Welcome to Brooklyn, New York. Located just on the other side of the East River from Manhattan, Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. And while Manhattan might be the more famous of the two, Brooklyn is actually the largest both in land mass (see for yourself) and population. If it was a city, which it was until 1898, it’d be the 3th largest in the country after Los Angeles and Chicago.
Brooklyn used to have a bad rap with Manhattanites, especially in pop-culture (remember when Miranda moved to Brooklyn in Sex and the City?) But Brooklyn locals, and anyone who had spent time in the borough, have always known that Brooklyn’s diverse and lively neighborhoods were the place to be. It’s the birthplace of Biggy, Larry David, and the rollercoaster, the home to Coney Island and historic architecture, and is overflowing with the latest in dining, nightlife, and cultural institutions. And while the borough has changed greatly in the past two decades, its managed to maintain much of its cultural heritage. In this Brooklyn NY guide, we’ve rounded up our best resources for moving to, living in, and loving life in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn’s large size makes it home to many neighborhoods, all with their own unique architecture, cuisine, and “vibe”. Even neighboring neighborhoods can have distinctly different energies, which makes the borough so unique but can be confusing if you’re looking to move.
If you want to be close to Manhattan, a Whole Foods, and some of the best vintage shopping in the borough, Williamsburg or Downtown Brooklyn is for you. If you’re looking for quiet, tree lined streets and cozy local restaurants, Prospect Heights or Park Slope might be your home. But as a Brooklyn resident, you’re luckily not trapped in your neighborhood — you only need to walk a few blocks to find something new. Check out our favorite neighborhoods and why we love them.
Explore our favorite neighborhoods
Our favorite local businesses
Like in any major metropolitan area, local businesses and the people and passions behind them are what make a sprawling city feel like home. And if you’re a foodie, a vintage collector, a bookstore browser, or anyone who enjoys spending a day pursuing their hobbies or even window shopping, Brooklyn has something for you.
There’s the old school: linoleum lined delis, cozy Italian restaurants with suited up waiters, and taquerias that could aptly be called “holes in the wall” — with love of course. And there’s the new school: everything from vintage stores that are part time cafes, meditation and breathwork centers, and modern butcher shops that sell vegan options alongside homemade sausage.
Over the past seven years, we’ve spoken to many of these local businesses, learned their stories, and got their best tips and tricks for everything from finding the perfect gift to hosting the ultimate summer BBQ.
The best of Brooklyn living
Things to do, see, and experience
In a borough that spans almost 79 square miles, there’s always going to be something to fill your days. From the permanent, like Williamsburg’s modern waterfront Domino Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, or historic Prospect Park (designed by the same duo that created Central Park), to the temporary, like pop-up art installations or concerts in unexpected venues.
At night, there’s always a comedy show to catch or a dance party waiting for you to arrive, and for a more mellow mood, the borough’s bookstores and dozens of museums offer endless opportunities for inspiration. Some other noteworthy places to add to your Brooklyn itinerary include the New York Transit Museum, New York Aquarium, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Brewery, and the Barclays Center to catch a sports game or concert.
With so much to do, deciding how to spend the day can be overwhelming. Here’s a growing roundup of some of our favorite things to do across the borough.
Explore New York’s largest borough
Meet the Brooklyn Mavens
We’re Lauren and Merlyn, the creators and native Brooklynites behind lifestyle platform, The Brooklyn Mavens. Our brand serves to share the authentic side of the borough through sharing culture, events, style and stories of business owners and residents. If you’re looking for the best locals only spots, we’ve got you covered!
The beauty of the insta-ready biophilic design, the variety of plants available for beginners to experts and the well-versed staff are all reasons why you need to visit The Greenery Unlimited in Greenpoint. Black Market Vintage is the epitome of Black culture in the form of heirlooms and collectibles and one of their t-shirts was even worn by THE Issa Rae during an episode of Insecure. You’ll find vintage 1990’s VHS Tapes, Ebony Magazines, and even original Black Panther party newsletters.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music, also known as BAM has become the oldest performing arts center in America and you’ll enjoy a unique roster of performances from traditional and contemporary dance, opera, theater, music and film. Adanne is a black owned bookstore located in Dumbo that celebrates African culture. When walking in you are greeted with a warm and unique space that opens its doors for all to enjoy the beauty of reading.
Sopressata brick-oven pizza with Mike’s hot honey drizzled on-top? Say less! Located on the Franklin ave restaurant strip, Barboncino specializes in white and red wood-fire pizzas and robust wine-list to complement. New England style seafood and oyster bar, Littleneck is a small intimate restaurant in Greenpoint inspired by the clam shacks in Maryland that offers lobster rolls, coconut curry mussels, and clam chowder.
Explore Merlyn and Lauren’s favorite Brooklyn spots
Moving to Brooklyn
Now that you have an idea of what life might look like as a New Yorker, it’s time to make the move, whether that’s across the river from lower Manhattan or across the world. Moving to Brooklyn involves the same challenges that come with moving to any major city, especially New York, but there are a few things to know.
For example, rents tend to be cheaper than in Manhattan, but luxury buildings have been popping up across the borough for the past decade. Another helpful tip: pay attention to which subway lines you’ll live near. Some don’t take you into Manhattan without a transfer, or only allow you to explore certain parts of Brooklyn, as compared to Manhattan where it’s easier to walk to a more convenient subway line in most of the city.
For more tips and insider info, check out our blog posts.
Meet your neighbors
Who lives in Brooklyn? There are over 2.6 million people living across the borough, both local and from all over the world. And out of those 2.6 million people, hundreds are Common members who live across Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, and Clinton Hill. Hear their stories below.
Where to make your home
We’ll be honest: the New York City rental market is not a walk in Prospect Park, even in Brooklyn. A lot of people want to live in this incredible borough, and housing supply hasn’t risen to meet demand. Luckily, Common makes finding an apartment and living in Brooklyn easy. Our coliving homes get you more for your rent: a private bedroom in a fully-furnished shared suite, household essentials, WiFi, utilities, and more, including curated events that take you across the borough and beyond. Meet new friends at home or use the Connect by Common app to chat with other members across the city.
Plus, our homes are in some of our favorite neighborhoods in the borough, close to the East River waterfront, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, and endless bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. Learn more about our Brooklyn homes below, or head to our website to book a virtual or in-person tour today.
Find a comfortable, convenient apartment