Just as perplexing as the space-time continuum, the question of which neighborhood provides the most space and convenience for the money is familiar to every New Yorker. Shawn and I live in Harlem. We love the community, the architecture, the area’s rich history, plethora of food choice, and insane variety of culture. We end up meeting many clients through connections in the neighborhood so we often start our home searches with buyers here. But then very often an interesting thing happens—we end up in various areas of greater New York City, sometimes hours away from Harlem, trying to solve the space-neighborhood conundrum.
Last year we worked with an amazing couple expecting their first child and needing more space, and we started looking on 157th Street and Amsterdam. The search ended five months later with a very happy family, settled in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. That’s an hour and fifteen minutes away by train from that first apartment. Earlier this year we helped a couple wanting a better commute to Lincoln Center sell their one bedroom in Yorkville, with the idea they would then buy a two-bedroom in Harlem. Yet their commute concerns changed when they learned about the space to be had in Riverdale, and actually added an hour to their commute. And we just had clients close in the Grand Concourse area of the Bronx, who first came to us wanting a Harlem HDFC (a specific type of apartment with income restrictions; to learn more, read our blog post on HDFCs here), which is only a fifteen minute difference by train, but wildly different in feel of neighborhood. For each of these clients, location played a large part in the search, but they were open to exploring to find the right fit.
Now you’re thinking, “Great, but I was trying to narrow down a neighborhood vs being open to more!” I hear ya. Don’t fret, there’s an in between. Identify a good place to start looking, and just start. Then as you search, the list of needs for your surroundings will get more specific- proximity to grocery stores/places of worship/parks/ school, noise level, foot traffic, feel of the block, prominent type of architecture, width of street, etc. If that list is just not adding up the way you want, consider changing hoods to adjust, keeping your budget in mind. Next obvious question—What are the bang-for-your-buck neighborhoods? We’re on it!
To get you started on the neighborhood comparisons, the following is a chart of how our favorite neighborhoods breakdown by the numbers, which can really help at the start of the process. Then the choice of neighborhood is ultimately an emotional one. When you walk those blocks, it will feel right. And! We're going to be bringing you stories from these hoods in the very near future, giving you some insider knowledge of the personalities that call each, home. So here’s some stats to start, and be sure to check back for more to come. In the meantime, happy hunting!