Ah, the outer boroughs. Often less-rushed, quieter, and roomier than the main event of Manhattan. But for New Yorkers, trying to choose between living in Brooklyn vs. Queens, making the decision can be downright painful. Both have charms aplenty, including unmissable restaurants and cultural must-sees that can make even their big sister Manhattan jealous. That’s why we spoke with real estate agents in both boroughs to suss out the need-to-know info to inform your choice. “The two boroughs have been rivals forever,” says Long Island City-based Eric Benaim, CEO and Founder of Modern Spaces. Spoiler alert: there are no wrong answers.
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How Much Does It Cost To Live in Each Borough?
When you’re weighing living in Brooklyn vs. Queens, take a good long look at your finances. You may need some extra dough to live in a borough with fab pizza. Yes, we are talking about you, Brooklyn! Its median asking rent is $2,722 as of January 2022. Up in Queens, things are slightly cheaper at $2,300. Want to buy a chunk of real estate as your very own? In Queens, the median asking price was $584,000, compared to $899,900 in Brooklyn. That’s more than $300,000 richer!
Now, say you want to live in a neighborhood that can only be described as “schmancy.” You’ll pay around $4,500, the median asking rent to live in Dumbo, Brooklyn. In its Queens counterpart of Long Island City, expect to pay a median asking rent of $3,580. To buy a place in those same spots, save your cash. You’ll pay a median asking price of $1.1 million in Long Island City, compared to a whopping $2.2 million in Dumbo.
Of course, when it comes to Brooklyn vs. Queens, many areas in both places have their own elements of grandeur at a more palatable price tag. Take Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, where the average asking rent is under 2K at $1,895. (And you can actually live on a shimmering bay bobbing with sailboats — cue the romance!) In Flushing, you’ll pay a similar asking rent: $1,950. And you’ll be able to tuck into some of the most delicious soup dumplings in the city on your way home from work. Win, win. (*Slurp.*)
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What Commuters Need To Know
Depending on the neighborhood regarding the Brooklyn vs. Queens debate, both are fantastic commuter towns and offer zippy jaunts into the city. Agents suggest taking your workplace locale into account. “If you work in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn is probably a good place for you to search,” Benaim says. “If you work in Midtown, the Upper East Side, or even Hudson Yards, you probably want to be in Queens.”
From Central Brooklyn, you can expect a 50-minute trip to Times Square on the F train. From Central Queens, you can expect a 47-minute journey to the same place on the E train. Both boroughs have similar amounts of trains going into Manhattan,” says Rami Avadi, a Brooklyn resident and a broker at Skyline Group Real Estate. He lived in Forest Hills, Queens, for 12 years. When comparing Brooklyn vs. Queens, he thinks stores and other local amenities are more accessible in Brooklyn.
Benaim notes that globetrotters considering Brooklyn vs. Queens should know that Queens is “transportation rich.” After all, there are two major airports in the borough: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia. And “if you weekend in the Hamptons, you gotta be in Queens,” he says. Why? The Long Island Railroad runs right through Queens, ferrying folks to sandy shores. Put on your best Hamptons-worthy wear, hop aboard the LIRR in Woodside, and you can be on the beach (or in the boutiques) of Southampton in two hours. Just enough time to binge a few of your favorite Netflix shows. And speaking of beaches, did you know both Brooklyn and Queens have NYC beach towns?
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Where To Find Entertainment
Attention, sports fans, while nobody is dropping the ball, there are some critical variations between Brooklyn vs. Queens. At least when it comes to the major leagues. “Queens has a baseball team; Brooklyn doesn’t,” Avadi says. “Brooklyn has a basketball team; Queens doesn’t.” Choose your home town, and your home team, accordingly.
Want to take in a concert? You’ll find covetable tickets in both boroughs. Brooklyn’s biggest name arena is no doubt the Barclays Center, with some 19,000 seats. Recent events at the home of the Brooklyn Nets have ranged from Disney on Ice to a Mary J. Blige concert. That’s “Real Love.” Come summer, Queens residents adore outdoor shows at Forest Hills Stadium, charming denizens since 1923 but revamped in 2013.
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Where To Find Big Attractions
You’ve got plenty to entertain you on both sides in the battle of Brooklyn vs. Queens. “In my opinion, it’s more relaxed in Queens,” Avadi says. Unexpected activities include wandering the serene 39-acre Queens Botanical Garden, where you can ogle everything from tobasco peppers to autumn clematis. Or stopping by Louis Armstrong’s own house in Corona — now a museum where you can see the jazz icon’s trumpets and well-deserved awards.
But for people that love to shop retail, Brooklyn may be calling their credit cards. “Brooklyn has become an international brand over the last 20 years and has a lot of great little neighborhoods,” Benaim says. And there are plenty of major shopping brands with a location there. “There’s even a Hermès gym. You can find things like that in Brooklyn.” Plus, plenty more — including the buzzing boardwalks of Coney Island and the Brooklyn Museum.
Where To Find the Best Eats
When it comes to a great meal, hungry New Yorkers will find that Brooklyn and Queens are tied when it comes to all things toothsome. “Queens is very diverse,” Benaim says. “There are 165 languages spoken in Queens; it’s very international. It’s known as the world’s borough because so many different languages are spoken here.” Translation: incredible food can be found in every neighborhood, whether you’re craving for arepas or souvlaki.
To get the most deliciousness for your buck, try a food hall. In Flushing, Queens grab dim sum at New World Mall. Or try newly opened Jacx & Co in Long Island City, where you can eat James Beard-award-winning pastries by Ghaya Oliveira and Cantonese BBQ in one teeming treasure trove.
Of course, Brooklynites have no shortage of edible thrills. At Dekalb Market Hall, you can nab deliciousness from 40 vendors under one roof. The soup dumplings and pineapple fried rice from Thank You Come Again are beloved. Ditto the No Sleep Till Pumpkin ice cream by Ample Hills Creamery — made four miles away in Red Hook.
What if you still can’t decide where to live? Here are 13 affordable Brooklyn neighborhoods for renters and seven affordable neighborhoods in Queens.