Are you thinking of moving to Brooklyn? Of New York Citys five boroughs, Brooklyn (also known as Kings County) is the largest (69.5 square miles) and most populous. In fact, if Brooklyn were its own cityas it once was until the late 1800sit would be the third-largest city in the U.S. with over 2.5 million residents, second to Los Angeles and Chicago. Its no wonder that Brooklyn is so iconic.
But while Brooklyn may be portrayed as a hipster playground full of quirky cafes and hip brunch spots, Kings County has so much more going on. The borough is full of rich history everywhere you look. Generations of immigrant enclaves have left their unique (and delicious) marks on the borough, making it the most ethnically diverse county in the nation.
Brooklyn continues to attract new-comers and families from all over with its excellent schools, booming job market, and a strong sense of community. If youre considering moving to Brooklyn, heres what you need to know in order to enjoy the borough to the fullest.
1. Brooklyns Neighborhoods are famous for good reasons.
Many of Brooklyns most popular neighborhoods are famous even to those who have never set foot in the borough. For example, here are five noteworthy neighborhoods for you to explore as you consider your move to Brooklyn.
Brooklyns Williamsburg Neighborhood
This neighborhood has become the face of Brooklyn, thanks to countless films and TV shows that have been set here. If you seek the hipster experience and lifestyle, then Williamsburg is the place to be. Williamsburg has an abundant nightlife, brunch spots, art galleries, and dance clubs, so youll never be bored.
Those iconic street shots of the Manhattan Bridge that you see are taken, you guessed it, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass or DUMBO. This neighborhood is known for its amazing views of the Manhattan and the East River waterfront, abundance of tech startups, art galleries, and trendy markets.
Known for its historic buildings and brownstones, Park Slope is popular among young families and couples seeking a tight-knit community with good schools. Residents are just a quick walk from Prospect Park, Brooklyn Academy of Art, and the Central Library, as well as some of the best restaurants in Brooklyn.
Visiting Brooklyn Heights is like walking through the past, with the neighborhoods historic districts, notable churches, and pre-Civil War brownstones. One of Brooklyn Heights most famous landmarks is the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where hundreds of thousands of spectators gather for the 4th of July fireworks.
This neighborhood is considered one of New York Citys great African-American cultural centers, with beloved local restaurants serving up classic Southern-style cooking. Youll also find some of the citys best Caribbean fare here. Bedford-Stuyvesant is another neighborhood with beautiful Victorian architecture, brownstones, and various historic districts.
2. In Brooklyn, the cost of living is high.
According to an October 2019reportby Streeteasy, Brooklyns average house price is around $700,000 and its average rental price is about $2,700 per month. This makes the borough one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. So be prepared to do plenty of apartment and house hunting in order to find a good deal in the neighborhood you love.
Also, Brooklynites tend to define themselves based on which neighborhood they settle in, and they become loyal patrons to their local shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Make sure you weigh all your options and visit multiple neighborhoods before committing.
If there is one concession to Brooklyns high cost of living, it may be that you wont need a car when you live here. More than half the residents in Brooklyn live in car-free households, according toTri State Transportation.
3. Public transit is the way to go in Brooklyn.
Although complaining about the New York City subway and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a favorite pastime here in Brooklyn, the truth is that the subway is still the fastest and most reliable way to get around the city. Theres a reason why the NYC subway is world-famous: For just $2.75 a ride, you go anywhere you want to go in the city, at any time.
There are 170 subway stations in Brooklyn, and the boroughs major transit hub is Atlantic Terminal, which is served by the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, R and W trains.
What Locals Know About New York Citys Subway System
On the topic of subway lines: Theyre not created equal. While some lines like the 4/5/6 and 1/2/3 are fairly reliable, others like the infamous R and G trains get a bad rap with residents. The F train, in particular, has the lowest on-time rates in the entire subway system, according to areportby The New York Times.
Fortunately, the MTA is working hard to turn things around and get the subway performing like it did in its glory days. But until then, allow extra time for your commute, and bring a good book or download a podcast, because it may take a whileespecially if you live further out into the borough.
New Resident Tip:
Be sure to download the MTAs MYmta app, which will help you plan your commute and check for service disruptions.
Other Public Transportation in Brooklyn
While the subway is the primary mode of transportation for people in Brooklyn, you shouldnt overlook Brooklyns other modes of transit.
Brooklyn has 55 bus routes, many of them operating on former streetcar lines that date back to when the streetcar was the way to get around. Depending on where youre trying to go within the borough, the bus might be a quicker and more straightforward mode of transportation. Just be sure to download the MTAsBus Timeapp, so you can keep track of when the buses are coming and going.
