Today's Brooklyn is partying right along with Manhattan, and, many say, is a great place to move. It's a destination point for young, up-and-coming professionals, artsy types and other creative hipsters who don't want to pay $3,000 a month for 600-square-feet in SoHo. The unique architecture and charming qualities of many neighborhoods gives Brooklyn a cozy feel, with all the excitement and options of big city living.
If you're moving to New York City but you're looking for more affordable options than Manhattan, you might consider moving to Brooklyn. Brooklyn offers a nice mix of city living with less people-congestion than New York City—but still be prepared for sticker shock. Locals hail it as being “cheaper than the city,” but, real estate prices aside, the cost of living is not significantly lower.
When you're apartment or house-hunting in Brooklyn, keep a few things in mind. Renters will probably need:
- Excellent credit
- Three months' rent plus broker's fees (another month's rent) to move in
- Negotiation skills—you can negotiate everything from price to backyard use (a Brooklyn bonus is that, unlike Manhattan, there's a good chance you will have a backyard, albeit a small one)
- Some knowledge of various neighborhoods in order to make your apartment search less daunting
Look for a “mom-and-pop” realtor, rather than a large firm, for more personalized service and the scoop on some lesser-known hot properties.
The best time for apartment hunting in Brooklyn, real estate agents say, is spring and summer when more apartments become available. If you're looking to save money, look for one of the many “no fee” apartments advertised: This means you'll forego the broker's fee and save some cash moving to Brooklyn.
What about the physical move? If you're driving, don't plan it during rush hour because, if you're coming from the mainland United States, you'll have to cross at least one bridge (and probably more) to get to Brooklyn. The Whitestone and Throgs' Neck bridges, connecting the Bronx with the Queens, which you go through to get to Brooklyn, get congested during rush hour, and the only other option is going through Manhattan and then crossing into Brooklyn or Queens.
Some homes have driveways where residents can park for free. This makes moving to Brooklyn easier since you'll have a place to park the moving truck, but you may not need a car for day-to-day living in Brooklyn.
When you're moving to Brooklyn, make sure to tell the movers about your building: Is it a walk-up, or are there freight elevators available for moving? Expect most luxury high-rise co-ops and condos to have elevator access, but older buildings may not.
Before moving to Brooklyn, spend a weekend in the city, either staying with friends or at a cozy bed-and-breakfast. You can walk through many of the neighborhoods in an afternoon to get a feel for where you might want to live. Do as the locals do: Shop in the grocery stores, eat in the restaurants and walk through the parks.
With 2.5 million people, Brooklyn is the second most populated of the five New York City boroughs, but it's also the second largest, so it doesn't seem as congested as Manhattan.
Brooklyn was originally founded by the Dutch as six towns located in Kings County; one of the towns was “Brooklyn.” Later, these towns were consolidated to become the City of Brooklyn and, finally, in 1898, Brooklyn became one of the five boroughs of New York City.
The original six towns remain as neighborhoods in Brooklyn—the original town of Brooklyn is now Downtown Brooklyn.
There are nearly 50 different neighborhoods in Brooklyn, each with its own distinct character, demographics and income level. Each of these neighborhoods resides in one of nine geographic regions of the 71-square-mile area. There is some gang activity in Brooklyn; check crime reports before moving to Brooklyn to find an area where you'll feel safe. Some areas are gentrified, some not, and some (like Coney Island) are in the process.
Cost of Living
New York locals hail Brooklyn as being cheaper. Those from other parts of the country may ask, “Cheaper than what?” Well, Manhattan, mostly. How much cheaper?
It's so close that Salary.com doesn't differentiate between Manhattan and Brooklyn, although a comparison for Queens shows that this borough, right next door to Brooklyn, is 12 percent cheaper than New York City, with just a 1 percent drop in salary. The New York Observer reports home prices are about one-third of what equivalent apartments for sale may cost in Manhattan.
Geographically, Brooklyn (like Queens) is part of Long Island, and is separated from Manhattan by the East River. Four thoroughfares connect Brooklyn to Manhattan:
- The Manhattan Bridge
- The Williamsburg Bridge
- The famous Brooklyn Bridge
- The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel
Of these, only the tunnel has a toll.
