Moving beyond Park Slope

Are you currently agonizing over moving out of the ‘hood and exploring what options there are beyond Park Slope?

 

While Park Slope is frequently listed as one of the city’s best neighborhood to live in, it can unfortunately come at a price. Whether it’s because of high rents, needing more space and simply wanting more bang for your buck - here are some tips and ideas parents have shared about moving out of the ‘Hood.  And fortunately, there are plenty of spots that are a skip and a jump from Park Slope!


As one parent asks the Group:

With a heavy heart (and rising rent) we are contemplating moving outside the Slope. We need at least 3-bedrooms (or 2+ an office) for $2000 or less, near outdoor space (we have a large dog), within an hour commute of midtown. Ideally, with a decent public pre-K too.

What do you suggest?


Neighborhoods recommended

in Brooklyn:

Marine Park

Bay Ridge

Kensington

Ditmas Park

Flatbush

Sunset Park

Brighton Beach

In NY:

Westchester

New Rochelle

 Scarsdale

 

in Queens:

Woodside

Sunnyside 

 

in NJ:

Jersey City

Weehawken

Maplewood

Princeton

 

Responses:

 

Within NYC:

 

Marine Park

“Marine Park; for $2,000 you can get a house with a front yard, back yard, driveway, two floors and a basement. Most are three bedrooms probably with a fourth or office in the basement. Marine Park is the home of the largest park in Brooklyn which has free kayaking in the Summer. It's also home to the oldest grain mill in the western hemisphere and one of the oldest homes in all of Brooklyn. If you're close to Flatbush Avenue, Avenue S or Quentin Road you can easily walk to purchase anything you need. There's also Aviator nearby which offers Olympic class gymnastics, two ice rinks and year round soccer.” 

 

Bayridge

“Have you looked into Bay Ridge? It's just beyond Sunset Park, but has great schools, parks, and is an hour or less commute to midtown on the train or express bus. Rent prices are way cheaper than the Slope and there are plenty of places that have outdoor space, as the housing stock is more varied.”

“Consider bay ridge... There is a big park with a dog run... Good public schools ... Lots of stores and restaurants on 3rd, 4th & 5th avenues & 86th street.”

“I'll go ahead and plug Bay Ridge as well. We lived in the western part of Windsor Terrace/south Slope (17/PPW) until 6 years ago, our ceiling collapsed and we have a one year old and a rental and an unhelpful landlord and I wanted to move ANYWHERE else in Brooklyn, so we started looking, found a 3-family house in Bay Ridge and a 2-family house in eastern Windsor Terrace and the rental income in Bay Ridge and house size was much better for basically the same price. Parking much better in WT, restaurants/stores/amenities much better in Bay Ridge. Further commute but still an hour from where I work midtown (sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes worse than an hour but on average, an hour, now better with the free uptown transfer at Broadway/Lafayette from the B/D to the 6), and better for people who work on the west side or Union Square area.

I've found in Bay Ridge that the schools are pretty good, some stronger than others, it's a strong public school population and parents tend to be pretty committed and involved, plus the food and stores are fantastic. And people seem pretty happy with District 20 middle schools (I don't know about the high schools yet). It has two good public libraries, both recently renovated. It has decent housing stock and relatively inexpensive apartments. Parking is a challenge but not impossible (most of the time). And in the past six years, two CSAs have been founded and are up and running and a food coop startup has gotten to the buying club stage (and people who volunteer with it get FTOP credit at the Park Slope Food Coop, which is helpful). We have a 24-hour store and an excellent fruit store on our corner, many bagel places and bakeries within a few blocks away, a party store on our corner, an excellent pizza place on our corner - conveniences are not a problem. If you live closer to Shore Road perhaps they are farther away but on the 3rd-5th Avenue corridors you're surrounded by everything.  I've also found in Bay Ridge that there's a big community of former Slopers along with a very diverse population that includes, in the past six years, a stronger Asian population (I note that nearby Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst have become more heavily Asian along with the more traditional Russian and somewhat Italian populations). There are also strong Muslim populations and Polish, Greek, etc., plus the old-timers (there's a Norwegian Day Parade once a year).  We also looked in Ditmas Park, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, Kensington, Maplewood and other places I forget - Ditmas was great but it was more house than we needed and now prices are much higher. Some of your decision may be, what type of rental or purchase is on the market when you are looking.”

