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The apartment: Cheaper and more space
My wife and I recently moved to Jackson Heights, Queens, from Prospect Lefferts Gardens--a nebulous triangle sandwiched between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn--after an apartment that my family owned for decades came out of litigation and became available. It’s a co-op, and since the mortgage was paid off long ago, we pay maintenance of only $900 per month.
We lived in Prospect Lefferts Gardens for about three years in a nearly 700-square-foot one-bedroom about a block from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The apartment had a big kitchen and was plenty spacious. By the time we moved, we were paying $1,900 a month.
Our new place is a one-bedroom, pre-war with an office and a sunken living room -- and it's almost 1,000 square feet.
The neighborhoods: Sleepy vs. bustling
The main difference between the two neighborhoods is that the Prospect Heights area felt sleepier and more residential, while Jackson Heights is bustling.
In Brooklyn, our tree-lined street faced the the park, but there weren’t a lot of people walking around. In fact, I got mugged at gunpoint one night. I considered moving, but decided to stick it out.
Of course, our area of Brooklyn was gentrifying, and Park Slope was leaking over to us. The people who opened Al Di La opened Bar Corvo, an Italian restaurant. Then we got a fancier Chinese fusion place called Colala. Franklin Avenue stuff was getting fancier, for sure, but there weren't a lot of places to hang out.
I feel safer in Jackson Heights because people are around all the time and there are 24-hour supermarkets and drug stores everywhere. There’s also a lot of horn-honking. It’s a traffic nightmare.
Streets are packed with stores and Indian supermarkets. There are also tons of outdoor markets that sell piles of fruits and vegetables. It’s like the equivalent of a farmers' market every day of the week.
There are also rows and rows of Indian resturants. Some of the restaurants are upscale and some not so much. We recently went to a really good place called Himalayan Yak, which has Tibetan and Nepali food. But so far my absolute favorite restaurant here is called Unidentified Flying Chickens. It's great for wings.
Legends Bar and Grill is a cool sports bar with a smoker in the back for barbecue.
The commute: Quicker to Midtown, slower to the FiDi
When we lived in Brooklyn, my commute to work near Herald Square was about an hour. My wife’s, to the South Street Seaport area, was about 30 minutes. Now we’ve switched and mine is the shorter one. My commute is 30 minutes and hers is about an hour now.
In Brooklyn, it was great because we were near the 2,3,4,5, B and Q subway trains.
But Jackson Heights is also a transportation hub, and now we’re near the E,F, R, M and 7. What’s really good about Jackson Heights is that if you go on vacation, going to the E station for JFK is really easy; LaGuardia is also just a quick cab or bus ride. We actually see the planes, but luckily don’t hear them.
We’re absolutely happy with our decision to move because the apartment is so great. It’s also nice to have that urban feel, and all the city conveniences, like Duane Reades, tons of cafes. And it doesn’t hurt that you can be in Midtown in about 20 minutes.