neighborhoods, and realized that there was far more value in Hamilton Heights than in any of the Brooklyn neighborhoods I looked at.
After travelling full-time for five years, my primary goal was to have a nice place to call my own. The room was clean and comfortable. A place where I could host tons of out-of-town friends. A place I wouldn’t need to share with roommates. The staff were very friendly and helpful.
This is only the beginning.
I’ve only been here a few weeks, in the dreary winter, no less. Only time will tell whether I made the right choice. I will say this, however – I am very optimistic about my future here. Several times a day, my heart feels like it’s exploding with happiness at my new life.
If you’re in a similar position to me and contemplating a move to New York City, know that Brooklyn is not the only acceptable place to live. There are tons of great neighborhoods all over the city and you should not overlook Harlem.
If you’re looking for an apartment with nice amenities-like a renovated apartment or a dishwasher — or you want more square footage, Hamilton Heights should definitely be on your list. If you want to live alone, I’d highly recommend looking here.