From Hell's Kitchen to Park Slope: We wanted a family-friendly area to put down roots and raise our son

  • The couple were outbid on four apartments before landing their current place
  • They now pay $4,300 for a two bedroom, about the same as their Manhattan one bedroom
  • 'We were afraid it would be less convenient than Midtown, but it is just as convenient'
By Kelly Kreth  |
December 22, 2023 - 9:30AM
transitions brick underground

James and family scored not one but two private balconies and "a really cool view of Park Slope" and beyond. 

After their son was born, James and his wife decided to leave Hell’s Kitchen to look for a more residential community. They headed for the Park Slope area to put down roots. Here’s his story. 

I grew up in Buffalo, as did my wife, Caitlin. We met in 2009 when we were both working at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio as ballroom instructors.

We moved to New York City in 2012. Both of us always wanted to live in the city just because we loved it. We ended up in Hell’s Kitchen where we lived in three different places over the course of a decade. 

The last one was a one bedroom with one and a half baths in a wonderful, full-service condo building. We paid $4,500 a month. It was 871 square feet, had a great view of Midtown, and came with a large storage space. The building had a 24-hour doorman, gym, courtyard, live-in super, and roof deck. We felt we had "made it" with all the amenities, our own balcony overlooking the garden, and a washer/dryer in the unit. We loved everything about the apartment.

What kept them in Hell's Kitchen 

We also thought we would never leave Hell's Kitchen. It always had a very local feel. I loved that some people hated it but us "true HKers” knew how great the area is. It has tons of restaurants, is close to Central Park and the water, and is an easy walk to Broadway shows and our offices—it is the most accessible area in Manhattan. 

Caitlin had a 12-minute walk down 54th Street to Sixth Avenue, where she works in a legal and compliance department at an investment firm. As a real estate agent at Compass, I loved being able to get anywhere in 30 minutes or less. Most of the time I would ride a Citi Bike or walk to my Union Square office. 

Hell's Kitchen is way underrated as a social scene. It's packed with fun, interesting restaurants. Jasper's Taphouse & Kitchen was our go-to place for a casual meal or meeting with friends. We were there on opening day and knew the whole staff. Noodies was a staple for Sunday evenings (aka Thai Food Sunday), as were treats from Huascar & Co. Bakeshop. I still talk to everyone at Huascar. I’m not sure if it's a good or bad thing to be a known regular at a bakery. Il Melograno is still one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. Ardesia is one of my all-time favorites, period: wine, food, patio—it's perfect! 

Whenever it was nice, we had three options for hanging outdoors: DeWitt Clinton Park, Hudson River Park, and Central Park. 

We especially spent a ton of time at DeWitt Clinton Park. Early on it was every Sunday for flag football, and then working out there during the Covid shutdown. And when our son was born, we chased him all around the playground.

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

Wanted: A two bedroom in Brooklyn for less than $5,500

But we knew we wanted to be in a place that our son would love to grow up in, and we decided to give Brooklyn a try. 

As a real estate agent, I represented myself. My requirements were a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with a washer/dryer. A garden duplex was okay if it was in a brownstone, but otherwise, we required an elevator. Our budget was up to $5,500. 

We saw a couple dozen apartments over the course of a few months. I know Brooklyn from work, but my wife knew almost nothing about the neighborhoods. We explored everywhere from Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, and adjacent areas. A lot of times we went to see a couple of apartments and then stayed to spend time walking around and getting a feel for the location.

We heard Park Slope was extremely family friendly so it seemed like it might be a good place for us to set down roots. 

It sounds cheesy, but when you know, you know. We knew Park Slope was the place for us after about the second or third visit. We took our son to the playground after an apartment visit. While there, I had been putting off a visit to CityMD, so I Googled it and there was one just a couple blocks away. Then, while I was at the doctor, my wife took my son to get lunch. It seems like nothing but we realized how much the area had to offer. We had been afraid it would be less convenient than living in Midtown Manhattan, but it is just as convenient. 

We applied for four apartments and kept getting outbid.

Then we noticed a two-bedroom apartment that had been sitting on the market for a few months and was just a little high priced. We really liked it, so we started negotiating and ended up getting a really good deal.

Our new place is not too much different from our former one bedroom except for the extra bedroom. We have a washer/dryer in the apartment (a real one, not the ventless ones that take forever), two balconies, and a really cool view of Park Slope. We can even see the Statue of Liberty from our bedrooms on the seventh floor! 

It is in an early-2000s condo building with a common outdoor space, gym, and virtual doorman. The super and other staff are awesome. The building is not quite as new as the one we resided in before, but it checks all the boxes. 

Our rent is $4,300, which is about the same amount that we paid for our one bedroom in Hell's Kitchen. This is ideal because we wanted to get a feel for Brooklyn before committing to buying here.

How they like their new nabe

Park Slope is the quintessential Brownstone Brooklyn. Coming from Hell's Kitchen, it's still very convenient with restaurants, shops, and activities on Fifth and Seventh Avenues, but very quiet and gorgeous on the side streets. Our apartment is four minutes to the R train, one block to J.J. Byrne Playground, and two blocks to Whole Foods. 

Plus, our son's daycare is less than 200 feet from our front door. There are so many kids around, too. It's great for him to be so close to his little buddies. Because of the area’s demographics, most of the shops and restaurants are very welcoming to kids. With a toddler, you will find us at any one of the many area parks chasing him around. KidsTown Play Space on Sixth Street is also really fun. 

My wife went from a 12-minute walk to a 35-minute subway commute on her office days. This is the first time in over a decade of living in NYC Caitlin has had to take the subway to work. I am a walker. My current office is in Downtown Brooklyn, which takes less than 20 minutes by foot, and the Park Slope office is just three blocks away!  

We are still exploring everything that Park Slope has to offer. We continue to have Thai Food Sunday, and Glin Thai Bistro is the current champion. Bonnie's Grill is our overall #1 spot. It is originally from Buffalo and has the best wings. Blueprint has become our go-to date-night spot. 

Most of our friends are still in Manhattan. We are doing a hard pitch for them to come over. People who are not familiar with Brooklyn think that it is very remote, but then they see that it's not the case at all. We have made many new friends in the building and through our son’s daycare.

Our son is going to turn two soon. Park Slope has lots of good schools, including several in a 10-block radius. 

We truly found everything we were looking for as a family and have no reason to leave. We like it so much we may end up buying here in the future. 



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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