Hop on the subway, too. The Atlantic Pacific station is the main, central subway station (think of it as the Grand Central Station of Brooklyn) and has access to most subway lines so you can travel the city easily.
Some free parking and metered parking is available on the street, but this quote from a local on a moving forum sums up the challenge of finding parking in at least one of Brooklyn's nicer areas: “Finding a blood marrow donor is easier than finding parking in Park Slope. Unless I had a garage (private or public) to park in, I wouldn't want to subject myself to that search on a regular basis.”
Many locals recommend a ZipCar as a cost-effective option for outings anywhere you can't easily go to by train or subway, or for weekly or monthly treks to big box stores and grocery stores.
If your career is taking you to Manhattan, moving to Brooklyn may be a viable option, especially if you are raising a family. Brooklyn's plethora of public and private school options, including charter schools, as well as many local parks, rich culture and unique architecture—along with its proximity to Manhattan—make it a truly great place to live and work.
“Brooklyn pride” runs strong with the locals, whether they grew up in poorer areas or on the Brownstone streets in Brooklyn's nicer nabes. If you're moving to Brooklyn, you will be changed in a way that's hard to explain for anyone that hasn't yet experienced the city.
Moving to Brooklyn will give you access to some of the most widely read newspaper and entertainment publications on the entire east coast. Here’s a quick review of some of the essential publications and other outlets you’ll find in Brooklyn.
The New York Times
Since its launch in 1851, The New York Times has grown into one of the three most-read newspaper publications in the country. With a staggering 108 Pulitzer Prizes to its credit, The Times is one of the most well respected newspaper publications in the country, fetching 1.5 million readers on weekdays and Saturdays, and over two million readers on Sundays.
In The New York Times, you can expect to find a vast variety of news stories ranging from local to international, in addition to sports, arts and entertainment, citywide events, and weekend standards like comics and crossword puzzles.
AM New York
Offering wide coverage for local news, community events, sports, and business and jobs listings, AM New York is offered free of charge throughout the city of New York and has a circulation upwards of 345,000 readers.
Brooklyn Afro Times
The Brooklyn Afro Times has amassed a readership close to 60,000 since its launch in 1952, and continues in popularity despite the fact that it’s got no online presence other than a Facebook page. The Brooklyn Afro Times is published weekly and is geared toward serving the African-American community and the telling of news stories often ignored by the mainstream media.
The Brooklyn Paper
Delivering Brooklyn-specific news stories to local residents once per week, The Brooklyn Paper boasts a circulation close to 50,000. In addition to local news, it also includes an inserted entertainment guide named GO Brooklyn which features articles and reviews on nearby restaurants, theater, art shows, and book and movie reviews.
Owned by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Tablet has been publishing continuously for over 100 years and has grown its readership to upwards of 75,000 people. Published weekly every Saturday, the Brooklyn Tablet covers local and national news, sports stories, and faith-based opinion columns for Brooklyn’s Catholic population.
Local TV News Channels
Enjoy all four seasons in Brooklyn (and there's always something to do in every season). Locals say Brooklyn parks are much less crowded than Manhattan parks, making for great springs, summers and falls outdoors, with trees displaying a gorgeous array of colorful leaves in the fall.
Expect the breeze in homes and apartments directly on the water to make for cooler temps year-round, but, in most parts of Brooklyn, you'll forget you're on an island at all—except for summertime humidity, which can make 80- to 90-degree temperatures feel much warmer.
As much as the property tax cap is a good thing for New York State homeowners, it's hurting local school districts with funding cuts for activities like sports and music. Fundraisers are becoming more and more common in Brooklyn schools.
When you enroll your children in a school, chances are they will automatically be enrolled in their “catchment” school; that is, the public school serving the area where you moved. You can call (212) 374-5426 to find out zoned catchment schools based on the street in Brooklyn where you're moving. However, if spots are filled, your child may be placed in another school.