"In 2012 we moved from Crown Heights to Bay Ridge.  At the time we were in a 2 bedroom condo and we wanted to be in a good school district with more space.  We desperately wanted to move to Park Slope but found we were priced out.  After some painful Park Slope Open Houses, my husband suggested Bay Ridge and we looked at the house that is now our home.  I am so thrilled we moved to Bay Ridge.  I was really nervous about it being "too far" and "too conservative" but I have found it to be just the pposite.  If anything, I find it more diverse than Park Slope.  There are just as many kid-centered activities.  The families are open and inviting and I have made friends with moms just by walking down the street. We did a lot of research on the schools before we moved and we feel fortunate to be in a district with many different types of schools, all with solid leaders and educators.  You can never predict how your child will take to a school, but we feel like we have a good start and good options if choice A doesn't work out.  The restaurants, cafes, and shops are awesome and plentiful. I used to mourn the loss of Park Slope and its surrounding neighborhoods (I still miss Prospect Park), but I have come to love Bay Ridge and couldn't be happier about our choice to move there. Also, for the same money that a two bedroom apartment would have cost us in Park Slope we afforded a house in Bay Ridge."

"Hi we moved from south slope to bay ridge 7 years ago. We bought a multi family so convenient to subway big time and stores and restaurants and parks - hardest thing is parking but it is still better than the slope these days. We do public school in bensonhurst so use the school bus and drive for after school pickup but closer schools are good too. With rental income we end up paying about what we paid to rent 7 years ago in south slope / western windsor terrace and had we stayed we could never have been paying that little."

"We moved to Bay Ridge 3.5 years ago when we had our first daughter and needed more space. We've never looked back. Our rent went down substantially, and we've found the neighborhood to be very pleasant and liveable. It's safe, family-oriented, has trees and restaurants--and there's been an influx of trendiness recently...a hip wine bar, a Brooklyn Industries store, a beer garden... We actually know our neighbors, and it feels more like a real community with deep roots. Many families have been in the neighborhood for generations. There are good playgrounds and activities for kids, and also Park Slope is still relatively close by if there's something you miss. Some downsides are the long commute (we mostly work from home, but it could be a drag to go into the city every day), not having Prospect Park,that it's hard to find pet-friendly apartments, and that many places don't have dishwashers or washers and dryers (fear of water damage)... Also, you would want to research the schools closely because I think some are stronger than others. We are now actually beginning to plan a move to the suburbs because we had another baby and decided we would prefer even MORE space and more quiet! I always thought we were city people, but now I'm not sure we are. I've noticed this seems to be the trend with most parents I have met here who moved from Park Slope or other such areas. Once the next kid is born, they move to the suburbs where maybe the quality of life is a little better--or at least your money goes a little further."

"The only adjustment is missing friends we made in park slope but we are close enough to schedule play dates. As opposed to the quick text to say hey heading to playground down the block if you want to meet up! etc. We think that will be happening in Bay Ridge soon enough as we meet new families over here. We didn't want to go the Westchester route.... However if we did Larchmont/ Mamaroneck area is quite nice. We also researched up by Whitestone in Queens because of the great schools but it was a bit to suburban feeling for us. You absolutely need 2 cars kind of thing. As far as Maplewood in NJ (which is popular for PS movers) it was too close to Newark and the Oranges for us. You literally could wind up neighboring horrible areas.  So Bay Ridge.....We still attend our activity classes outside of Bay Ridge because the train is very accessible. (Mark Morris and 9th St. YMCA) Great options for schools both public (research District 20 and zoning when looking to move) as well as private options. Plenty of neighborhood activities during the warm months in the local parks. Children classes offered locally in all types of ranges (baby yoga, soccer to art etc.). Great library and not overcrowded like Central at Grand Army or 6th Ave in Park Slope. As far as commuting to Manhattan. The express N / D train comes all the way to 59th then it's local R to go up to 95th St. They also started a Ferry from 59th St. pier that goes to lower Manhattan due to tunnel closure on R line. Also, there are Xpress buses that cost more money to the city. The community is diverse, we are a interracial family and feel quite comfortable. It is a wonderful, family friendly neighborhood!"

