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Two years ago, I moved from West Sixth Street and Avenue T in Gravesend --a neighborhood in south-central Brooklyn that's near Coney Island--to Eastchester Road (near Morris Park Avenue) in Morris Park, a neighborhood in the East Bronx about 10 minutes by car from the Bronx Zoo. I made the move from Brooklyn to the Bronx for medical school.
A downside of Gravesend is it tends to get boring. You're just about paying the high Brooklyn prices to live there, but you're not getting the same perks (e.g. coffee shops, bars, as many restaurants) that you are in trendier parts.
You can’t go wrong with any restaurant along Arthur Avenue, but if you’re looking for something closer to Morris Park, Patricia’s, an Italian restaurant on Morris Park and Lurting avenues, is really good.
Loreto Park, on Morris Park Avenue between Haight and Tomlinson avenues, has a nice playground for children, basketball, handball and bocce courts, and is a nice area to just relax.
There are a few options for grocery shopping, including D & D Quick Shop and Big Deal Supermarket on Morris Park Avenue, Vila European Market on Williamsbridge Road and Apple Grocery and Produce on Eastchester Road.
I find that taking public transportation to Manhattan is harder from the Bronx than from other boroughs. It takes longer and trains are more sporadic. It could take almost twice as much time to get to downtown Manhattan from Morris Park than it would take from Gravesend--about an hour and a half during a slow commute.
There is an express bus that stops in front of my building, but how often it comes depends on the time of day. The East 180th train station is the closest station to my apartment; it’s served by the 2 and 5 trains. I feel that it’s easier to have a car over here, but my opinion may be skewed by the fact that I park in a garage. On-street parking seems ok in the area, though.
After a year and a half, if I end up doing my research somewhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn, I would entertain the idea of moving back in with my family in Brooklyn to cut costs and commute time. I've noticed that many of the residents that I interact with actually live in Manhattan. While I would love to continue working here, I don't think I would necessarily stay beyond four or five years just because of the lack of good nightlife and the tough commute to Manhattan.
The way that I feel about the neighborhood in general is that this is a great place for me to learn and grow at this stage in my life and career. The history and cultural diversity in small neighborhoods like this one is one of the many reasons that I love New York. The cheap rent doesn't hurt either.
*Note: The author's opinions are not of the institution he works or worked for and he's not a paid employee.