When you're choosing the best area for your family to move in Brooklyn, look at the history of the school budget in that area: Has it passed successfully in recent years? On the first try or the second? A failed budget could affect the quality of education your child will get, as less money may be available for classroom necessities. In addition, an “austerity” budget could mean the loss of buses for children living a certain distance from the school.
That's not to say schools in Brooklyn aren't good—many are. If you're not happy with your catchment school, look into lotteries to get your children placed in one of the city’s many charter schools, magnet schools or Gifted & Talented programs, including the Brooklyn Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant or any number of the Achievement First Charter schools across Brooklyn's lower-income areas. The Crown Heights Charter School, a new building as of 2011, offers state-of-the-art audiovisual technology for learning that you wouldn't find in most public schools across the country.
Here are some more useful facts about Brooklyn public schools:
- 300,000 children attend Brooklyn public schools.
- The cut-off date for four- and five-year-olds entering kindergarten in Brooklyn the following school year is in early March. Kindergarten classes may be full-day or half-day, depending on the school.
- Residency must be established before you can enroll your child in school.
- If you move to Brooklyn during the summer, enroll your schoolchildren in August.
Although for years locals and moving companies have been lobbying for the city to offer residential and moving permits to make parking in and moving to Brooklyn easier, such legislation has failed to pass. This prompted one mover to comment in The Brooklyn Paper, “Moving in New York City is almost looked at as an illegal activity,” noting that it's hit-or-miss whether you'll get a parking ticket or not.
The trick to moving to Brooklyn? Have one pal scout ahead, and when you find a legal spot near your new building, that person “camps out” there with lawn furniture until the moving truck pulls in. Keeping one person with the truck at all times can also help prevent parking tickets if you're in doubt. Don't expect to keep the truck there overnight, as it's usually illegal to park a truck overnight on a city street. If you're renting a moving truck, schedule a return for the same day.
There are two local Department of Motor Vehicles offices in Brooklyn: one on Atlantic Ave. and one on Coney Island. If you plan to own a car after moving to Brooklyn, you'll probably want a New York State driver’s license. You'll need to take a written test and also pass a road test. You'll pay a $10 application fee and must surrender your out-of-state license. You have two tries to pass the road test. If you fail, you'll need to pay another $10 for two more tries (until you pass successfully).
You'll need to show proof of residency, so you'll want to wait until you've received utility bills or pay stubs with your new address before you apply for your New York State driver's license. You'll also need your Social Security card and birth certificate.
You can register to vote in New York on your driver's license application, or ask for a voter registration form at your local post office in Brooklyn.
Sales tax in Brooklyn is the same as New York City, 8.875% (when combined with New York State sales tax.) Like New York City, there is no city tax on clothing purchases under $55, and also no New York State tax on clothing purchases under $110.
Property taxes in Brooklyn, just like the rest of the New York Metropolitan area, are high, but if you're just moving to Brooklyn as a homeowner, you can expect some stability in your property tax rates since Governor Andrew Cuomo placed a 2% cap on local property tax increases, with an override provision by local government boards and school district voters.
Additionally, New York City residents, including those in Brooklyn, pay a personal income tax that other New Yorkers do not pay. If you work in Brooklyn but choose to live in the suburbs, such as Long Island, you'll pay this tax, too.
The New York City Department of Sanitation oversees Brooklyn's trash and recycling programs. When you move to Brooklyn, you'll follow the same trash and recycling practices as the rest of New York City, including NYC's Recycle More, Waste Less program.
Here are some facts about New York City recyclables that may come in handy after moving to Brooklyn:
- Approximately one-quarter of New York City's waste is recyclable paper. NYCWasteLess offers tips for reducing the amount of paper you use and throw away.
- You can donate used bicycles to Recycle a Bicycle. Otherwise, recycle items that are at least 50% metal by placing them next to your metal recycling bins, pails or bags.
- Call 311 for recycling of items (like air conditioners and refrigerators) that require CFC removal first.
- Recycle glass bottles and jars and metal cans, plastic bottles and also cartons (such as milk and juice cartons) with metal recyclables.
- Several organizations in Brooklyn accept food scraps for composting.
For easy access to all these government resources, visit the following sites: