We didn’t choose to live in South Brooklyn because it is trendy, but South Brooklyn is definitely having a moment right now. Just last week I saw this headline: “EXCLUSIVE: $15.5M Cobble Hill townhouse sets the record for the most expensive home ever sold in Brooklyn.” (In the NY Daily News.) Recent real estate articles now claim that in some neighborhoods of Brooklyn (particularly Dumbo and Vinegar Hill), home prices and rents equal or surpass those in many sections of Manhattan, but Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill (they are adjacent to and sit just south of Brooklyn Heights) are also considered “hot” neighborhoods. Of course, Brooklyn is just generally “hip” currently. Last fall, Brooklyn was voted the hippest part of NYC, even by Manhattanites. And in the latest Avengers movie, Captain America admits that he still hadn’t found an apartment in Brooklyn, although he is looking.
As I understand it, our corner of Brooklyn was a pretty scary place twenty years ago. Old mafia neighborhood, so women were safer than some other areas (or, so I’ve heard), but Brooklyn was generally pretty rough then. Lots of crime, lots of social problems. You see little evidence of that now. It isn’t zero, of course, as we *do* live in NYC, but generally if you are sensible and smart, the local streets are reasonably safe. There are still some areas to avoid, but I’ve heard that they are not nearly as problematic as they used to be.
We chose our location for the local school, which happens to have a French Dual-Language Program (DLP) through 5th grade. I had researched schools in NYC and I learned that there were only three schools in the NYC public school system that had the French DLP through 5th grade (there were three other programs, but they were more recently started, so only went up to 1st or 3rd grade). Our other two options were Upper West Side and Harlem, and Brooklyn seemed to have the most promise for finding a larger apartment (for six people) with a yard. Of course, there are plenty of private schools in NYC that offer French, but the cost of tuition ($30-40K per child) isn’t doable with four kids unless you are seriously rich.
One thing that I really like about our neighborhood is the *scale*. The buildings are not the towering apartment buildings of Manhattan, but mostly old brownstones between 3 and 4 stories high. It is a much more “human” scale than much of Manhattan. Don’t get me wrong– I really enjoy Manhattan– but if we had moved there, we would only have been able to afford a place in one of the soulless high-rises, a nondescript elevator building standing next to a bunch of similar nondescript elevator buildings. In NYC, particularly in Manhattan, charm is expensive. We have plenty of charm in our area of Brooklyn, and Manly Guy has a very easy commute to lower Manhattan for work (only six subway stops). We can easily enjoy the cultural attractions in Manhattan and still have a more livable lifestyle.
I’m grateful to be here. Living in NYC is pretty awesome, particularly in South Brooklyn.