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Published by Contour Mortgage on March 10 2020

Best Neighborhoods To Live In Brooklyn

Topics: Home Buyers

Of the five boroughs that make up the greater metropolitan area, none have seen a more drastic transformation over the last few decades than Brooklyn. 

It began its real estate resurgence as an interesting and affordable alternative to Manhattan, particularly for anyone priced out of that borough’s skyrocketing rent and purchase costs. Brooklyn started to grow as a residential option for anyone who needed to get to Manhattan for work, but could no longer afford to live there.

Time went on. Salaries and job opportunities for outer-borough residents increased, while citywide crime dropped. Suddenly, young professionals and the real estate agents guiding them were choosing Brooklyn as a place to call home based on more than its proximity to Manhattan—they were choosing it for its charm and future potential. 

These days, parts of Brooklyn would be unrecognizable to anyone who lived there prior to the late 1990s. Kings County communities like Red Hook, Williamsburg, and Bushwick have been mostly revamped, with residential apartments replacing much of the industrial-tinged cityscape that came before. As the city’s metropolitan culture continues to expand outward, an increasing number of Brooklyn neighborhoods are becoming more attractive options for anyone looking to settle into a home of their own. 

Here are the top 10 Brooklyn neighborhoods for families, based on research by Niche.com’s “The 2019 Best Neighborhoods to Raise a Family in New York City.”

 

1. Prospect Heights

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 13 $998,656 $1,880 $108,608 Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Museum, Barclays Center About 30 minutes by subway

With Park Slope to the west and Fort Greene to the north, Prospect Heights is one of those enclaves that has benefited from the gleaming popularity of its more famous neighbors. Left to its own devices, the smaller neighborhood developed a unique, relaxed character and main-street America vibes that make it a great place to live and work. Prospect Heights sits at the nexus of Brooklyn’s transportation web, granting it access to many of the borough’s highlights and the greater metropolitan area. Though many of the tree-lined, leafy streets of Prospect Heights are still inhabited by attractive 19th-century row houses, large-scale additions like the Barclays Center and the Atlantic Yards-Pacific Park project are sparking new developments in former warehouses and existing lofts. 

Local Food Tip: Prospect Heights’ Vanderbilt Avenue is dotted with many eating and drinking destinations, but the best might be the most unassuming. Mitchell’s Soul Food is an old-school, cash-only eatery with robust portions at svelte prices. Be sure to try the fried chicken, but don’t sleep on the oxtails, collards, and cornbread.

 

2. Park Slope

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $1,121,111 $2,301 $133,991 Slope Park Playground, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Barclays Center, Grand Army Plaza  About 40 minutes by subway

After spending decades as a quiet, residential community with an older population, Park Slope burst onto the national real estate scene and emerged as one of the most desirable places for new families to live in all of New York City. With an active dining and shopping scene, along with a child-friendly reputation that sees its sidewalks crowded with strollers, Park Slope has become the home of choice for young professionals, open-minded creative types, and anyone looking to establish familial roots in Kings County. The two main thoroughfares, 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue, feature a mix of boutiques, bars, and casual eateries, while the neighborhood abuts the sprawling Prospect Park. As for the types of residences in Park Slope, there’s the signature brownstones, but also condos and co-ops in new buildings, and improbably pristine pre-war buildings. 

Local Food Tip: The restaurants and bars run the foodie gamut from high-priced trendy, to come-as-you-are casual. There’s Patsy’s for one of the city’s original slices of pizza; Maine-style lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster; and Camperdown Elm, a restaurant far too dynamic to compress into a quick blurb. Your best bet is Miriam, an Israeli spot that’s especially beloved for its brunch. 

 

3. Brooklyn Heights

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 13 $987,843 $2,212 $132,818 Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Adam Yauch Park About 30 minutes by subway

Brooklyn Heights has been a prominent area of the borough since 1834 and is known for its  low-rise architecture and its many brownstone row houses, many of which pre-date the Civil War. Situated along the East River, Brooklyn Heights owes much of its success through time to its waterfront—an advantage which first inspired commerce then gave it unparalleled views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty via the riverside promenade that’s lined with greenways, landscaped walkways, and scenic parks. Along with its fair share of brownstones, Brooklyn Heights lays claim to the Brooklyn Historical Society, the historic St. George Hotel, and an open-air green market at Borough Hall. There’s also the New York Transit Museum located just to the southeast of Brooklyn Heights. 

