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A lot of people believe that you have to live in Manhattan for the true New York experience, but I’m here to tell you that living in Brooklyn doesn’t take away from that, at all. You can enjoy relatively affordable rent, amazing vibes, and some peace and quiet in Brooklyn while also feeling you are a true New Yorker.
Hi! Happy you’re here, I’m Cansu and I make videos to help international twenty-somethings like me navigate life in nyc! Before moving here three years ago, my idea of New York meant Manhattan, because that’s what we see on movies and TV shows and even on YouTube. But I’ ve lived in three Brooklyn neighborhoods so far and I absolutely fell in love with the vibes, the people, the shorter buildings that let you see the sky, everything!
If you’re looking to rent a place in Brooklyn, you’d want to check real estate websites (Zillow, StreetEasy) or sublet groups (Facebook Marketplace, Gypsy Housing, Craigslist) for actual rents and costs. Think of this more of a general vibe check, like my guide to what’s cool about the neighborhood and who would like to live there.
And we’re gonna stick to north of Fulton street, because Brooklyn is huge and I don’t know all of it, but these neighborhoods are closer to Manhattan and generally more popular among twenty-somethings.
Ok so, Brooklyn, baby! If Brooklyn was a city it would be the third largest city in the US, so there’s a lot of people and they give each neighborhood a distinct vibe. (Population: 2.577 million in 2020!)
Starting off with Williamsburg! What’s cool about it, is everything. Williamsburg is hip, lively, super trendy. You’d find awesome coffeeshops, restaurants, bars, vintage stores, you name it. You’d see people walking around as if they’re Phresh Out The Runway. On the weekends everyone comes here from the city because it’s where you wanna hang out with people.
I think anyone would want to live in Williamsburg because it’s the best neighborhood in nyc. I’m half joking but Williamsburg is especially for those who enjoy going out, being social, being at the heart of the city and have the budget for it because it’s not cheap living here.
But Williamsburg is a huge area, and as you get closer to East Williamsburg, it becomes more residential and chill, and equally lovely. Younger people, artists, and students mostly choose to live around here because it’s more affordable than Williamsburg Williamsburg but also full of amazing bars and restaurants.
And South Williamsburg is whole another story. It’s a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, meaning that the schools, stores, restaurants, everything is all by and for Orthodox Jewish people. They stick to their laws and traditions, and they keep a distance from mainstream society.
And because of this, they tend to live a separate life, so if you’re not a part of this community, I don’t think you live here. Or maybe you do, I mean probably some people do- guys this is a general vibe check!!
But whether you live in Williamsburg or not, one of my favorite things to do here, and you should do too, is to come to Domino park and enjoy the view. I love seeing the Manhattan skyline way more than living in it!
Moving on with Bedstuy! The full name is Bedford-Stuyvesant, but everyone calls it Bedstuy. The neighborhood is filled with beautiful townhouses and Southern comfort food and cozy bars with live music, and it’s way more residential and quiet than Williamsburg.
What’s cool about Bedstuy is that Jay Z is from here!! This is where you see the black community and culture dominant in the bars, vibes, even murals. Plus it’s very neighborly, you’d get to know your neighbors and smile at each other when passing by, which isn’t generally something people do in Manhattan or Williamsburg. You’d acknowledge each other, check each other out, see what shoes they wore with that jacket but you wouldn’t smile or wish them a good day. You do, in Bedstuy.
You’d wanna live here if you enjoy more of a residential neighborhood where you wouldn’t mind the commute to get to the more popular places in the city. Plus the rents are generally more affordable. If you like getting to know your neighbors, and would enjoy some peace and quiet, Bedstuy is the place.
And those of you who moved to nyc to escape that peace and quiet, I welcome you to Bushwick!
One word: Loud. Bushwick is like a city of its own, one that never sleeps either. Bedstuy sleeps, Bushwick doesn’t. It’s always vibrant and lively and loud.
There’s a dominant Latin community in Bushwick; which, to me, means BBQ and block parties- every single day, and people in their 50s playing board games on the streets (adorable), and the best of the best Mexican food. It reminds me of a little summer town, where there’s less traffic lights and more catcalling.
Bushwick became the hip neighborhood among artists and students after Williamsburg got very expensive. There’s a lot of new-ish popular restaurants, bars, and clubs. Also, the murals are a little psychedelic here, they’re so beautiful. And lot of rave and techno events are also happening around Bushwick.
So you’d wanna live in Bushwick if you like the sound of those and if you live on a lower budget. There’s more quiet parts of it too, of course, but I think you should generally enjoy being in a vibrant neighborhood if you’re moving to Bushwick, because it is loud. Like, all the time.
Next up: Greenpoint! What’s cool about Greenpoint is that Justin Bieber lives here!! Do I have to say anything else?
If I do, you got McCarren park on the south end, which is a lovely park to sit and chill or watch people jogging or playing soccer. There’s a lot of cool bars and live music venues in the neighborhood, but it’s also super chill.
Greenpoint is absolutely beautiful and cool with artist studios in old warehouses and art galleries. There’s a big Polish-American community, which means awesome Polish bakeries and restaurants. There are luxury high rise buildings on the waterfront with the Manhattan skyline view as well as cute townhouses. You have pretty much everything in Greenpoint!
You’d love to live here if you can afford it! No but I think Greenpoint is ideal for maybe young families, or those who make decent money and would love hanging out in Williamsburg but would also like to live in a less popular/more residential neighborhood.
Fort Greene/Clinton Hill
Moving on with Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, these are two different neighborhoods next to each other, but they give me very similar vibes. They are both very chill and residential for the most part, but Fort Greene is more vibrant and expensive than Clinton Hill.
Think of tree-lined streets and gorgeous brownstones, indie shops, a huge park, farmer’s market every Saturday, amazing restaurants and brunch places; that’s Fort Greene. Think of being right next to all these but not being in the middle, that’s Clinton Hill.
So if you like the sound of all that and have a bigger budget, Fort Greene is the place. Otherwise, Clinton Hill is very cute too; it has a more artsy and academic vibe because the Pratt Institute is here.
Dumbo must be the most touristic part of Brooklyn, you must have seen at least one picture of someone with the Manhattan Bridge at the back, if you didn’t take one yourself. So here you have the Manhattan view, the photo spot, and a park, and that’s probably it. Dumbo is also one of the most expensive parts of Brooklyn but I wouldn’t worry about it because I seriously don’t know anyone who lives here. You just visit Dumbo and come back home lol.
Moving on with Brooklyn Heights! In my head, this is grown-up Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights is very posh, residential, beautiful brownstones, views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, but not much else going on for young people. It’s more for families with higher income, I’d say.
Lastly, Downtown Brooklyn is another story, it’s like a business district, but also with chain stores and discount shops and every single subway line meets here, I mean it’s downtown.
But lately, especially after covid, a lot of young expats and students started moving here because they built these huge high rise buildings that offer kind of a luxury lifestyle with doorman and stuff, and these apartments are way more affordable when compared to similar places in Manhattan, but I personally feel like they don’t match the Brooklyn vibe.
But what do I know? Tell me which vibe matches you!