Manhattan Rents Beckon Brooklynites
About a month ago, Philip Bjerknes, an advertising executive who has lived in Brooklyn for six years, made a surprising discovery: He could get an apartment in Alphabet City for less than he was paying in Williamsburg.
“I lived [in Williamsburg] for the postindustrial charm or the affordability and neither of those really exist anymore,” said Mr. Bjerknes, 27 years old. “I love Brooklyn. It’s adorable, with great places to eat, but they also have that in Manhattan.”
Indeed, Mr. Bjerknes in 2006 joined the torrent of young professionals who have fled to Brooklyn in search of affordability and helped transform neighborhoods like Park Slope, Cobble Hill and much of Williamsburg into pleasant, restaurant-filled enclaves.
Now, prices in those neighborhoods often have risen so much that some in Brooklyn are making the reverse move to Manhattan. With the mean rent for a studio in Williamsburg topping $2,700, apartment hunters are likely to find cheaper places in Greenwich Village, where mean studio rents for non-doorman buildings are just more than $2,500 a month, according to June figures from MNS, a real-estate company. That’s true even though Manhattan apartments tend to be more cramped than those in Brooklyn.
And rents in Brooklyn are rising faster than their Manhattan counterparts, meaning the pricing gap in many top neighborhoods is likely to become even more marked.
To be sure, as Brooklyn rents rise, only a lucky handful can afford to move back to Manhattan. Others are more likely to push deeper into southern Brooklyn—where mean studio rents in Bay Ridge, for example, remain just $1,200 a month. Other people may start looking to Queens or the Bronx.
Indeed, it raises broader concerns about affordability in the city—where Brooklyn neighborhoods that once provided a release valve for Manhattan pricing continued to become more expensive even through much of the downturn.
In many Brooklyn neighborhoods, “the rent just keeps going up and up, even in the sluggish economy, even in the slight downturn in the housing market,” according to Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future. “For a lot of people that turned to Brooklyn in part because it was a little of a bargain, I think they’re being forced to look elsewhere,” he said.Magazine · Newspaper · Rental Market Report