As rents in Williamsburg and Bushwick have become prohibitively expensive, New Yorkers looking for more affordable digs have moved east into Ridgewood (not “Quooklyn”—never, ever “Quooklyn”), a sleepier, more residential neighborhood just beyond the Queens border.
The neighborhood was originally part of the Boswijk (re: Bushwick) Dutch settlement in the 17th century. Now, it’s home to a mix of immigrants from countries all over the world—Eastern Europe, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic, to name a few—along with a slew of artists, musicians, and young professionals priced out of North Brooklyn’s hipper neighborhoods.
“It’s a little more peaceful than Bushwick, for sure, but yet you have a lot of the same cool things that are cool about Bushwick and North Brooklyn,” says Katarina Hybenova, former editor of the popular neighborhood website Bushwick Daily, who moved to Ridgewood with her husband about six years ago. “There are a lot of people who want to create something and are really interesting. That’s important to me, having a very creative community around.”
Though Ridgewood’s had a tough time with transportation of late—blame temporary closures on the M line, along with the upcoming L shutdown—the neighborhood has enough retail, restaurants, bars, and other amenities to keep residents self-contained. When the weather’s good, it’s just a quick bike ride to Bushwick, Williamsburg, Glendale, and other parts of town when the weather’s good. And for fitness enthusiasts, Ridgewood’s kind of a dream, thanks to its proximity to the popular Ridgewood Reservoir.
“It is totally beautiful and super surreal,” Hyebonva says. “You almost feel like you’re not in the city.”
If any of that sounds appealing, read on.
According to Moiz Malik, CFO of real estate company Nooklyn, Ridgewood has an eclectic mix of housing stock, with everything from ground-up new developments to gut-renovated pre-war apartments to standard four- to- six-unit family homes. “Ridgewood is really the offshoot of Bushwick,” sats Malik. “There was so much demand for Bushwick, people started moving into Ridgewood off the J/M/Z line. Prior to that, it was a lot of prewar and rowhomes; now, there’s a lot of development that’s happening.”
New projects include amenity-filled buildings like 8-3 Wyckoff Avenue and luxe prewar conversions like 16-25 Putnam Avenue. But Malik says you can still find more stripped-down apartments if you look for them. “There’s a ton of rent-stabilized apartments in the neighborhood,” Malik says.
Rents here are certainly more reasonable than in Ridgewood’s neighboring North Brooklyn ‘hoods. Per Nooklyn’s data, the average rent for a 1-bed is about $2,000/month, though StreetEasy’s least expensive one-bedroom is advertised for a mere $1,350/month, and only a few apartments advertised even surpass Nooklyns’ average.
Two-bedrooms on StreetEasy range from $1,700/month to $3,200/month, three-bedrooms range from $1,995/month to $3,600/month, and you can find four-bedrooms for $2,600 to $3,600/month.
In addition to the aforementioned Ridgewood Reservoir, which Malik describes as “a hidden gem,” the neighborhood is home to the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, a historic landmark that’s considered the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City. “They have a lot of festivals in the summer, and it’s also very cool as a wedding venue,” Hybenova says.
Other highlights include Topos Bookstore Cafe, a coffee shop the doubles as a used bookstore; a new outpost of the cafe Milk & Pull, which has branches in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy; and the restaurant Norma’s and neighboring wine bar Julia’s, which Malik says draw a healthy mix of old and new Ridgewood residents. “They all come into Norma’s,” he says.
Hybenova points out there’s also a thriving collection of mom-and-pop shops that are more affordable than what you might find a little further west. “That’s another cool thing about Ridgewood—you can find a lot of stuff that you just need,” Hybenova says. “I go to this animal hospital on Fresh Pond that’s really good but much cheaper than a similar place than in Williamsburg.”
Most expensive area
Though rents in new developments are obviously higher than what you’ll find in an older rent-stabilized building, Malik says the closer you get to the Myrtle-Wyckoff L and M station, the higher the prices. “When you’re only off the M train, around Seneca and Forest Avenue, it starts to get much cheaper,” he says.
What to look out for before signing a lease
With the never-ending subway drama, it’s a good idea to keep commute times in mind before committing to a place. “The core is trying to be in a spot in Ridgewood that has both the L and the M, so you have two options for trains,” Malik says. “There’s been a bit of construction with the M train, and as that clears up the L will shut down—having two trains is key.”
If you’re searching for a rental with a backyard, Ridgewood may be the neighborhood for you. “Ridgewood is one of those neighborhoods with really great places with really great backyards,” Hyebonva says. She also suggests looking for flyers advertising available rooms and apartments at local business, since they oftentimes list better deals than one might find on Craigslist or Streeteasy.
62-83 60th Street: A one-bedroom unit in this new development located off the Forest Ave M stop features private outdoor space in addition to a shared roof deck; lots of closet space and hardwood floors; and a laundry room in the building. The rent is $1,846/month.
681 Woodward Avenue: This one-bedroom apartment off the Forest Ave M stop is renting for just under $2,000/month, and comes with its own private balcony. The building has a laundry room, which is an added bonus.
1714 Madison Street: A renovated pre-war two-bedroom, one-bathroom railroad in this walk-up on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border boasts two separate entrances, high tin ceilings, built-in closets and plenty of light. The rent is $2,295/month.
1862 Menahan Street: A newly-renovated three-bedroom apartment located near the Seneca M and Myrtle-Wyckoff L,M stops features stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, high ceilings, and central air-conditioning. The rent is $2,500/month.