 

Kensington:

“People do it all the time! I did. Of course I would've loved to have stayed in the cocoon of Park Slope but it just wasn't feasible anymore with a kid and wanting to have more living space.

Check out Kensington, prices are lower it's still really close to the Park. It does feel like the suburbs...good or bad that's up to you.”

 

Ditmas Park:

"We actually left the Slope for Ditmas Park in order to have more space (growing family plus visiting step kids) yet still be on the subway. The pluses for us
are that we have an excellent school that is close by and have found a great community of like-minded people. And it's still got amenities, though less than
in the Slope. Classes never fill up, we don't wait in lines for karate or music, etc. There's a couple CSAs, a couple healthy markets, that sort of thing.

We haven't moved to the suburbs, despite the less expensive housing, for various reasons. My husband can't commit to traveling on train timetable but really
likes to be able to hop a subway any time between 6-9 to get home from his midtown office. We like to be able to walk to shops and activities, bars and
restaurants, see friends at the farmer's market and museum openings, all those urban amenities. Another reason is that once you add the expense of the commuter
train plus subway, the extra car you need because in the suburbs you are dependent on private wheels (if one breaks, you can't possibly be without wheels
for a day or two), and most of all the extraordinarily high taxes, I'm not sure you actually save that much more. Yes, daycare may be less, but really it's only
the first 5 years of your kids' life that have high daycare expenses. Also, if you are city folk, you'll want to hire extra babysitters to allow you to enjoy
the amenities in the city even when you live in the suburbs, so you'll spend more on those too.

And interestingly, my eldest (now 18 and in college) THANKED ME for raising her in the city. She said she had less need to get into trouble because there was so much to do and she had such freedom of movement being a city kid. From college she has reported about the other kids as being shockingly immature, making consistently poor decisions, being terrified of their sudden independence, and increased use of drugs/sex/alcohol. I believe her, since she has no reason to give me a line--she studies in Scotland, so it's not like I'll find out she's been lying. She just honestly can't believe how different her NY friends are from everyone else. And another thing is that she tells me she cannot imagine living anywhere else. Which means I'll be able to spend time with my grandkids down the line a plus to me!

So it's a fair consideration, but one that needs to be balanced by lifestyle and long-term choices. For us, staying in the city is the right decision, and worth the short-term financial anxiety."

 

Flatbush:

“We have a beautiful detach home in Flatbush. Out street is very quiet and I love our driveway. Our mortgage is less than $2500 monthly.
My kids attend school in Park Slope but the prices are outrageous!”

Sunset Park:

“Sunset park is great.”

"We are happy in Sunset Park. Not using our zoned school but very surprisingly, it turned out not to be that difficult to get a seat at a great public school that's a very short commute by car/train/bike. Sunset has two express trains, the N and the D -- you're in Manhattan in two stops. Easy to meet your Park Slope consumer needs via bike or 5th Ave bus. Easier parking than either Bay Ridge for sure. Beautiful park and historic cemetery, best view in Brooklyn, Chinese & Mexican food in abundance, big public pool and sprinkler area (under renovation at the moment)."

 

Brighton Beach:

“Try Brighton Beach- Q,B, F trains with great schools. There is the beach and the boardwalk, tons of playgrounds, Asser Levy Park, the Aquarium. Plus lots of produce markets, Key Food, Net Cost markets-- all of them at a much lesser prices

While the community is predominantly Russian, I find it the only downside of living here. We moved into this area in 2008 from Ditmas Park because we were priced out and not willing to pay over $2000 in rent for a one bedroom. We have a spacious 2 bd for $1600. live a block away from Ocean Pkwy stop and 2 blocks away from the boardwalk. Within 2-10 min walking we have 10 different playgrounds, which I love. Mark Twain and Ezra Keats International Schools are
within minutes away.