Local Food Tip: As the main drag in a dockside town, Henry Street historically provided some of the best food in the neighborhood—a fact that remains true. Near the “fruit streets,” Cranberry, Orange, and Pineapple from north to south, you’ll find Henry’s End—a narrow eatery that’s pleasantly lost in time thanks to braised duckling, Steak Diane, and a wild game festival each fall. 

 

4. Columbia Street Waterfront District

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $951,525 $2,224 $105,554 Van Voorhees Playground, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6, Adam Yauch Park, seven community gardens About 40 minutes by subway

One of the smallest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Columbia Street Waterfront District (CSWD) was formed in 1957 when the expansion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cut it off from neighbors Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the east. That forced separation and isolation turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it developed CSWD into one of Brooklyn’s most close-knit communities—a 22-block enclave with charming pockets populated by unique shops, eateries, seven community gardens, and a great view of lower Manhattan. The housing mainly consists of a mix of row houses and low-rise apartment buildings, featuring new developments and conversions of former factories and industrial buildings.

Local Food Tip: After Thai food destination Pok Pok shuttered in 2018, the go-to place for the best food in Columbia Street Waterfront District became Popina, a small eatery that deftly mingles rustic Italian with southern cuisine. Order the Hot Chicken Milanese or the pappardelle with ham and collard green ragu and shishito peppers. 

 

5. Windsor Terrace

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $848,207 $1,854 $103,049 Prospect Park, Greenwood Playground, Butterfly Gardens, Grand Prospect Hall About 40 minutes by subway

Crammed under Park Slope and Prospect Park, then wedged above National Historic Landmark Green-Wood Cemetery, Windsor Terrace is a blue-collar neighborhood that’s experienced a recent revival, while also maintaining its appreciation for the past. The noticeable lack of traffic lights and low traffic volumes gives it a small-town feel, as do the one-family houses with covered balconies, stained-glass windows, and bay windows. Other types of housing includes small clapboard houses, larger two-story houses with attics and basements, brick townhouses, and a few apartment buildings. One of the the more popular places in the community is Greenwood Park, a beer garden that also boasts a playground for families that includes handball and basketball courts, play equipment, and a dog run.

Local Food Tip: Instead of leaving Windsor Terrace to find some place to eat in Park Slope to the north or Ditmars Park to the south, stay in the neighborhood and make a stop at Della. The Italian-inspired eatery embraced its narrow space constraints by constructing it to mimic a Pullman dining car, resulting in a charming atmosphere that’s perfect for enjoying its braised short rib or its cacciucco, a rustic seafood stew.

 

6. DUMBO

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 13 $1,439,015 $3,327 $204,117 Empire Fulton Ferry Park, Main Street Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn Flea DUMBO About 25 minutes by subway

An acronym for “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass,” DUMBO is a neighborhood in northern Brooklyn that happens to claim one of the most iconic photo sites in the entire city: The corner of Washington and Water streets where the historic red-brick buildings on either side of the block make a corridor that frames the Manhattan Bridge. DUMBO residences are often open-space lofts with exposed brick and former industrial spaces transformed into living spaces, while some newer condos boast eco-friendly appliances and panoramic views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline. The neighborhood also happens to be one of the city’s most culturally vibrant areas, with pop-up galleries, local theater, and concert venues, like the famous brick St. Anne’s Warehouse. 

Local Food Tip: For a romantic meal tucked away under the Brooklyn Bridge, you can’t go wrong with The River Café, a Michelin-starred restaurant where wedding proposals are just as commonly experienced as the wagyu steak tartare. For a decidedly more laid-back eatery when you can’t decide on just one cuisine, saunter up to Time Out Market New York for everything from tacos to pizza to vegetarian to burgers and more—all from New York City’s most exciting culinary minds.  

