My first New York apartment was in Chelsea, an area that is perfect for 20-somethings like me. The streets were crowded 24/7, the restaurants, the bars, the nightlife was all made-to-order. That's the good news.
The bad news? The rent. I was paying: $2,000 for a 330-square-foot studio apartment with a mini-fridge and stove and a bathroom with a piece cut out of the door so that it was possible to fit the toilet in and still close the door.
It was an elevator building, had a doorman, a nice roof top area and a gym that was added about a month before I left. Built in 1927, right next to the Chelsea Hotel, it was designed by well-known architect Emery Roth. All good, but the rent plus the cost of utilities was just too much.
When I heard that a friend was moving out of a three-bedroom apartment on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, I jumped on it. My friend had been sharing with three other women (one of the bedrooms had a temporary wall installed so it became an unofficial 4-bedroom).
The room I have now is almost as big as my entire Chelsea apartment and I have use of a huge living room, dining room, a full-sized kitchen and a normal bathroom. Even though there are four of us, it never feels crowded.
I'm on the third floor of a brownstone, so there's a climb but I don't mind since my share of the rent is $600! I lucked out. The owner of the building hasn't raised the rent in three years. Here's hoping that continues.
Brooklyn Heights is no Chelsea when it comes to nightlife and on-street activity. When I get home in the early hours of the morning on weekends, there's no one on the street, just a few delivery people and maybe a sanitation truck.
I don't mind the quiet, though. I grew up in the country, in upstate New York, and I like to be away from the chaos of city life. I never hear my neighbors—in Chelsea because the building I lived in was a converted hotel, the apartments were pretty close together. You couldn't avoid hearing your neighbor's music. In this apartment, you don't hear a thing.
I used to shop at Whole Foods and now Key Food is my closest market. That's not bad for the basics but to get good, fresh produce I walk about 15 minutes to Trader Joe's or to Garden of Eden where the produce is good but a bit expensive.
The choice of restaurants within my immediate neighborhood isn't great, although I love the restaurant Noodle Pudding a short walk away on Henry Street.
I go to Atlantic Avenue or Smith Street if I want a bigger choice. Just before I moved from Chelsea, Rub, the barbecue place, opened next door and I miss that—I could smell the barbecue from my building.
And there's a Doughnut Plant that opened in the Chelsea Hotel that I would have liked to keep as a neighbor.
But here, in Brooklyn Heights, I do have a 24-hour bagel spot next door, so that's awesome.
On a Saturday morning here, it's wall-to-wall strollers but that's fine with me. So, it's not a happening area, and pretty much closes down at 11 p.m.
Transportation is still good—easy access to the 2,3,4,5 and R trains—and being able to save so much money in rent and have a spacious place to live is 100 percent worth the trade off.