Even though it is a bit far, it takes anywhere between 45-60 min on a subway to TSQ, but it's worth it to us. Peaceful, beautiful neighborhood that could benefit from a bit ethnic diversity... ( we are neither Russian nor Jewish).

There are plenty of new developments, and affordable condos if you are ready to buy.

All in all-- we love BB! The air is so much cleaner here and in the summer you save money on A/C too!”

 

Franklin Ave:

"I lived in PS years ago, moved to Prospect Heights and Bay Ridge, and am now on Franklin Ave (sandwiched between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights). Of all the places I've lived, I LOVED PS and Prospect Heights (but probably because it's basically just really far North Slope, as far as I was concerned - still within walking distance of anything I wanted in the Slope). Naturally, we're priced out of both of those neighborhoods now that we're a family of four. Bay Ridge was fine, but it's SO spread out that it didn't feel quite so neighborhoody as PS does. There are pockets of Slope-ish people and shops and restaurants, but there are also very Jersey-Shoreish places - one of my husband's oft-heard BR rants is about a homophobic incident he saw on 3rd Ave at 73rd. Not saying all the people in the Ridge are like that, obviously, but there's more of that element there than I've ever seen in the Slope. All that said, there are crap people everywhere and you could probably just find your own group to hang out with there. My landlord at the time loves the area, and she's also happy with the schools there. (Our daughter was way too young to use it at the time.) We didn't love it, though, although the prices can't be beat. Helps if you have a car, too, as the R train is a simply brutal commute. Took me an hour to get from Bay Ridge Avenue to midtown, and that was during rush hour. My husband and works the swing shift, and it would often take him more than 2 hours to do the one-way trip - you get bogged down by the transfer at 59th Street. When we went through this last January, we also thought about Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Prospect-Lefferts Garden, and Ditmas Park. Didn't get very far with those 'hoods, but I imagine we'll be revisiting again soon."

 

Within NY, outside of NYC:

 

Scarsdale:

"While we didn't move permanently from Park Slope, for the past year and a half we've been living and commuting from Scarsdale (in Westchester).  We have met some nice young families,enjoyed the neighborhood swimming pool and taken some fun classes (Music Together, for example) here.  Still, the commute on Metro North to the City can be rough.  Also, as cute as the little "village" of Scarsdale can be, most of the stores/restaurants close so early (not like in Brooklyn where many places stay open past 8pm) that we rarely get to enjoy them.  Also, there's a car culture and few/no sidewalks, so the whole dynamic is just different.  School system is supposed to be very good (our daughter is only 3, so we don't know first hand about that).  Also, I don't know if you're seeking a particularly diverse community, but Scarsdale is hardly diverse racially/ethnically.  So, while this short stint has been fine (lots of green space! no crowds at the playground! big supermarkets for groceries!), this place can't touch the spirit and energy of Brooklyn.  Just my two cents."

 

Westchester:

"We moved to northern Westchester 6 months ago and have never looked back. I lived in the city for 20 years-- 4 in Manhattan and 16 in Park Slope, and even though I adored the Slope and miss my friends, the move was absolutely the right choice. We LOVE our house, the quiet and beauty are unparalleled, and best of all, you can actually DO ANYTHING YOU WANT WITH YOUR KIDS and never have to worry about epic crowds or major hassles. It has been a major adjustment-- driving everywhere, learning a new place, new people, etc., but we expected that. We have none of the anxiety of living in the city with kids and not knowing what we'll do for school-- around here, you just sign your kids up for whatever preschool you like and that's it, they're in. Public school is the same-- they're all outstanding, and your child is guaranteed a spot until college. For what it's worth, the mortgage on our 2700 square foot house on nearly an acre of land is barely higher than the mortgage on our 2 BR apartment! Yes, the taxes are much higher, but it's cheaper than private school any day."

"We love Westchester. It's got some great little towns that make it an easy transition from the conveniences of the city. Our first place was a rental in Mamroneck. We were at the Avalon Willow complex. The location is great for walking to downtown Mamaroneck and it's also walking distance to the train station. The walls are not sound proof but as long as you don't have a neighbor that plays base guitar you should be fine. We have now moved just across the border from Mamaroneck into New Rochelle and purchased a home. We are a short drive to Mamaroneck, Larchmont and Scarsdale - all of which have a great town centers.Commute is short for living outside the city. On the child care front - I am finding limited choices for under 18 months but there are options. I think nannies must be a bit more common."

