Lower East Side to Williamsburg: Add the (soon-to-open) Whole Foods, and this neighborhood will be perfection

By Quinn Asteak  | May 10, 2013 - 11:24AM

After three years living on the Lower East Side with a roommate, I needed my own space. It was just time to move on to bigger and better things. Specifically, a bigger and better kitchen. I’m a personal chef, so a nice, spacious kitchen in which to prepare meals is pretty important. That, and I really wanted to live in Williamsburg.  

I had been thinking about the move for a while and did a lot of research about what I could get for my money in Williamsburg. But the search itself hardly took any time at all. It all just came together very quickly.

Within hours of telling my roommate that I was ready to move out, I ran into a friend who happens to be a real estate broker.  Right away, he set me up with someone from his company to take me out to see apartments.  

My old place on the Lower East Side (on Rivington Street between Ridge and Pitt) was great. It was a converted school building with an elevator, 24-hour security guard, laundry and roof deck with great views. So the new place had to measure up to that. In addition, I had a list of non-negotiables: big kitchen, dishwasher and I wanted a new, clean, one-bedroom. I also had a list of "in a perfect world" items: deep bathtub, doorman, and natural light.

When I walked into the second apartment the broker showed me in Williamsburg, I knew I had found my home.  

The new place delivers my entire wish list and more. It’s in a new building situated behind the main building (a luxury, renovated walk-up) on South 8th Street. To get to my apartment, you walk through a beautiful zen garden with a waterfall; my apartment is in the back of the garden. There are just two units in the little back building. I am on the ground floor and there is a unit above me.  I have floor to ceiling windows so it’s like living in the zen garden. It's amazing.

In addition to my must haves, there is a garbage disposal, a jacuzzi tub, and plenty of light from those windows. There is a video security system, and I have access to the zen garden and a roof deck. Plus: free laundry!

Of course, this comes at a price. I’ve nearly doubled my rent. When I was living with my roommate, I was paying $1,500. Now I pay $2,300. But as I said, it was time to move on, and this price is well worth what I get for it.

I really loved the young energy in Williamsburg.  I love all the independent stores, the low buildings and the newness of it all. There is art everywhere, a vibrant bar scene, and lots of fashion, which all help to fuel me creatively. I feel like everyone in Williamsburg is attractive, stylish and young -- everyone just wants to have fun.

And I'm not complaining. Who couldn't use more of that in their life?   Most of my friends are in Manhattan, though I do have a handful of awesome friends in my new 'hood so I'm looking forward to spending more time with them.

I loved the diversity on the LES but I lived about half a block from the projects and could constantly hear screaming, fighting and loud music out on the street. I even heard gun shots from time to time.  It was exhausting.  

There are no gun shots heard in my zen garden.

Most of my work and clients are in Manhattan, but the “commute” into Manhattan is no problem. In fact, I’m much closer to a subway now that I was before. I’m just one stop out of Manhattan so it's really easy for me to get into the city, though it definitely takes some extra planning.  

Where I used to just hop in a cab I don't have that luxury any more. But basically, I was two blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge before, and now I am two blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge from the other side.

In terms of places to go in my new neighborhood, the possibilities are almost endless. I’m surrounded by amazing restaurants. For a food lover like me, it’s a wonderful neighborhood to be in. In my area, I've found that there are a lot of great places to eat out.  I like to refer to Broadway as "Meat Street”. I have Peter Luger, Marlow and Sons  and Marlow and Daughters right down the road.  Also on the block are Diner and Dressler, then you have Traif a couple blocks north.

There are a lot of great kitchen supply stores around here as well -- very useful for a chef.

One area that needs improvement: You can find organic products in every store but there isn't a great supermarket or a good place to buy organic produce, which is frustrating. I haven't found my grocery store yet and I end up going to a bunch of different places to get what I need.

I can get some things at a great bodega, Mr. Pina, and some things at Food Town and sometimes I need to head into the city to hit up Whole Foods.  I just found out about this website called which delivers organic produce, so I'm going to try that for sure.

I'm waiting for the Whole Foods which is going to be about a 10-minute walk away once it opens next year. Then my life here will seem complete.

Transitions highlights New Yorkers’ first impressions as they transition from one  neighborhood to another. Want to tell us your transition story? Drop us an email.


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