Alphabet City to Park Slope: A happier living situation--and a happier neighborhood

By Erika Hackmann  | January 4, 2013 - 11:01AM

Most people might think that living in a $500-per-month apartment downtown without roommates is an ideal living situation. It’s not when you're in an approximately 300-square-feet Alphabet City studio on the fourth floor of a walk up, with a very small kitchen and a Murphy bed – the kind that folds out of the wall.

My apartment on Avenue C and 10th Street was a sublet from a family who used it as an office by day while I used it as my living quarters by night.

The apartment, which desperately needed some updating, was definitely not big enough for my two cats and me. 

But despite my challenging apartment situation, there was a lot to love about Alphabet City – mainly its proximity to the East Village. Alphabet City can be pretty gritty, especially when you get far out east, but its neighbor, the East Village has an abundance of restaurants, bars and shops.

It was very easy to go out and find something to do without traveling far. I’m also big on healthy organic food and there are a ton of juice bars, raw food restaurants yoga studios nearby, such as Yoga to the People, The Juice Press, Quintessence and one of my all-time, not as healthy favorites – Caracas Arepa Bar.    

After a while though, the tight quarters started to wear on me. At the same time my best friend moved out of an apartment she was sharing with her now ex-boyfriend. Since our timing aligned, we decided to look for apartments together.

We were both looking for a neighborhood with good restaurants and bars, close proximity to transportation which was safe and fit into our budget of about $2,000.

We settled on a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. My room is still small, but we have a relatively large kitchen with an island and a full living room with enough space to fit a dining table. Our apartment is above a bar, which could be a turn off for many people, but because it overlooks the patio, the view is nice and the noise is not terrible.

I am also closer to the F and R trains in my new neighborhood, but these are primarily local trains so it can be frustrating getting to work especially with all of the post-Sandy construction. They do, however, go directly to my office near Herald Square.

While I loved living alone, there are definitely compromises one makes to do so. I compromised space and privacy mostly. While there were compromises associated with moving to Brooklyn  -- such as fewer transit options, being further from my midtown office, my friends in Manhattan and my boyfriend in Williamsburg -- and having a roommate, it’s mostly been a positive experience.  

My roommate and I have made our apartment our own, which is something I could never do before. And now, not only can I have friends over (they fit), but I live with a friend. 

Since I'm just over a month in, I'm still learning my way around Park Slope, but I’m starting to love it for many of the reasons I loved Alphabet City.

There are lots of conveniences right on my block, including a bank, Laundromat, grocery store and bars. There are a ton of restaurants (including Talde, Franny’s and Rosewater) which I am dying to try -- especially for my favorite meal of the day: brunch.  

I’m glad I made the move to Brooklyn. A lot of people who live in Alphabet City are diehard “downtowners” and sometimes it can make you a little close-minded about other neighborhoods in New York. 

As I get older, I think I fit in with the Park Slope crowd more so than the rowdy East Villagers. There are a lot of couples and young families here. It is much more quiet and spacious.  

One of the things I noticed when I moved here was how much happier people seem. I now think it is the combination of the wonderful things this neighborhood has to offer coupled with the easier, less gritty pace of live.  And I think it’s rubbing off on me, because I am happy to be here.

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Related posts:

Alphabet City to Murray Hill: Close to everything and more space for the money. But fun? Not so much.

East Village to the Upper West Side: Escape from drunken revelry & stoop abuse

Upper West Side to Park Slope: Affordable outdoor space, fewer bankers and lawyers, and you can always see the sky

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