 

New Rochelle:

"The one thing i do know about New Rochelle is that the town itself has some pretty so-so areas and homeowners tend to live away from the downtown. But of course being in town is easier for commuting and that’s probably where the rentals are. Even though it is a long way off, I would do my research on schools and school districts and make sure the rentals are in school districs you want to be in."

"I grew up in New Rochelle and my mother grew up in Larchmont. Both areas are great!  I lived in Bayberry (North end near Larchmont).  I would say there are many similarities to both - big suburban cities with a variety of types of housing and a huge mix of ethnicities. Both have very respectable schools and easy commutes. I loved growing up in New Rochelle - my community had a small pool and tons of kids, it was and still is very safe for kids to play outside."

 

New Jersey:

 

Jersey City:

“Also consider Jersey City - 2 families who used to live in Bay Ridge moved to Jersey City in the past 1-2 years and LOVE it. one bought an adorable condo with a terrace, another bought a fixer upper house and has fixed it up, it's really nice, one has her son in a charter school and I think the other is in Catholic school, they have new friends there and have kept their Brooklyn friends and where they live reminds me of the cutest areas in Philadelphia, yet I'm told a MUCH better commute than a lot of Brooklyn. One of the friends goes out in Manhattan all the time and says it's so much easier now.”

 

Montclair:

We are purchasing a house in Montclair, NJ and so far are extremely excited with our decision. We are getting a 3BR/2BA single family house with a yard, garage, basement, attic, etc for under $450k. We will be within walking distance to a 4-block retail stretch and the NJ Transit commuter trains to Penn Station (45 min ride), and there are lots of former Brooklynites so the general community attitude is progressive and friendly. There are MANY opportunities for socializing with my toddler...a YMCA family center, a Kidville branch, a local Yahoo listserv like PSP (montclairmommies) and free library programs. The town has the only public Montessori elementary school in the state and the other schools are well regarded. The only downside is the high property taxes, which you run into in NY too. We also considered Maplewood, NJ which is similar...there just weren't as many house listings to choose from. Now that the winter is upon us, there are far fewer available as there will be in the spring."

 

Weehawken:

“Consider New Jersey - Weehawken or Hoboken. I live in Weehawken with my two kids. Benefits: within your budget; pleasant residential neighborhood with plenty of trees, walk to get your cup of coffee or gallon of milk, way closer to mid-town than anything in Brooklyn (although perhaps not quicker, from say, Brooklyn Heights but astonishingly quick after living in Park Slope for 11 years - after 3 yrs, I am still not used to it!), decent public schools far beyond pre-k (and noooo stress re which school your kid will be going to, applying to middle school etc). And the list goes on.  I find Hoboken to be very pleasant and more like Park Slope if you are looking for that: more expensive than Weehawken (but cheaper than Park Slope); I understand the school situation is way more like NYC than Weehawken (have to go through efforts to find and get in to schools you'd feel are acceptable enough); also more urban like Park Slope - more cement, pleasant side streets with brownstones, a good main street with stores etc.”

"I live with my two kids in Weehawken where you can buy an entire house for around 500k, it's a pleasant, safe, quieter neighborhood with plenty of trees, nice playgrounds nearby, Ipublic schools that are more than acceptable (and don't have the same bureaucratic issues as the NYC schools), the municipal govt services I have been exposed to have been amazingly good, and there are classes for kids and adults (although I haven't been able to try them out yet). It feels like a small community in a really nice way socially. A view of the Manhattan skyline is 2 blocks away from my house and public transportation into Manhattan is quick and easy. It doesn't have the same bustling vibe that I loved in Park Slope. But given my needs and priorities these days, it's great."

