In this installment of the Renters' Diaries, a renter leaves Williamsburg for Crown Heights, finding more space and privacy.
Before my recent move to Crown Heights, I had lived in or around Williamsburg for the previous four years. Initially, I paid $750 for a windowless room in an old railroad apartment with dirty wood floors and no cooking gas. My roommates and their friends would often pass through my bedroom to access the common area and the kitchen. The apartment was cluttered, but with a strong desire to live in the area, I stayed, using words like "small but charming" to describe our dusty, little space. Six months later, I realized I couldn't afford the neighborhood, so I decided to use Craigslist to find a less expensive room with more privacy in Ridgewood, Queens.
I found a room right away for $450. It was one of the largest bedrooms I've ever lived in. It had bay windows, tons of natural light, plus a very nice landlord; I stayed there for over two years. In that time, my job changed, my salary grew, and I found myself missing the convenience of trendy corner bars and expensive coffees. So, I found a roommate (because my salary hadn't grown enough to live alone), and I went back to Williamsburg.
It was surprising to see the changes that had taken place. Obviously, Williamsburg had undergone a huge transformation far before I moved to New York City, but in the time I had lived in Ridgewood, it seemed that juice bars had taken over coffee shops and everything was twice as expensive. I went from a 250-square-foot bedroom with a private entrance back to a railroad and a windowless room. My share of the rent was close to $1,400. So, when my lease was up in October, I knew I didn't want to stay in Williamsburg.
I thought about finding a one-bedroom in Ridgewood and looked at a few. They were big, bright, and around the same price I was paying for my small room with a lofted bed off the Bedford L stop, but I wanted something different. One day while browsing StreetEasy, I decided to do a search in Crown Heights. I was unfamiliar with the neighborhood and though friends had suggested it, I hadn't considered looking here. Nonetheless, I decided to make a few appointments and came one day after work to check it out. Stepping off the train at Franklin Avenue in early fall was so refreshing! Eastern Parkway's trees were still full and the energy of the new season had everyone buzzing. I loved it right away and almost took the first apartment I looked at, but decided to wait and see a little more of the neighborhood before making a decision.
A few weeks later, I found the place I'm now living in, a rent stabilized, fully renovated one bedroom that's well over 1,000-square-feet. My apartment has a foyer, a separate eat-in kitchen (with a dishwasher), large bathroom with a tub, giant windows, and a big living room. My rent is $1,550, heat and hot water included. I love the neighborhood, but there are two drawbacks: my walk to the subway, which is about seven minutes and my commute to work which is about 40 minutes to Midtown. But with Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, and the library, along with great restaurants, bars, and cafes, all within walking distance, those few extra minutes in the morning and evening are worth it.
· All Renter Reports [Curbed]
· Renters Week 2013 [Curbed]