Brooklyn by Bicycle
Americas very firstbike pathwas opened in 1894 along Ocean Parkway, one of Brooklyns main boulevards. Today, there are over 300 miles of bike lanes in Brooklyn, making the borough one of the most cyclist-friendly destinations in the nation. If you dont own a bicycle, dont worry! You can rent a Citi Bike (NYCs very own bike share system). Explore Prospect Park, the waterfront, or even bike over the Manhattan Bridge for aquite literallybreathtaking view.
New York City is famous for its yellow cabs, but in Brooklyn, youre much more likely to hail a green cab. Green cabs are designated to pick up passengers only in the outer boroughs, like Brooklyn and the Bronx. Dont be confused if you dont see many yellow cabs in your neighborhood. With that said, most people opt for the convenience of Uber and Lyft these days.
Brooklyn by Ferry
Ferries used to be a popular way of getting around the city in the early 1900s, but were largely discontinued in the 60s due to declining ridership. Fast forward to 2017, and the ferry began having its renaissance. By 2018, the NYC Ferry attracted9 million annual riders, and that number is only poised to grow as the ferry system continues to expand and new stops are added throughout the city.For those who live along Brooklyns expansive waterfront, the ferry might be the most enjoyable (and quickest!) way to get around in Brooklyn or travel into Manhattan, especially on those hot summer days. You can get a world-class view of Downtown Manhattan, Governors Island, and the Statue of Liberty, all while paying the same fare as you would to take the subway.
Owning a Car in Brooklyn
Without a parking permit system, street parking is tricky but not impossible in Brooklyn.
New York City is the only major city in the country that doesnt have a residential street parking permit system, writesGothamist journalist Stephen Nessen. This makes the parking situation difficult for car owners moving to Brooklyn depending on which neighborhood they settle in. Unless youre willing to spring for a paid parking spot in a garage, which can set you back $200 to $300 a month in most Brooklyn neighborhoods, you will most likely be parking on the street.
In areas with mostly young professionals who prefer getting around by bike or train, street parking can be fairly easy as long as youre mindful of your blocks street sweep schedule, which generally runs twice a week in Brooklyn.
In other more residential and family-oriented neighborhoods where many of the residents own SUVs for getting the kids around, the competition for street parking can be fierce. You may find yourself circling the block more than a few times.
So should you bring a car to Brooklyn?
Owning a car isnt necessary for life in Brooklyn, as you can get anywhere you need to go by subway. But if you choose to bring one, dont worry: parking isnt impossible in Brooklyn. You will just want to become very familiar with the boroughs parking signs andalternate side parking rulesin order to avoid hefty parking fines.
New Resident Tip:
If you want the convenience of accessing a car for a quick trip to the supermarket without the hassle of parking, hourly Car2Go rentals are a popular option in Brooklyn.
4. Brooklyn has a four-season climate, so dress accordingly.
While it may not be as cold as Chicago or as hot as New Orleans, youll be out in the elements far more than you would be in most other cities after moving to Brooklyn. New York City residents oftenwalk morethan people living in any other U.S. city, writes the IBTimes. That goes for Brooklyn as well, so what you wear is very important.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must for every season. Bring a lot of themNew York City is notorious for wearing out shoes, since youll be pounding the pavement daily. Youll also want an umbrella on hand, as it rains often in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn has four distinct seasons, and youll want appropriate clothing for each of them:
A warm, waterproof winter coat is a must-have, along with hats, gloves, and scarves. Thermals are also a great idea, as they help to cut down the chill on those extra windy days. You will also want some snow boots. While Brooklyn doesnt get a ton of snow accumulation like other cities in the Midwest, it can get very slushy, and no one wants wet feet when commuting to work.
In spring, layering is essential, since the weather can be chilly and unpredictable well into the season. Youll want to wear long sleeves, sweaters, and pants until about April. Itll rain often, so be sure to bring a rain jacket or a trench coat with you.
While May into June are pleasantly warm, it quickly gets hot and humid in Brooklyn by July through mid-September. That means youll want to stock shorts, tank tops, light pants, and sundresses for your summers in Brooklyn. Just be sure to save your flip flops for your trips to Coney IslandNew Yorkers generally avoid wearing flip flops around the neighborhood, as they break easily and dont protect your feet from debris on the concrete. Opt for sneakers or sandals instead.
Theres a reason Autumn in New York is a jazz standard. The fall is one of the most pleasant seasons in New York, with bright blue skies and refreshing temperatures that are perfect for walking all around Brooklyn. A peacoat, scarf, and some comfortable boots are all that youll need until November.
New Resident Tip:
Many Brooklyn locals rent self-storage units for their off-season clothing and gear. Exploreseasonal self-storage options in Brooklynwith Life Storage and use our space calculator to figure out how much space youll need.