 

Maplewood:

"Maplewood pros: leafy neighborhood with parks and a great community pool, beautiful old houses, decent school, same kind of artist and family friendly community that the Slope is known for. Cons: property taxes, train takes about 30 mins to manhattan, schools are good but maybe not as good as Montclair's (though Montclair has even higher taxes). I know you didn't mention NJ, but I think many more priced-out Slopers colonize Maplewood and Montclair than any Westchester town, if you're looking for that Slope presence.

 

Princeton:

"We moved to Hopewell, NJ, this past summer. Hopewell is about 10 minutes from Princeton and is a town itself, albeit smaller than Princeton. We live in the Borough, which means in the town center, in walking distance to restaurants, shopping, the library, school, piano lessons, art classes, playgrounds, etc... We bought the house my husband grew up in from his mother because we love it and the whole family wanted it to stay in the family. We lived in Park Slopefor 12 years and loved it. Below is a list of my thoughts in response to your post.

Like is much easier here. Grocery shopping, doctors, errands...it's all faster and easier. I don't mind driving, and I love that parking is not an issue, all the stores are accessible and I can get a ton done in one outing and then load stuff into the trunk, rather than schlepping around with lots of stuff in the city. I can get doctor's appointments in reasonable time-frames. A recent experience getting my daughter's hearing checked at the Princeton location of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was an easy morning exercise, especially compared to the all-day trek that I had to do to the Upper East Side for the same thing a few years ago with my older child.

Getting to the city is easy and we've done it a bunch by train (express trains take under an hour during the week, weekend trains are about 75 mins. from Princeton direct into Penn Station). The drive is only 1 hr. 15 mins.

Tons to do: New Hope, Lambertville, Princeton, Terhune's Orchard, Howell Living Farm, consignment and antique shopping - lots of events have kept us very busy all fall with our two daughters, ages 7 and 4. The school has a carnival in the beginning of the school year, the town has a Harvest Festival in October, there are regular events at the train station, a public space behind our home. At the holidays they had Reindeeer Lane, where kids got to go shop without their parents for gifts costing between $1 and $15 (mostly $1-$3) - super cute. Friends have visited, and every weekend has been full and happy for kids and adults alike. We've seen theater at McCarter in Princeton and the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope.

Kids have more independence: because we have a yard and live in a small town, the kids get to play without constant oversight. In Brooklyn we were either in the apartment or out all together. I had to go to the park with them, of course. Here they can play alone outside in our yard, my daughter can walk home alone from her piano lesson, which is literally steps from our home, and she even is allowed to walk back to our house a couple blocks on her own sometimes. Next year we anticipate our older daughter will probably start walking to and from school with friends.

The school is AMAZING. I've seen over 60 schools professionally, so I've got pretty high standards. I've worked in and seen a lot of beautiful NYC independent and boarding schools. Hopewell Elementary, where my daughter is now in 2nd grade, is a community school, intimate, warm, and friendly. The facility is spectacular. The library is huge. The classrooms have everything. Her teacher is beyond phenomenal. They have a computer lab and a climbing wall in the gym. The curriculum is thoughtful and student-centered. The kids had an introduction to coding last week. The school librarian is a parent and Princeton graduate. There is definitely more diversity than I expected, which I was pleasantly surprised by. The school does a ton of community service, so there is a purposeful acknowledgement that not everyone lives with privilege, and it's clear that not everyone at the school is super wealthy. There are people with plenty, but there are also more middle class and even some lower income families. I could go on...

We've met, and in some cases reconnected with, some lovely, grounded parents, some of whom have come from NYC/Brooklyn to be here. We can host family & friends. We now finally have enough space to host guests for more than a day, comfortably. This has been fun for our kids and for us.

My daughter's private Montessori preschool is excellent in terms of teachers and curriculum. That said, the parent body is largely very affluent so there's a bit of a divide between more showy parents and more understated families.
I definitely miss my friends and knowing everyone on the streets. Moving comes with building a new community, and that's the hardest part for me. But I think that would happen anywhere. I've started to meet people, for sure, and my kids and part-time work keep my busy enough that I'm not wallowing and just living life and confident that relationships will continue to build and form over time."

 

Resources:

http://www.bklynorbeyond.com/ - an entire blog and listserv for people agonizing over moving out of Brooklyn

Read More PSP tips on Moving