New York Dreams: Brooklyn to Queens

Big news! I have officially signed a lease. Having grown up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, it was very difficult to get up the will to leave the nest and start paying the high price of New York City rent.  However, as a 25-year-old committed to kicking off my career in the City (us jaded New Yorkers always refer to New York City, and sometimes Manhattan, as “the City”), it was time.  Moving to the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan would be expensive, and not a far enough move from my parents’ place to be truly worth it – so the question became: Brooklyn or Queens?

For those of you who don’t know – the city consists of 5 boroughs: Manhattan (you may have heard of it), Brooklyn (creatives and Coney Island), Queens (diversity and film studios), the Bronx (Yankee Stadium, Botanical Gardens), and Staten Island (which doesn’t really count).  My mom grew up in Queens and my dad grew up in Brooklyn, and they got married and moved to Manhattan (the old New York dream). Nowadays, it’s not only (generally) more affordable to live in another borough, but actually desirable – Brooklyn and Queens haven’t become quite as gentrified with big chains as parts of shopping-mall-esque Manhattan, and they have tons of cultural centers, parks, local bars, restaurants, and other establishments that make the boroughs destinations for even the staunchest Manhattanites.

What do you think of when you think of Brooklyn?

bedford brooklyn photo

Photo by Simon Welsh

Artists. Musicians. Artisinal, local, craft cocktails and food.  Brooklyn is to many creative millennials, without a doubt, the coolest place to live in America.  For years, I dreamed of being one of those hipster-denying hipsters, living in one of many awesome Brooklyn neighborhoods home to giant lofts and beautiful brownstones, strange niche bars, thrift stores galore, amazing parks, and delicious if overpriced nosh, not to mention all the cute boys. Brooklyn’s beautiful tree lined streets and quirky haunts are filled with a mix of young, creative, liberal people.  I thought my life would be perfect if ONLY I could live in this perfect, magical borough of happiness.

Things I dream of Doing in Brooklyn – And Somehow Still Haven’t Gotten to:

Despite all these awesome places on my bucket list, I couldn’t find a spot in Brooklyn that was the right blend of fun, safe, convenient, and affordable.  I wanted to live on a block surrounded by not only restaurants, but also big grocery stores, convenience stores, banks, and affordable shopping. Maybe Brooklyn was overrated. Maybe Time Out New York‘s description of millennials like me as “selfish, bratty, instagram-addled Bedford Stop wanna-bes” wasn’t so far off from my Brooklyn fantasy self.  In the end, Brooklyn was out.  Dreams crushed.

How I Decided to move to Astoria, Queens

We Heart 30th Ave

Photo by I ♥ Astoria

After months of apartment searching, when my Astoria dwelling roommate-to-be’s lease was up, I decided to join her in a new apartment right off bustling 30th avenue.  While Brooklyn has it’s awesome mix of high and low, grunge and glamour, hidden gems next to run-down store fronts, my new neighborhood is fully developed, packed with tons of restaurants, stores, cafes, bars, banks, and everything you could even need, while still feeling residential.  It is safer, more active (no lonely streets at night), and more like a neighborhood than some of the streets in Brooklyn, which can be pretty quiet off the main stretches.  What I lose in “cool factor” and artsy music scene, I gain in Greek restaurants, festive lights, a giant 24/hour fresh fruit and vegetable market, and a guitar school just a couple blocks away.  I’m pretty sure Queens is the most diverse place in the world, and Astoria is also one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City – even safer than the Upper East Side where I was raised.

More importantly even than the neighborhood’s values, is my apartment itself. For my rent, I get a Super who lives in the building, a buzzer system, 2 sizable bedrooms, closets, a giant kitchen, and a large living room.  What the apartment lacks in polish, it makes up for in charm.  For an apartment at the same rent in Brooklyn, I was looking at spaces either much smaller, much crappier, or in much less safe areas. In fact, I couldn’t even name a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is quite similar to where we are in Astoria. I am happy with my decision.

Things I am Excited to do in Queens:

  • Drink & Draw and other events at Q.E.D.
  • Stuff my face with Greek food (and every other nationality known to man), and get my Beer Garden fix at Bohemian Hall
  • Finally check out contemporary art museum and summer party spot – MoMA P.S. 1
  • Stalk the sound stages where Orange is the New Black and Sesame Street are filmed

One day, I might still want to live in Brooklyn.  I am still trying to figure out the best way to get to Brooklyn from my new home.  For now though, I am a very happy Queens girl.  Please send me any and all Queens suggestions 🙂