5. Brooklyn is a true melting pot for foodies.
Brooklyn is a true melting pot, and you can see this best in the countless ethnic cuisines that are represented throughout the borough. From Jamaican jerk chicken and roti in Crown Heights to dim sum in Sunset Parks Little Fuzhou, to sticky-sweet baklava in Sheepshead Bay, anything you have a craving for can be found in Brooklyn. New restaurants are constantly popping up, so theres always a new spot to try out for a date night, family meal, or an evening out with friends.
With that said, sometimes you want to stick to the classics. There are a number of iconic restaurants in Brooklyn that have been serving generations of loyal diners.
Iconic Brooklyn Restaurants
- Nathans Famous:This international food chain has humble beginnings as a beachfront restaurant on Coney Island that opened in 1916. Today, Nathans is a landmark and the first destination for beach-goers who want to celebrate the start of summer with a good old fashioned hot dog.
- Bamontes:This is one of the citys oldest restaurants, dating back to 1900. Bamontes is considered a true New York institution and the place to go for classic red-sauce, white-tablecloth Italian dining. One of the restaurantsbeloved waitershas been working at the restaurant for over 40 years.
- Juniors Restaurant:Open since 1950, Juniors is best known for its world-famous cheesecakes, but thats not the only reason you should go. The restaurants old-school diner ambiance and Jewish deli classics like pastrami sandwiches make it an institution all its own.
- Toms Restaurant:This family-owned restaurant has been around since 1940, delivering delicious old-school diner classics like egg creams and cherry-lime rickets to Brooklyns Prospect Heights neighborhood. Youll come for the all-day breakfast, but youll stick around for the fun retro kitschy decor. Just be sure to get there early on the weekends.
More Brooklyn Food Favorites
Brooklyn is particularly well-known for its Italian foodespecially its pizza. Whether you like a crispy thin crust pizza or a soft pillowy Sicilian slice, youll find what youre craving in Brooklyn at famous pizza establishments like L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Totonnos in Coney Island, and Di Faras Pizza in Midwood. The best pizzeria in Brooklyn is a hotly contested issue among long-time residents, so youll just have to visit all of them and decide for yourself.
And for those who plan their weekends around food,Smorgasburgis not to be missed. You can find it on Saturdays on the Williamsburg waterfront and on Sundays in Prospect Park during the summer, and indoors in Williamsburg during the winter. Smorgasburg features over 100 local vendors every weekend, so you can enjoy an excellent meal while supporting local and small businesses.
6. Parks and recreation in Brooklyn are far from a concrete jungle.
One of the things people love most after moving to Brooklyn is its abundance of green spaces. After a hectic day at work in Manhattan, these parks are an oasis of calm.
Manhattan is famous for Central Park, but if you ask most Brooklynites, Prospect Park is the place to be. Built in 1867, Prospect Parks 90 acres include the boroughs only lake, a zoo, soccer fields, baseball fields, Litchfield Villa, and the Boathouse and Picnic House, both of which are popular wedding venues for trendy Brooklyn couples. The park is home to the Bandshell, which hosts free outdoor concerts every summer. Prospect Park is more rugged and wooded than Central Park, making it a popular place to seek serenity and escape from the hustle and bustle.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
This 85-acre park runs along the East River waterfront in Brooklyn Heights. The park is divided into multiple piers, all with their own sports facilities, art installations, lawns, terraces, and playgrounds for kids. Explore greenways, gardens, beaches, and restaurants, all without ever leaving Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Green-Wood Cemetery isnt technically a park, but it feels like one with its beautiful rolling green hills. Did you know that in the 1800s, Green-Wood Cemetery was one of Americas most popular tourist destinations, attracting 500,000 visitors a year? Day-trippers and tourists came to picnic and walk the shaded winding paths of Green-Wood, writes6sqftjournalist Lucie Levine. In fact, by 1860, the cemetery welcomed over 500,000 visitors per year, making it the second most popular attraction in all of New York State. Today, Green-Wood Cemetery still draws crowds of people who want to take in the sights and spot one of the cemeterysfamous parrots.
And dont forget about Brooklyns beach scene. There are three beaches, all in Southern Brooklyn:
This beach needs no introduction. Famous for its Wonder Wheel, Luna Park, and its annual Mermaid Parade and 4th of July hot dog eating contest, Coney Island draws millions of visitors every year. Spend a day relaxing on the beach, and then have a great meal on Coney Islands boardwalk.
Located to the east of Coney Island, Brighton Beach is a quieter alternative to Coney Island. Known by locals as Little Odessa for the neighborhoods Russian enclave, Brighton Beach offers great Russian dining right on the boardwalk.
Manhattan Beach is a favorite among families in South Brooklyn. This is the least accessible of the three beaches, but for those willing to travel, you can enjoy a quieter, less crowded beach experience.
