The Real.Est List
Alphabet City to Williamsburg: An almost-substitute for the East Village, circa 2006
I moved to the East Village after my senior year of college about six years ago. I chose the East Village because it was a hub for music, media and culture. I was working in the music industry at the time and I fit in well with the scene. Many of my likeminded friends lived there as well.
My apartment, which was located on Second Street and Avenue B, was a 700-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom that had been converted into a three-bedroom apartment.
Two of us had decent size rooms, while our third roommate lived in a glorified closet. Our rent was $3,400 a month and our 64-unit building had a doorman and elevator.
Prior to moving to this apartment, I lived for three years on St. Marks Place; unlike that apartment, this apartment was more appropriate for someone a few years out of college.
In the past few years, it seems like some of the neighboring cultures have inched their way into the East Village.
Quintessential restaurants like the now defunct Kate’s Joint and Mara’s Homemade were edged out by bars like The 13th Step. Where dive bars and grungy music clubs once stood, there are now clubs with velvet ropes.
The East Village has morphed into some blasphemous mixture of Murray Hill, the Financial District and a diluted version of the Meatpacking District.
A few months ago, one of my roommates moved out of our apartment and in with his girlfriend, so the other two of us decided to move as well. We were drawn to Williamsburg because it reminded us of the East Village circa 2006ish.
We moved into a house that is owned by an artist. The building has three units including ours, which rents for $2700-per-month.
We were pleased that we could afford more space with a similar per-person monthly rent. While the architecture is not as pretty as it is in the East Village, the newer buildings provide more space.
We had been looking to move to Williamsburg for the last six months of our lease in the East Village, but the addition of "Bourbon Street-style" frat-cum-bar Billy Hurricane’s was pretty much the final straw that made us pull the trigger.
Williamsburg has its pluses and minuses (though, definitely more pluses than the East Village these days). Williamsburg is a creative place. There are a lot of working artists. I really enjoy the music scene. There are a lot of great venues including the Music Hall of Williamsburg and 285 Kent.
I also enjoy the selection great restaurants and bars, too. Some of my favorite bars include, Spuyten Duyvil and The Bedford.
One thing I’ve noticed is that Williamsburg seems primed for some of the negative changes that caused me to leave the East Village. Bedford Avenue is a mess. It’s just too crowded.
As the neighborhood gets more developed, creative types and the stores, bars and restaurants that cater to them get priced out.
One of the negative things about Williamsburg not being as commercial as the East Village is that shopping can be a little more difficult. For example, once I needed towels, and I literally could not find one place in the neighborhood that sold towels.
In the East Village it seems like I could find everything I I wanted, but in Williamsburg I find myself calling around to get some of the things I need. It’s not a familiar experience.
Williamsburg has become a hot spot and a lot of people are considering a move here, so my advice to those people would be to consider a place by the Lorimer L train (or even Graham) stop rather than by Bedford Avenue.
It's only a 10-minute walk to Bedford Avenue if you’re interested in the shops and nightlife around there. And being a little removed from Bedford means quieter streets, often more space, and the ability to get on the overcrowded L train before it gets super crowded at the Bedford Avenue stop.
Also, when the L breaks down (which it does occasionally), you’re close enough to hop on the JMZ.
Overall, even though I moved to Williamsburg, I still feel a strong tie to the East Village. It has a lot of general and personal history. But moving to Williamsburg was a good choice. It encompasses many the elements I once loved about the East Village, but still has proximity to the East Village when I want to go back.