Living in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is an artist's cove, a neighborhood of open mic nights, off-beat rhythms and laid-back attitudes. Directly across from Alphabet City, Williamsburg extends up to Greenpoint and down below the Williamsburg bridge, sporting views of both Manhattan and Queens. Though it occupies up only a fraction of Brooklyn's surface, Williamsburg attracts trend-setters from all over the world and touches all its visitors with a unique community spirit.

Housing

If you don't have a trust find, you'll probably need to find a few roommates to live with you in Williamsburg. Comparable to the vibe of folks in the East Village but with a bit more space, this area of Brooklyn is a logical first step to living off the island.

Rents are cheaper on the south side of Metropolitan and increase as you head north into the new construction and center of the party on Bedford. You won't find brownstones here; most buildings are more modern and much shorter than their counterparts in Manhattan. If you have a bike, consider living near the foot of the bridge. It's a nice commute with lovely views and quick access to Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

People

Ah, Williamsburg, the land of the (male) skinny pant. Never has the world known such tapered legs and funky glasses. Williamsburg is a hipster's Mecca, uniting music-loving, off-beat dressers from all over the world.

A few smaller communities remain, though somewhat displaced. Since the hipsters came to town about a decade ago, the Hasidic Jewish community has moved south (near the JMZ line) and pockets of Hispanic residents remain, mostly on the south side of Metropolitan.

Safety

The main drags of Williamsburg (e.g. Bedford) are well-lit and invite groups of people to hang around well into the night, so you're never alone. As you turn off onto the side streets, be mindful if walking alone, particularly on the south side of Metropolitan or the areas near the BQE. Of course, if you feel unsafe you can always find a cab on Bedford. Paying a few dollars to get home in one piece is worth it.

Parks and Recreation

Williamsburg's proximity to the East River helps many of the small parks and green areas achieve water-front status. In the summer, live performances and sporting events (aka The Pool Pary) take place on the weekends along the waterfront.

Though McCarren Park is technically in Greenpoint, a good many Williamsburgers take advantage of this green space. Various athletic fields and dog runs attract locals, as well as the weekend Farmer's Market. Skateboards, however, may prefer the skate park near the bridge.

As for indoor athletics, Williamsburg is also home to several local gyms and Yoga studios. Try Greenhouse Holistic for some Yoga, Pilates and Belly Dancing fun.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

The main draw to this area is, of course, the live music scene. From Pete's Candy Store on Lorimer to Spike Hill on Bedford to the Music Hall of Williamsburg, you won't stumble two blocks without finding a band singing for its supper.

With a surplus of back gardens, Williamsburg also attracts anyone who likes drinking under the night sky. Surf Bar and The Rabbit Hole open their roofs, as does the Radegast Hall & Biergarten (if you're feeling up for wursts).

Shopping and Eating

Much of the shopping in this area is done outside. Bedford Ave. is framed by tables of movies, CDs and vintage clothes. Spend a sunny Saturday morning wandering the street markets to stock up on some used books. The anti-Netflix crowd will appreciate Videology, a VHS and DVD rental shop that also delivers right to your door.

Though supermarkets lack, the L train is consistently full of Bedford-stop shoppers flanked by Trader Joe's bags (located at the 3rd Avenue stop in Manhattan). And cheese lovers unite at the Bedford Cheese shop, which serves a variety of your favorite cheeses from around the world.

The Roebling Tea Room is one of the most charming places to hit for a Sunday brunch. If you try the Dutch pancakes, remember to wear pants with an elastic waist. For a lazy evening of take-out, try the taco truck on Bedford and 7th or the modestly-priced LA burrito. One last word to the wise: get your fill of curry elsewhere. Williamsburg is severely lacking in Indian food.

Transportation

Well the good news is that Bedford Avenue is only one subway stop away from Manhattan. The bad news is that it's the only stop servicing the neighborhood, which means overcrowding and plenty of elbows to the face. The L-train is, however, one of the only New York subways to list waiting times and is one of the more regular routes. You'll likely never have to wait more than ten minutes for the next train.

As for buses, the 39 takes you directly across the bridge and into the city. Within the area, there are plenty of other lines that weave their way over to the Metropolitan or Nassau stops on the G as well.

Good Points

  • good for hipsters
  • great location
  • fun, eclectic vibe
  • fantastic retaurants and bars

Bad Points

  • bad for suits
  • expensive rent
  • subway transportation is limited to one main stop

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Living in New York | ©2017 Kirsty Henderson