7. You dont have to leave Brooklyn to enjoy excellent shopping.
There are so many things to do in Brooklyn, and shopping is certainly one of them. Sixth Avenue in Manhattan may be one of the citys premier shopping destinations, but Brooklyn offers a shopping experience all its own, with everything from high-end designer shops and thrift stores to artisanal shops that sell only cheese.
Fulton Mall is less of a suburban shopping mall and more of a long pedestrian street lined with shops and eateries. Its considered one of Brooklyns top shopping districts, and you can find major retailers like Macys, H&M, Gap, and Modells Sporting Goods.
Not far from Fulton Mall is City Point, an enormous new development in Downtown Brooklyn that houses a Target, Century 21, New York Citys very first Alamo Drafthouse, a Trader Joes, and more. But thats not all: if you go into the basement of City Point, youll find DeKalb Market Hall, a food hall with dozens of famous and diverse NYC vendors, including Katzs Deli, Fletchers BBQ, Ample Hills Creamery, and the Arepa Lady.
The Atlantic Terminal was supposed to be the site of a giant baseball stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the plan fell through in the 50s. Today, its a multi-level shopping mall located across the street from the Barclays Center, with a Target, Victorias Secret, Bath & Body Works, Burlington Coat Factory, and a Marshalls. And since theres a subway station in the basement, Atlantic Terminal is easy to get to for quick shopping chores.
The Original Century 21
Did you know the original Century 21 was founded in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn? The store is still there on 86th Street, and it offers shoppers from all over the world major bargains on designer clothing and fine European accessoriesif youre willing to rummage a little to find them!
Open in Red Hook since 2008, IKEA is the ultimate shopping destination for Brooklynites seeking affordable and apartment-friendly furniture. In fact, this IKEA is so popular that it has its own water taxi from Manhattan. But for those in Brooklyn without a car, the best way to get to IKEA is by taking one of the free shuttle buses from Park Slope or Borough Halljust make sure you can fit your IKEA haul on the shuttle bus on the way back home!
If you prefer to get away from the big box stores, Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights are the neighborhoods to visit. These neighborhoods are famous for their independent boutiques for fashion-forward and eco-conscious shoppers, artisanal shops and craft stores for the perfect one-of-a-kind gift, as well as thrift and vintage troves for those looking for the perfect retro touch for their home.
New Resident Tip:
Keep an eye out for the famousBrooklyn Fleamarket on weekends. The Brooklyn Flea changes locations depending on the season, so follow the Brooklyn Flea on social media to figure out where it will be this week. Youll find hundreds of vendors for furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques there!
8. Brooklyn has amazing museums.
Manhattan may be famous for its Museum Mile, but you dont have to head into the city to immerse yourself in art. Brooklyn has a number of renowned institutions that will fill your weekends with beauty and culture, including:
Founded in Prospect Heights, the Brooklyn Museum is a world-famous landmark and the third largest museum in New York City. The museums collection is massive, with over1.5 million works of art including Egyptian antiquities, Japanese art, and American art from the Colonial period. You will literally never run out of art to see there.
Located just a short walk away from the Brooklyn Museum is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre botanical garden that attracts nearly a million visitors each year. Its famous for its bonsai collection, climate-themed plant pavilions, rose garden, and its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. It has more than 200 cherry trees, making it the most popularcherry blossom viewingsite outside of Japan.
Train nerds, children, and vintage fans alike will have a blast at the New York Transit Museum, located in Downtown Brooklyn. The museum is housed in a circa-1936 subway station and has rotating exhibits and a collection of restored trains. During the holidays, you can take a ride on one of the museums vintage 1930s subway cars for a truly old-school New York experience thats fun for the whole family.
The Museum of Food & Drink is the worlds first museum dedicated exclusively to, you guessed it, food! Founded in 2015 in Williamsburg, MOFAD is the place to be for foodies, and the museum is dedicated to inspiring chefs, preserving endangered regional cuisines, and educating people about how the food they eat is produced and distributed.
If you want to truly immerse yourself in the history of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Historical Society is the place to go. Visit the famous Othmer Library and see historical documents, including maps and atlases of Brooklyn. This museum is also a popular wedding venue for couples seeking a refined backdrop for their big day.
Planning on Moving to Brooklyn, New York?
Whether youre moving to experience life in a new city, relocating with your family, or making a career change, youll be charmed by Brooklyns culture and diversity. In a borough this big, youll never run out of places to explore and people to meet.
No matter where youre moving from, youll likely need some help storing your bigger, bulkier itemsespecially in a borough like Brooklyn, where space is at a premium. Life Storage offersself-storage optionsfor all the items in your life that wont fit in your small Brooklyn closet.