 

7. South Slope

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $1,106,529 $2,149 $127,942 Prospect Park, Detective Joseph Mayrose Park, South Slope Dog Run, Butterfly Gardens About 40 minutes by subway

South Slope is a relatively new neighborhood that cropped up as “South Park Slope after a rezoning effort in 2005. Made up of pre-war row houses, along with newer construction and high density development near the center of the neighborhood, South Slope sits between Sunset Park and Greenwood Heights to the south and Park Slope to the north. Its position in the borough gives South Slope a personality that blends together the characteristics of its surrounding neighbors. There’s tree-lined streets, along with stretches of more rugged industrial buildings—it’s a mix of the quiet serenity of a small town and the bustling energy of a restaurant and bar destination. 

Local Food Tip: The borders of South Slope fluctuate more than the real estate market, so it’s no surprise that the neighborhood's must-eat gem is more associated with Greenwood Heights. Don’t let that stop you from settling into Lot 2, where the simple cheeseburger remains one of the borough’s underrated culinary secrets. And remember to order a side of duck fat fries. 

 

8. Carroll Gardens

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $1,210,488 $2,285 $131,399 Carroll Park, DiMattina Park, St. Mary’s Playground About 30 minutes by subway

Originally conceived as part of Red Hook, it’s neighbor to the south, Carroll Gardens came into its own in the 1960s. With a name that reflects the large gardens in front of the brownstones in the Carroll Gardens Historic District and elsewhere in the neighborhood, Carroll Gardens feels like a suburb—quaint, quiet, and downright charming. Single- and multi-family townhomes abound in Carroll Gardens, with brownstones, boutique condos and some converted row houses. And if you’re commuting to Manhattan while raising your family in Carroll Gardens, the community is a mere 10-minute subway ride to lower Manhattan, and just a tad longer by bike or by foot over the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, Downtown Brooklyn is just two subway stops away.

Local Food Tip: If you want to feel like you’re a member of some secret eater’s society, stop in Carroll Gardens favorites Lucali for charming, old-school pizza or Ugly Baby for spicy and flavorful Thai food. Both eateries burst with character—Lucali has no menus, only a blackboard of pizza, calzones and toppings, while Ugly Baby boasts some seriously spicy dishes (consider yourself warned).

 

9. Cobble Hill

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 15 $1,371,087 $2,380 $146,124 Cobble Hill Park, Boerum Park, New York Transit Museum About 30 minutes by subway

Just north of Carroll Gardens sits Cobble Hill, a neighborhood consisting of 40 blocks and what some consider to be the city’s greatest collection of 19th-century houses in its historic district. Another one of Brooklyn’s desirable neighborhoods with residents living out their “stoop life” dreams in wonderful brownstones, Cobble Hill features pedestrian-friendly streets and plenty of old-world charm thanks to its population of life-long inhabitants and young newcomers. Court and Smith streets are the two main commercial thoroughfares, with family-run Italian meat markets and old-time butcher shops cozied up against trendy shoes and cafes. Smith Street in particular gained the nickname of “restaurant row” in the early 2000s thanks to the large number of eateries and bars. 

Local Food Tip: A good neighborhood bakery is a privilege—when you find a keeper, never take it for granted. Cobble Hill’s Sicilian bakery Court Pastry Shop is one of the neighborhood’s originals, wafting enticing aromas of cannoli, Italian cookies, sfogliatelle, struffoli, and more for as long as anyone can remember. 

 

10. Downtown Brooklyn

School District Median Home Value Median Rent Median Household Income Nearby Parks & Features Proximity to Midtown Manhattan
Brooklyn Community School District 13 $813,641 $2,666 $122,549 Cadman Plaza Park, Trinity Park, Fort Greene Park, Main Street Park About 30 minutes by subway

The third largest central business district in all of New York City, Downtown Brooklyn is known for its office buildings—but it has also gained steam in recent years as a great place to live.  The high rises make Downtown Brooklyn feel closer to Manhattan than classical Brooklyn, but this city-leaning life can be appealing to certain types of people. Old Brooklyn does still exist though, with classic brownstones and low-rise buildings holding strong in between the high rises. One of the best mixes of the “old” and the “new” can be found at the Offerman House, a development with many modern amenities built into a building that dates back to 1930. 

Local Food Tip: Hustling through Downtown Brooklyn can get hectic, so you’d be well served to slow it down when it's time to eat. Amble into Pollo D’Oro for a luscious Peruvian rotisserie chicken and some of the city’s best ceviche.

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