This is our cute dog Jameson. He is a 2 ½ year old Norwich Terrier. We call him Jame-o for short sometimes. Jameson’s quality of life has seen a bit of a decline since he moved to Bed-Stuy. No more doggy daycare or dog run in the park for Jame-o! He does have a really lovely Bed-Stuy based dog walker though and sometimes she loads a bunch of the dogs in her van and takes them to the dog run. So please don’t feel too bad for Jameson he still lives a very charmed life.
Here are some other ways in which Bed-Stuy is NOT Williamsburg*
Noisy – The streets are a lot less crowded but somehow much more noisy, more people making noise at night and more annoying car sounds like alarms, sirens, and beeping.
Not as many restaurants – There are some really great places to eat in Bed-Stuy but not anywhere near the density of Williamsburg. This was an adjustment for us because we were always eating out.
Wider Streets and Trees – The streets here are so wide and there are hundred old trees lining them. It’s lovely. And so much parking!
Friendly people – Our first morning in Bed-Stuy I went out to walk Jameson and everyone started greeting me “Good Morning.” At first I was like, “Omg what’s going on? why are people on the streets of New York making eye contact and talking to me?” But overtime I have realized how much more neighborly it is here. There is a much deeper sense of community.
So while I am missing my cappuccino on every corner (the fancy hipster kind where they steam the milk perfectly and make you foam art), I am really starting to like Bed-Stuy. There are more shops and bars opening up all the time. I love Sundays here where everyone is out walking around, you can hear music from the churches and you can stroll while admiring all the beautiful architecture.
*This list is not all-inclusive. I realize I have only been here for a few months. Also if anyone has some cool suggestions of places to go I would love to hear about it!
In November 2010 my fiance purchased a new construction duplex 1200 sq. ft. condo in North Williamsburg from a bankrupt sponsor. Needless to say the deal was quick and the price was right, also Williamsburg was really up and coming. By 2014 when we thought about selling the streets surrounding us were bustling with new businesses, coffee shops, bars, and several other condo buildings either recently completed or in construction. The price of the condo had nearly doubled. My fiance had won the real estate lottery, the things real estate dreams are made of! So we thought if he had been lucky once why not take that profit move to the next up and coming area of Brooklyn and do it again. But this time we were setting our sights on something even bigger and better… a Brownstone!
We listed the condo on N11th Street in the late Spring of 2014. Within 3 days we were receiving offers and within 7 days we had accepted one for over asking price. We thought “wow this whole things is going to be a breeze”. We wanted to have a quick closing so we could get our money and use it to put a down payment on a Brownstone in Bed-Stuy. We already had one picked out on Quincy Street close to the J train. We had architects view it and we were brainstorming idea for renovating. However the real estate gods had a different plan for us. The closing on the condo was significantly delayed. We were selling our condo to an international male ballerina so he was often out of the country and communication was slow going from us to our broker to his broker to him and also dealing with the condo board and management company. With all the delays were concerned about being priced out of the area of Bed-Stuy we wanted to buy in.
We ran into communication issues with the seller of the Brownstone on Quincy too. We thought we had a deal and he understood we were waiting for money and he was going to accept a significantly smaller amount of money upon going into contract. Later he claimed he had no idea about this deal and he thought it was crazy. The Quincy Street seller fired his broker and took his place off the market for a few weeks. This was the first of many instances where we have had to learn to move on (but more on that later). We lost out on that first Brownstone but three months later we finally closed on our condo in mid-September. Yes, mid-September, remember when I said we accepted an offer at the end of spring and we were hoping for a quick 30 day closing. Yeah that didn’t happen. This is NYC real estate, how could we be so naive?
We had to get a small rental in the mean time so we had some place to live after we closed on the condo. Since we were anticipating closing in summer we got a rental for Aug 1st. Finding the rental was easy and smooth but we didn’t end up moving until September so we were kicking ourselves for paying that extra month of rent. Also we were debating doing a sublet but thankfully the best decision we have made to date was not getting a sublet and signing a full year lease because it’s January 2015 and we still have not closed on a brownstone! Did I mention we closed in September and we had a big pile of cash. I think I did. Yeah, and here it is 2015 and some days it doesn’t feel like we are any closer. We are however in contract to buy a place, so at least that is progress, although it is not going smoothly. Patience and positive thoughts!
My fiance and I are buying our first house together. We have lived in Brooklyn the last three years, and we our now living in a small apartment in Bed-Stuy while we wait to (hopefully) purchase what is a 100-something year old traditional Brownstone. The process so far has been extremely challenging. We sold our condo in Williamsburg and are now in contract to purchase a three floor Brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant. If the deal goes through we will embark on what will probably be one the most challenging processes of our life, a major renovation to a very old home that has been very much neglected. It is exciting and scary.
We are working with architects and contractors since we do not have the time nor the skills to do something like this on our own. We recently met with the architects to go over layouts and design options and it got me thinking…. here we are in our late twenties about to get married and buy a house. Most people venture on a similar path around this age and it seems the goal is often to go out and buy a house so they can start to just fill it up with stuff. We have this amazing opportunity to design and restore a home. I want it to be meaningful. I want it to have purpose to our lives. I dare say maybe I want it to be minimal. I don’t mean I want all the walls to be bare and white and eat from only one bowl everyday. But I don’t want to get caught up in this “creative” process by turning it into a “consumer” process. I really do want it to be creative and meaningful to our lives. I want the space to be both beautiful and functional.
I am going to use this blog space to document all the steps we take, the up the downs, the decision-making, and the progress with a few goals in mind… (1) to have a place to keep a record of building this first home together, (2) to keep us accountable for making all the decisions with purpose and sharing how minimalism fits in our lives, (3) to share the crazy trials and tribulations of buying a house in NYC and any useful information we come across, (4) to explore and share information about this new up and coming neighborhood of Brooklyn called Bed-Stuy, and (5) to allow our family, friends, and you to follow along in the process!