Yesterday's Metro headline gave us a brief sense of satisfaction that all our friends who left to live in the land of faux-crappy, Middle America restaurants will soon come crawling back: "Want to save money? Move to Manhattan." It seems that folks fleeing Manhattan for the "happening" parts of Brooklyn are "displacing the people that can't pay that kind of money and they're putting them back in the East Village." Really? Maybe. Would you believe that New York real estate is complicated?
Yuri Lobachevsky, Citi Habitats' Senior Managing Director for the rental giant's East Village office says he's not seeing too many clients fleeing Williamsburg. "Nah, it's an exaggeration. If anything people are still moving to Williamsburg from the East Village, for a variety of reasons," he says, citing the "booming" neighborhood's "beer gardens, new restaurants," basically everything we love and love to lampoon.
But as Sang Nguyen, an agent at Caliber Associates points out, "Numbers are numbers. At $2,700, the average studio in Williamsburg is more expensive than all of the Neighborhoods in Manhattan, including Tribeca at $2,500." Nguyen adds, "I know colleagues who have clients who are leaving Williamsburg for Manhattan—maybe not the East Village but definitely the Upper East Side or the Financial District."
The UES is mentioned in Metro's piece as a neighborhood to snag a deal, and Nguyen agrees. "It's the cheapest for your money, it's more neighborhood-oriented—people don't want to come home to a commercial area like Midtown East. One of my clients moved there from the UWS and she saved $2,400 a year moving two miles." But she's more bullish on the Financial District. "Nowhere else in Manhattan can you get no-fee, one-month-free apartments in new high rises. To me, that's the best deal."
In a way, Lobachesvsky and Nguyen are saying the same thing you've heard from your friends who've just gone through getting a new apartment and have drank too much boxed wine at the party: if you want to live in a high-rise with a slew of built-in amenities, Williamsburg has value. But if you care more about how close you are to work than the mice nibbling at your Chex Mix, Manhattan still has the edge. "You have to compare apples to apples," Lobachevsky stresses, noting that there are still bargains to be had in North Brooklyn for apartments in tenement-style buildings. "But if you want a new building and amenities, you can find fantastic deals in Brooklyn. Of course it's going to be more expensive than your typical East Village one-bedroom, but you get so much more."
For example, the Arabella at 101 Avenue D between 7th and 8th Streets is listing 448-square-foot studios for $2,400. "You can move across the river and pay $2,900 at the Edge and you're basically in Manhattan, with the same distance to the trains," Lobachesvsky says.
Of course, if you want to be closer to the F, you could always move into The Ludlow, which rents at $3,500 for a one-bedroom, but then you'd never take the subway anyway because you have that giant dog thing from The Neverending Story to take you where you need to go.
Eventually, those new buildings like The Edge or Northside Piers are going to drive up everyone's rent in North Brooklyn, but hopefully by that time we'll be halfway to living in a warehouse in St. Paul.