LIVING among the skyscrapers of central Manhattan or the spacious brownstones of Greenwich village is often the British idea of New York living – in the same way that Kensington and Knightsbridge are every American’s idea of London. Yet New Yorkers in the know consider other boroughs, particularly Brooklyn and Queens, as clever and rather trendier alternatives. Of course, if you’ve got the cash, you might well go for Manhattan with its classic glamour and non-stop heartbeat – not to mention its proximity to Wall Street. According to Housingwatch.com, a US property website, the median sale price of apartments in Manhattan is $900,000 (£582,672). Even if you’re not thinking of buying a pad for $44m – the selling price for a townhouse at 1009 Fifth Avenue bought by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim – you’re looking at close to $1m for a nice place.
More and more professionals are heading out to Brooklyn – once the stomping ground of hipsters. It’s not cheap by any means, particularly the brownstone fields of Williamsburg, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights. The average price of properties in Brooklyn from June to August 2010 was $593,869 (£384,467) – hardly a snip, but certainly cheaper than much of Manhattan, particularly the ritzy upper portion and the hipster Lower East Side. Williamsburg is like Hoxton or Shoreditch but with better food – many of the flats have roof terraces with brilliant skyline views of Manhattan. Park Slope saw massive gentrification in the 1990s, and is now one of Brooklyn’s most expensive areas with its restored Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque mansions. Buggies abound.
Brooklyn Heights is also home to some impressive Victorian-style brick – famous residents include the late Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller; actors Jennifer Connelly and Gabriel Byrne are current A-list residents. Queens – New York’s easternmost borough and its largest in space – is the next place undergoing Brooklyn-style gentrification. Prices are on average lower than in Brooklyn but not by a huge amount. Queens locals are not entirely happy about the area’s gentrification, with one website called “Queens Crap – a website focused on the overdevelopment and ‘tweeding’ of the borough of Queens”.