Gone Are the Days of 820 Fifth Avenue

Apartment hunting is the perfect activity for someone [slightly obsessive] who likes to research, shop, and organize. Since I’ll still be over 5,600 miles away from New York until June 6th, I’ve been doing the only things I can do right now: learning as much as I can about different New York neighborhoods and browsing current apartment listings online to get an idea of what to expect when I can do something. I’ve signed up to receive emails every morning from PadMapper.com, informing me of apartments that fit my requirements (studio for under $1100). These emails are encouraging, if not a little painful because I must kiss each apartment I like good-bye.

Besides getting attached to apartments I can’t have, I’ve also been doing a lot of research for neighborhoods. Unsurprisingly, this has led me to creating a list. I’ve finally been able to narrow it down to six neighborhoods (down from 14!) that I’d consider living in, each reflecting a mélange of influences, such as my own memories from past visits, suggestions and advice from friends, and online descriptions. The current list is as follows:

  1. Fort Greene, Brooklyn: My friend Shani took me here on my first time in Brooklyn, and I immediately fell in love. It was exactly what I thought Brooklyn should be. I had been impressed by its anomalously perfect balance of grit and comfort, home to artists and professionals and everyone in between. Apparently the neighborhood is frequently studied by sociologists, who are just as intrigued as I am by its remarkable racial and economic diversity and integration. With access to most subway lines and located on the northwest portion of Brooklyn, Fort Greene is easily my top choice.
  2. Astoria, Queens: Astoria is an up-and-coming neighborhood, with lots of rentals, waterfront views and parkland, easy access to Manhattan, and, most importantly, a mouthwatering selection of cuisines. Nearly every avenue has managed to develop an array of authentic family businesses, from the Greeks on 31st Street to the Brazilians on 34th Avenue, and national chains are crowded out by local ones. Streets known for specific cultures? That has to be a good sign!
  3. Clinton Hill, Brooklyn: Adjacent to Fort Greene, this tree-lined area prides itself on its brownstone blocks. Hopefully those Pratt kids are going home for the summer and leaving some nice studios for me. It’ll also be nice to be surrounded by an arts community.
  4. Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Yeah, I know. I judged myself for putting Williamsburg on the list, too, but I keep forgetting how large this neighborhood is. It’s not just for hipsters!
  5. Jackson Heights, Queens
  6. Long Island City, Queens

(I’m not as passionate about the last half of my list so I didn’t bother to go into detail.)

In case you didn’t notice, everything on the list is either in Brooklyn or Queens. Gone are the days of 820 Fifth Avenue. That eighth grade dream of mine vanished as soon as I first visited New York years ago, when I realized that stuffy granite wasn’t really my thing. Besides, Brooklyn is the brunt of so many jokes on Gossip Girl (yup, I watch Gossip Girl – non-ironically, even!), how could I not want to live there?

Brooklyn when I went in the winter
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