If you want to look rich without actually being rich, Prospect Heights in Brooklyn is the spot for you. A study conducted by the Media Lab at MIT found that people thought Prospect Heights, with its ample trees and pretty brownstones, looked the richest. Rents in the neighborhood are comparatively affordable, with the average two-bedroom renting for $1,675, according to “New York Magazine”.
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The drawback of life in Prospect Heights is that plenty of apartments feature a railroad layout, meaning if you share the space with roommates, you might have to walk through their bedrooms to get to your own. Look for a place with two entrances, if possible, to reduce the chance of any privacy gaffes.
Williamsburg is the neighborhood to live in if you want easy access to Manhattan via subway (there are several “L” train stops in the ‘hood), plenty of cute boutiques and a feeling that you’re in the midst of it all. You’ll pay more for rent in Williamsburg than you would in Prospect Heights, with median rents creeping closer to Manhattan levels.
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A convertible live-work studio or loft might be your best option if you go the Williamsburg route and are the DIY-type. Look for places offering large lofts in converted warehouses or factories, such as the old pasta factory window design artist Johanna Burke rented, then completely made her own. Buy roller shades online to cover up the large windows often found in lofts. Pick blackout shades for the sleeping area so that the bright lights of the city don’t keep you up all night.
Long Island City
You can get to Manhattan from Long Island City, Queens in less than 15 minutes on the subway. The neighborhood hasn’t quite lost its rough around the edges feel but has been a magnet for artsy types, thanks to the presence of the Museum of Modern Art’s PS 1, an exhibition gallery that focuses on experimental art. Once a booming industrial area without much in the way of residences, most of the housing options you’ll find in Long Island City are in relatively new developments and high rises along the waterfront with great views of Manhattan’s East Side.
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Bay Ridge offers the hipper set a trade off. You can find a two-bedroom apartment for less than $1,300 a month, but you’ll spend all of your life on the R train if you plan on heading to Manhattan or pretty much anywhere else in Brooklyn. The average train ride to Union Square is about 40 minutes. It’s enough to make you start searching for Upper East Side apartments.
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But, Bay Ridge is the ideal spot for renters who want plenty of trees and green space built into their city living. The neighborhood has nearly 7,000 trees, plus bike paths and parks. Since it’s located next to the New York Bay, there’s plenty of opportunity for gazing over the peaceful waters. Bay Ridge is also home to the original (and still open) location of Century 21, a department store known to New Yorkers for its discount fashions.
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By Laurence Rosenberg