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Best of New York: Top neighborhoods to hunt for new digs

Sunset Park, Brooklyn. (Steven Sunshine)

Sunset Park, Brooklyn. (Steven Sunshine) Credit: Sunset Park, Brooklyn. (Steven Sunshine)

It's no secret that Williamsburg, Park Slope, the Village and the Upper West and East sides of Manhattan seem to be the perennial go-to spots for apartment hunters. But there are plenty of other neighborhoods around the city that are a little below the radar and worthy of equal attention.

We spoke with real estate experts from across the five boroughs to put together a list of up-and-comers, hidden gems and cute neighborhoods you need to learn more about.


Developments popping up along Frederick Douglass Boulevard are drawing more attention to South Harlem.

New businesses are also opening up in the area, defying the economic recession and restoring confidence in the local neighborhood, said Aash Jethra of Citi Habitats.

"It's a really good spot for first-time homebuyers" and renters, Jethra said. "There are a lot of people who rent on the Upper West Side and then realize they can buy this great condo in a luxury building in Harlem."

The average rent for a one-bedroom in South Harlem is $1,844, according to Citi Habitats, $2,131 for a two-bedroom, and $3,020 for a three.

The median price of one-bedroom co-ops in the area listed on is $175,000, and $442,000 for a condo.


The historic, pre-war buildings, coupled with the cultural diversity and accessibility of public transportation, make Jackson Heights an attractive place for residents who enjoy the fast pace of the city.

"You could hit a different restaurant almost every night and it would probably take you six months to a year to repeat a restaurant," said Mike Schulte of Citi Habitats, who lives in the neighborhood.

Depending on where you live in Jackson Heights, you could have access to five subway lines - the E, F, R, M and the No. 7.

One-bedrooms in Jackson Heights usually go for around $1,350 to $1,700 a month, Schulte said. Two-bedrooms run for about $1,600 to $2,000, but there aren't many three-bedrooms available since the buildings are so old, he said. Co-ops are common, starting in the $250,000 to $350,000 range, depending on square footage and location.


Sunnyside is a residential neighborhood juxtaposed against beautiful views of the Empire State Building and midtown Manhattan.

"It's got a lot of community feel to it," Schulte said, adding that there are "trees everywhere you turn."

The area has plenty of bars, restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies, which help to create a complete neighborhood within the city, he added.

Sunnyside is also home to Sunnyside Gardens Park, the only privately-owned park in the city other than Gramercy.

Renovations to buildings in the area created one- and two-bedrooms that are on the smaller side, Schulte said, and there aren't many three-bedrooms available.
One-bedrooms run in the $1,550 to $1,850 range, and twos go for between $1,950 and $2,250, he said. One-bedroom co-ops start in the $260,000 to $390,000 range.


Kensington is a great spot for prospective residents looking for a place that's easy to get to.

With Ocean Parkway running through it (lined with co-ops and rental buildings) and access to the F and G trains, the area exudes convenience.

In addition to its tree-lined streets, Kensington is a short walk from Prospect Park, and features a multicultural plethora of restaurants and eateries along Church and McDonald aves.

"There's a lot of good food," said Guichard Cadet, a sales associate at Citi Habitats.

Cadet said the area offers a range of living options, from one-bedrooms for $1,400 and up, and two-bedrooms for $1,800 to $2,000, to three-bedrooms with laundry rooms for $2,500 to $2,700. Side streets offer Victorian and Colonial homes with garages and driveways.


For those who want a park neighborhood coupled with ethnic diversity and express trains to the city, Sunset Park is the perfect spot.

Fifth Avenue is the main drag through the neighborhood, which has its own park and is also a 15-minute train ride from Prospect Park.

"The food and ... the general aura of the neighborhood is excellent," said Tyler Evenson of Rapid Realty, which sells in the area.

"There's such a diversity of foods in the area and there's a certain authenticity to it that other neighborhoods lack," he added.

Most residents in Sunset Park are renters in the neighborhood's primarily two- and three-family brownstone blocks, he said.

One-bedrooms usually go for between $1,200 and $1,300; two-bedrooms are between $1,500 and $1,800 and three-bedrooms are $1,800 and up, all depending on amenities, Evenson said.

Two-family homes, which are often bought to rent out, sell for $600,000 to $700,000, and three-families go for $800,000 to $900,000.


Throggs Neck and its neighbor Pelham Bay are highly recommended neighborhoods by Bronx real estate experts, as they feature good schools, convenient transportation and reasonable living costs.

"Everything is pretty much walking distance," said Millie Valentin of Exit Realty in the Bronx. "It's a very friendly neighborhood."

Valentin added that Pelham Bay offers waterfront properties and a private school.

She said the areas are pet-friendly and offer several outdoor recreation options.

For example, Ferry Point Park, currently being constructed, will stretch from the Whitestone Bridge across Throggs Neck to the water, and will feature a country club-type setting with a golf course, bike trails and upscale restaurants.

Throggs Neck offers a lot of rentals, Valentin said, with one-bedrooms going for $1,100 to $1,300 and two-bedrooms running for $1,400 to $1,600.
Pelham Bay has more private residences, which are a little pricier due to their proximity to the No. 6 train. Single-family homes range from $350,000 to the high $400,000s.


Stapleton can thank St. George for an expected rise in residential popularity in coming years. The nabe is one free train stop away from St. George, the Staten Island Ferry stop and future home of an outlet mall, and the world's largest Ferris wheel.

It is home to the historic Tappen Park, which was recently revitalized, in addition to a multitude of restaurants and small shops.

"Stapleton has a small-town feel to it, kind of like a seaside village-feel," said Joseph Ferrara, a principal at BFC Partners, which recently built two housing developments in the area.

One-bedrooms in Stapleton generally run for about $1,100 a month, Ferrara said, with two-bedrooms going for $1,500 and threes for $1,600 to $1,700.

There aren't many buying options in the area, as zoning restrictions prevent large developments, preserving the appealing, small-town feel, he said.


It's hard to believe that "quiet" and "peaceful" could describe any part of New York City, let alone a neighborhood in Manhattan - but those are the words Blair Robinson of Citi Habitats used to describe Inwood.

"It's definitely a nook of a neighborhood," she said.

With Fort Tryon Park serving as "a personal Central Park," access to the Cloisters and sprawling views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, Robinson couldn't seem to extol the neighborhood enough.

It has access to a bike path that runs down the west side of Manhattan that's perfect for outdoorsy types, and some of the best Latin food in the city, she said.

"It's very well-kept," Robinson added. "The people who live there want to keep it that way."

One-bedrooms in the area go for around $1,200 to $1,300, she said, with two-bedrooms going for $1,800 to $2,200, depending on the renovations, and three-bedrooms run anywhere from $2,300 to $2,800.

Condos in the area are on the market from $450,000 into the millions, the costliest being in the Tudors with views of the river, Robinson said.


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