It’s no secret that New Yorkers face brutal, soul-crushing commutes: the crowds, the noise, the agita. In fact, a report out earlier this year from the city comptroller’s office found that we have the longest commute time in the country—an average of 6 hours and 18 minutes each week, which translates to approximately 330 hours a year spent slogging on the train.
The same report also found that employers in the city are notoriously stingy with flex time, making the daily commute not only bone-rattlingly long, but a necessary evil. Fortunately, there are ways around the commute—namely, by positioning yourself in a neighborhood that offers a speedy route from Point A to Point B.
This new series will look at neighborhoods that allow you to get to work in a half hour or less (or close, depending on the MTA's whims). This week, our goal is to get you to main thoroughfares in the Financial District. Let the commuting games begin!
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Jersey City, New Jersey
The neighborhood: Modern-day Jersey City is a far cry away from what it looked like in the 17th century, when Dutch fur trappers roamed the marshes for pelts. These days, you’re not likely to see much sky, since the town has experienced a construction boom of epic proportions. More than 6,000 units will be built within the next year, according to the Jersey Journal, including several 40 and 50-story high rises.
Still, with the influx of mega-towers comes plenty of dining and entertainment options, including farmer’s markets and shows, that have come to rival Manhattan. Restaurants like Maritime Parc bring not only great cuisine but some pretty unforgettable views, and local favorites like Sam AM show that sometimes all you really need are local cafes with wickedly good brunches.
And thanks to new ferry service, getting into the city is also a scenic, and manageable, affair. According to Trulia, the average home cost is $405,000, while the average rent is $3,600, thanks to an influx of luxury towers. Still, there are deals to be found if you’re willing to look for older buildings and trade in views for savings.
Travel time: 19 minutes (from Journal Square to World Trade Center); 12 minutes (from Liberty Harbor ferry station to Wall Street ferry terminal)
Mode and cost: PATH Train, $2.75 one-way; New York Waterway, $7.00 one-way
Be a part of new bohemia with this one-bedroom apartment in the East Village for $2,700.
East Village, Manhattan
The neighborhood: In the post-gentrification East Village, you’re more likely to find artisanal upstate fare, pricey tapas, and hip coffee shops than any remnants of the punk scene of yore. “The type of person who wants to live there is someone who wants to be in the middle of the action,” Corlie Ohl, a broker with Citi Habitats and long-time East Village resident says. Still, the neighborhood has charm in droves with plenty of corner cafes, shops, and community gardens.
And since it’s downtown, it’s close to a bevy of transit options, including the F, 6, N, R, and L trains, in addition to the M15 Select Bus Service that takes you right down to Wall Street from Houston Street, not to mention plenty of CitiBike hubs. Rents average around $2,800 for a one bedroom, per MNS's September 2015 market report, while the median home value is $1.4 million, up 13.9 percent from last year.
Of course, because most of the inventory here is housed in turn-of-the-century tenements, expect smaller spaces and most likely, a few flights of stairs. “It’s probably not one of the cleaner places in the city to live, it’s got that sort of that urban edge,” Ohl concedes, but adds that the sheer diversity of bars and restaurants and “authentic” New York feel more than make up for that.
Travel time: 24 to 29 minutes, depending on route (from Astor Place to Fulton Street Transit Center)
Mode and cost: 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge; M14 to Essex St/Delancey St/J to Fulton St; M9 to Park Row/Beekman St; M15 to South Street Seaport (all $2.75 single fare) CitiBike to nearly anywhere; $9.95 for 24-hour pass or $149 annual membership
$2,400 will get you a two-bedroom in historic Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The neighborhood: If you crave the communal feel of brownstone Brooklyn but don’t want to (or can’t) give into the tony prices Park Slope commands, Bed-Stuy is a great go-to. Its supremely Instagram-worthy streets are a huge appeal. “The housing stock of brownstones and limestones are so unique,” says Dave Maundrell, executive vice president of Brooklyn and Queens New Development for Citi Habitats. “If you just walk the streets with a nice cup of coffee, you can have a decompressing morning.”
And Bed-Stuy is great for those seeking respite from the city. Because there are virtually no high-rises, you get a sense of the bucolic past Brooklyn once had. That, admittedly, has drawn a steady flow of gentrifiers, which has in turn brought a steady flow of criticism. Still, in our experience, long-time residents and newcomers tend to co-exist peacefully.
The massive neighborhood (and adjoining Stuyvesant Heights) is serviced mostly by the A and C lines to the south, and if you can catch the express A train, it takes you only minutes (17, to be precise) to go from deep Brooklyn to Fulton Street.
The neighborhood itself is getting increasingly spendy, but that doesn’t mean deals aren’t to be had. The median price for a one-bedroom price is $2,050, and if you have $1 million, you can snatch up a historic brownstone (that may or may not need work).
Travel time: 17 minutes (from Kingston-Throop Avenues to Fulton Street; taking the local train adds a few more minutes)
Mode and cost: A or C lines; $2.75 one-way
Long Island City, Queens
The neighborhood: Because of its geographical location, Long Island City makes it nearly a part of Manhattan or Brooklyn. The once-industrial neighborhood is now a hotbed for luxury towers, diverse (and critically-acclaimed) eateries, and a flourishing art scene. Prices tend to be higher here, especially if you spring for a tower with views of the Manhattan skyline.
To that end, the average rental one-bedroom is going for $2,986 and the average sale price creeping up steadily, currently at $849,000, according to Trulia.
“In terms of convenience with the city, it’s almost perfect,” Maundrell says of the commute. “Now with the 7 extension, you can go across Manhattan and connect with almost any subway line, uptown or downtown, and you get amazing city views when you get home.”
This neighborhood lures plenty of art lovers, with notable names like MoMA PS1, SculptureCenter, and the Museum of the Moving Image all calling Long Island City home, in addition to waterside promenades and plenty of other activities.
Travel time: 24 minutes (from Hunterspoint Avenue to Fulton Street)
Mode and cost: 7 train to 4 or 5 trains (transfer at Union Square); $2.75 one-way
St. George, Staten Island
The neighborhood: Staten Island is often overlooked in favor of every other borough and written off as sleepy and suburban. But the northernmost neighborhood of the borough offers several things that Manhattan (and, ostensibly now, Brooklyn) can’t—bigger spaces, lower prices, and a commute not by land but by sea.
And for aficionados of pre-war splendor, St. George is as good a place as any to be, with decent turn-of-the-century offerings and there are bargains to be had According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the average rent for a one-bedroom is around $1,300, much lower than most anywhere else remotely close to FiDi. And compared to Brooklyn, where the median one bedroom is $2,635, you're saving more than $1,300 to call Staten Island home.
Admittedly, you’d likely be hard-pressed to have visitor from other boroughs, but with that kind of bargain (not to mention a free ferry commute), you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Travel time: 25 minutes (from St. George to Whitehall Street Terminal)
Mode and cost: Staten Island Ferry; free