Ruling out living in the center of Manhattan because there were just a shortage of affordable options there, I started to look at a map. I wanted a NYC address and limited my options to Brooklyn and Queens. However in my research, there were other places that also seemed plausible but I did not explore.
Hoboken/Jersey City/Weehawken (New Jersey)
Good New Jersey options for those that commute to midtown and lower Manhattan.
Inwood/Washington Heights (Manhattan)
Residential Feel while still living in Manhattan with affordable options.
Stapleton/St. George (Staten Island)
New developments to attract a younger audience, but need to take a 30 minute ferry and not quite there yet in terms of activity.
In Brooklyn, I was immediately drawn to Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg. They have local restaurants, safety and lots of events. The proximity to transit made commutes easy as well. Unfortunately, the prices there were also very high. In Greenpoint, the neighborhoods had a very nice residential feel, but I did not like the fact that there was only the G line serving that area which made commuting a hassle. However, pricing is reasonable. Fort Greene is also a viable solution but hard for commutes. Some of the more creative solutions included Bushwick and East Williamsburg, but safety also drops the more you go east.
In Queens, Long Island City's high rises looked amazing and captured my attention. However, the distance to the train was a huge turnoff and not worth the sacrifice. Being young in my career, convenience was paramount. Flushing was too far and the 7 Train is not reliable. Sunnyside had a lot of character because of the many restaurants and markets but relied on the 7 Train. Elmhurst, Woodside and Jackson Heights were great options on the R M lines. Many of those neighborhoods also had 7 Train access and the quirks of living in a quaint neighborhood. Roosevelt Avenue has a great corridor of South East Asian and Latin cuisine. Main Street in Flushing and Broadway Ave in Elmhurst has many Asian options for food. Maspeth had a small American old town feel, but the lack of subway access without a bus transfer ruled that option out. Eventually, I settled on Astoria because of the N and Q train access made commuting easy. Also, there is a lot of Sidewalk Life as Jane Jacobs puts it. Plenty of 24 hour convenience stores, bars and markets which made late night adventures very palatable. Steinway Street, 30th Ave, Broadway Ave, and Ditmars Ave are often bustling into the wee hours of the night and there is plenty of diversity.
As a kid from Brooklyn, I felt Queens was a great option to call home. I'm going to start a series of blog posts about each small community in Queens. And with future requests, expand to the other boroughs.