The Newcomers

Why I moved to NYC from Houston: I wanted to grow my tech startup and live in a creative atmosphere

  • Wanted: a one bedroom in a 'convenient and vibrant neighborhood in Brooklyn' for $3,100 max
  • It took 20 apartments and a few bidding wars to land a place with bonus amenities in Williamsburg
By Kelly Kreth  |
September 1, 2023 - 10:00AM
newcomers brick underground

"I absolutely love exploring the local food scene," says business owner Nikita Sherbina, who is looking to rent office space in his new Williamsburg neighborhood too.

Houston-based tech entrepreneur Nikita Sherbina felt New York City was a great place to expand his business, so he picked up and moved to Brooklyn. He landed in Williamsburg, where he is happy to discover such a vibrant area with a great food scene. Here’s his story. 

I was born in South Korea and moved to Texas when I was 13 years old for my father’s work as a manager for a pharmaceutical firm. Most recently I was living with my family in Houston in a cozy yet spacious three-bedroom apartment with modern amenities. The rent was around $3,200 per month, which was reasonable for the area.

The neighborhood was vibrant, with a mix of residential and commercial areas. I enjoyed the friendly community and local events, as well as jogging at nearby Memorial Park, but I disliked the limited dining options within walking distance. There was a Kroger for grocery shopping. 

I was running my startup tech company—AIScreen—in Texas on a hybrid model, with some people working in the office and others working remotely across the world. We provide digital signage software that enables businesses to broadcast their information on one or thousands of screens from anywhere, anytime.

I had an old car, and I usually drove to work and around the city. Public transportation options were limited.

Occasionally, I'd use the subway or buses for specific trips within the city, but having my car provided a level of convenience, especially for running errands and exploring areas outside the regular transit routes. That said, the traffic congestion was a drawback. 

My social life was fantastic, with lots of gatherings with friends and family creating a strong sense of community.

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series The Newcomers features first-person accounts about why a renter or buyer decided to take a chance on NYC and live here now. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

Why he left Houston for NYC

About a year ago, I decided to move to NYC due to the city's endless opportunities for my tech startup and to expand my business connections. 

The process of finding an apartment to rent was much more competitive and fast-paced compared to Houston—the higher demand here makes it crucial to act quickly to secure a place. 

My requirements were basically a reasonably priced one bedroom in a convenient and vibrant neighborhood in Brooklyn. I wanted a cozy and stylish apartment all to myself, no roommates needed! My budget was a maximum rent of $3,100. 

I searched for apartments online and also worked with Shmuly Zaklikofsky, an agent at Brooklynyte Real Estate. I saw about 20 properties, with multiple applicants for the apartments I was interested in, leading to a few bidding wars. But I finally found one I liked and matched my parameters. Then it took about two weeks from the time I submitted the bid to closing the deal.

My new apartment is in the lively neighborhood of Williamsburg. The building offers a range of amenities, including a fitness center, rooftop terrace, and communal lounge. The one-bedroom apartment is of a moderate size, providing ample space for my needs. The rent was within my budget. 

I sold most of my furniture in Texas and bought new items after moving to NYC. It was more practical than transporting everything.

How he likes the new neighborhood

The area is known for its artistic vibe, bustling nightlife, and trendy restaurants and cafés. Its proximity to Manhattan makes it an ideal location for both work and leisure, and I feel energized by the creative atmosphere that surrounds me here.

I love the convenience of having everything I need within walking distance, making it incredibly practical for my daily life. Additionally, being close to so many wonderful cultural attractions adds to the charm of living here.

I absolutely love exploring the local food scene. Some of my favorite places to eat are Peter Luger Steak House for mouthwatering steaks and Smorgasburg for diverse and delicious street food. I enjoy visiting Domino Park for a relaxing afternoon by the waterfront. 

I go to Whole Foods for food shopping or use Seamless to order in.

Currently, I work from home and have been managing my company remotely; my team has also been working remotely. However, I am actively looking for new office space in Williamsburg, so I won’t have to drive to work. 

Even though public transportation here is pretty good, I decided to buy a new car and sold my old one. Having my own ride gives me that extra freedom and flexibility. That said, parking spaces are scarce, so finding a spot for my car can sometimes be challenging.

How his social life is going

From a financial and business perspective, moving to NYC has been a great decision. Though socially, I miss the strong connections I had back in Texas.

My brother loves the idea of visiting NYC, while my mom feels a bit sad that I'm far away. Overall, they are supportive.

It has been a bit hard to make new friends due to the fast-paced lifestyle, but I've managed to meet new people through networking events and other social gatherings.

I definitely plan on staying and growing my business while further exploring everything NYC has to offer. 



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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