Brooklyn Dilemmas: Brownstone vs High Rise Living

April 27th, 2016 8:43 AM by Nelson Aybar

Moving to Brooklyn is a dream come true for many. The neighborhood, the shops, the endless eateries…there are many reasons why Brooklyn has the reputation of being a hip place to live. Yet with so many different real estate choices in the borough, deciding between living in a brownstone or a brand new high rise can become quite the dilemma.

The beauty of brownstones on a tree-lined street in Brooklyn is always stunning.

Brownstones were generally built in three different styles: Renaissance Revival, Italianate, and Greek Revival. Generally grouped together on tree-lined streets, their solid and beautiful construction evokes the glamour of a by-gone era. Imbued with nostalgia, brownstones in Brooklyn have enough crown molding, built-in architectural details and marble fireplaces to make anyone swoon. Combining this elegance with the practicality of durable hardwood floors, it makes sense why brownstones in Brooklyn are in such high demand.

Brownstones can come with a flight or two of stairs. That can make moving in or out a little bit of a challenge, but one that experienced moving companies handle with ease. There are also the coveted garden apartments in brownstones, which usually have exclusive access to the backyard. This can be a haven from city life, extend the square footage of the unit and provide a bit of space for pets or kids to roam.


A renovated brownstone in Brooklyn combines old-world beauty with modern appliances.

Yet there are some aspects of brownstone living that bear consideration. For example, most brownstones are tucked between others on quiet, tree-lined streets. This means that generally, the only windows a brownstone has are in the front and back of the building which can limit sunlight. But what windows they are! Generally larger than in other buildings, brownstone windows let the light gush in. Some brownstones may lack some updated appliances found in other buildings, like laundry facilities or dishwashers, but many landlords are becoming aware that these are amenities that their tenants would like. As a result, more and more brownstones are being renovated to include modern appliances.

But if those are amenities that are required, Brooklyn still has many options for a househunter. New apartment buildings are being constructed in Brooklyn at a frenzied pace and most units come outfitted with their own laundry machines inside the unit. Dishwashers are standard in these apartments, as are luxury bathrooms and plenty of closet space. What Brooklyn charm may be missing from these glittering apartment complexes with cookie-cutter units can be made up for in the shared spaces, including gyms, pools, roof decks and sometimes, movie theaters or playrooms for kids.

High rise living includes lots of glittering glass windows.

Package delivery is another differentiator between high rises and brownstones. In most high rises, a doorman can sign for and keep packages for residents. For those living in brownstones, a new service called FromParcel is removing all the headaches from receiving deliveries in a timely manner. For only $5 a delivery, FromParcel will schedule a delivery of packages when someone will be home. That creates peace of mind, knowing that each delivery will be able to arrive without unneeded stress.

High rise living can become a bit lonely. Since the buildings are so large, residents can make an effort to get to know each other, but with busy schedules and a rush of residents through the lobby, many stay to themselves. In brownstones, there are fewer units per building so residents generally get to know each other and become friends.

Many times, heat and hot water are not included in new construction which creates an additional monthly cost. In brownstones, heat and hot water is almost always included. Generally radiator heat, brownstones stay warm throughout the cold Brooklyn winters.

So which to go for: the brownstone or the brand new high rise? It’s an on-going debate for any house-hunter and difficult to weigh the pros and cons of each. However, once moved into a new home a more pressing dilemma arises: which restaurant in the new Brooklyn neighborhood to check out first.

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Posted by Nelson Aybar on April 27th, 2016 8:43 AM