As is the nature of New York (and something we will ALWAYS be discussing), the rising rents in the once affordable neighborhoods are pushing New York newbies further out on subway lines. People are even going past *gasp* the Jefferson Street L station. OMG!!!!!
Yes, the rumors are true. As Craigslist annoyingly proves day after day, recently graduated students and transplants who are just kicking off their careers must now move as far as Halsey. But just how cool is life that far out on the line? Is it worth living in the boonies just to be off the L train and close to places like Morgan Ave where there are Yelp acclaimed bars and Zagat rated restaurants? Here’s an idea. Let’s find out!
For those who have never made the trip, the L train Halsey stop is literally right on the border of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Ridgewood, Queens. These two neighborhoods paint a very different picture, as Queens is known to give you way more bang for your buck nowadays than Brooklyn or Manhattan a.k.a. the mothership of exhorbitence and ridiculousness. According to Zillow, the average rent for a three bedroom in Ridgewood is $1751, as opposed to hotspot Morgan Ave area where it’s $2,792. What da funk. No wonder mofos are searching for dwellings in other seas.
But like, is it safe out there???? I don’t know anything about Queens!!!
Ridgewood is about the same on the crime scale as Bushwick. So far in 2013, Ridgewood’s precinct has had 221 crime complaints for felonies, as opposed to Bushwick’s which has had 226, including two murders. But there has been one more reported rape in Ridgewood than Bushwick which, if you’re like me, is what you really care about. However, in other sex crimes, Bushwick outweighs Ridgewood 9 to 2 which is terrifying. But there’s many more burglaries in Ridgewood than Bushwick. So whether you feel safe or unsafe off Jefferson and DeKalb, you’ll likely feel the same off Halsey.
But let’s not focus on these stats. They’re just the crime numbers, people. And while it’s very important to know this stuff, nobody wants to talk about depressing things all day. AMIRITE?? We also want to know how it actually feels to live off Halsey. What are the apartments like? Where do the residents eat and hang out? WHY LIVE LIFE ON THE EDGE??? (And by that, I mean the Brooklyn-Queens edge).
So, do you like it??
Richard P. of Covert Street originally moved to Washington Heights two years ago. As a musician, Richard found himself having public transit escapades from upper Manhattan to Brooklyn because all the venues he wanted to visit are in the ‘Wick or the ‘Burg. Think about it. The L train is simply strung with hot concert spots like Death by Audio, Shea Stadium and or that place off Jefferson that used to be a storage facility. “Even though I was living [in Washington Heights], I wasn’t really hanging out in Manhattan. It’s a deadzone. There’s nothing for me, musically. My catch phrase actually is ‘Maybe Manhattan.’” (We both had a chuckle at that one. You gotta hand it to him. You really do).
When Richard first made the switch to north Brooklyn, he was living off the Montrose stop on the L, but then moved to Halsey for cheaper rent. Right now he’s only paying $500 for one bedroom in a two bedroom apartment. “Yeah it’s further, but there’s no downside really. If you’re expecting something glamorous, Halsey will let you down. But if you want something cheap, you have to make concessions.” While he says there’s nowhere really to go right off his stop in terms of bars, cafes and restaurants, he knows a lot of other people on Halsey, so for fun he’ll usually hang out at a friend’s place. “Other than that there’s really nothing to do. Even bodegas close by 10 p.m. Like I said, it’s not glamorous.”
Theresa D. of Hancock is quite content with Halsey. She has a three bedroom apartment where she also has an amazing redone backyard and entire basement to use as a practice space for her band. “I like that it’s a real neighborhood, not a summer camp like other areas off the L, like Morgan. The nightlife is a bit dry, but if we want to go out, we usually take the B60 to Morgan or Jefferson Street, and it’s only a 5 minute ride.” Theresa expressed that being close to her friends was a huge factor in deciding where to live, and most of her friends live off the L. She’s also able to feel like she can have an actual home in her current situation, which is in a brownstone, as opposed to 532 Johnson where she used to live, and said felt very temporary and a bit janky. I asked Theresa if she felt safer off Halsey versus 532 Johnson which is situated in a very desolate, industrial area. “532 Johnson was a bit weird because it’s desolate and near the DOE fund. Halsey is quiet in winter, but in the summer there’s a lot of parties and then a lot of cat-calling. But that can happen anywhere, and it’s a very family oriented neighborhood, so I guess it all depends.”
Santiago M. has been living off the Ridgewood side of Halsey for almost a year and feels very safe. He comes from a small town in New Mexico, so the residential feel of Ridgewood is actually comforting to him. “I can go home and feel relaxed. Bushwick is a little more rowdy than Ridgewood.” Santiago said that the selling point was definitely being off the L train. “I live close to the L and it’s a mainline, straight to the city.” As someone who works in film, Santiago finds himself all over New York for work, so the easy transfers on 14th Street make for a nice commute. While Santiago says there’s not much to do in general, there is a cool gallery called The Outpost in his neighborhood. “There’s not much else in terms of boutique places, but for general food it has everything you need. I can see more things opening up in the future though.”
Belen L, formerly of Summerfield Street, saw no upsides though. “I moved there because it was cheap. I thought it wasn’t that far, but didn’t realize how bad an extra four stops can be, especially when there’s nothing around you. There’s no bars, no cafes, nowhere to go. Every time I wanted to go somewhere I had to leave. And when you live in Ridgewood, none of your friends want to come visit you. There’s also smelly places where they have live chickens and bunnies you can butcher yourself. It stinks. And there’s no good grocery stores aside from a grubby Western Beef.” When I asked her if she ever hung out there while living there, she said, “No. Not once.” When I asked if she saw any benefit to living there, she said, “If you’re looking to have family and a boring place close to fun places, sure. Well, semi-close, anyway.”
So what we’ve gathered is, yes, Halsey means extra time on the train and, yes, it can be a little boring and not necessarily safer. But if you’re a north Brooklyn lover who needs an affordable pad in a real neighborhood with actual families and schools and stuff (and you have a good playlist for your commute), Halsey could be right for you. Think about that brownstone you’ve always wanted to sit on the stoop of during the summer like in Hey Arnold. You can actually have it in Ridgewood. And if Williamsburg is your farthest destination most of the time, things are still close. Well, semi-close. But even if you don’t plan on moving there, visit your friends who do. You could be hanging out in an awesome backyard like Theresa’s or getting to know people at the surrounding lofts like Richard does. And if you’re not going to even do that, at least consider investing in a place for when Halsey’s first bourgeois-dega opens up and the area is worth a flippin’ goldmine.