What happens when hipsters can’t afford to live in Brooklyn anymore? They migrate to the suburbs, and create Hipsturbia. The term is clunky, but it describes an interesting phenomenon. From the Times:
While this colonization is still in its early stages, it is different from the suburban flight of decades earlier, when young parents fled a city consumed by crime and drugs. These days, young creatives are fleeing a city that has become too affluent.
Brooklyn, once the affordable alternative to Manhattan, has since been re-branded as an international style capital. Lofts in Williamsburg formerly filled with baristas and bass players now sell to Goldman bankers in excess of $1 million. The same is true in leafier breeder-magnet neighborhoods like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill, where young families now compete with moneyed buyers from overseas, real estate agents said.
A stately five-bedroom town house in Cobble Hill, which sold for $750,000 in 2000, was recently listed for nearly $2.9 million, according to public records. Prefer to rent? Even a two-bedroom duplex in Carroll Gardens with a garden for the little ones can run $5,500 a month.
Patrick McNeil, 37, a painter from Greenpoint, encountered nothing but frustration on a recent Brooklyn house hunt. “We would be going out to open houses, and there would be 80 people going in, and they’d be asking $740,000, and it would suddenly go to $940,000 — all cash,” Mr. McNeil said. “And you’re still two blocks away from the sewer plant in Greenpoint. We just thought, ‘What are we doing?’ ”
We lived in Cobble Hill from 1999-2003, and loved it. Seeing those figures, re: how expensive housing has become, is shocking. Carroll Gardens back then was the neighborhood you moved to when Cobble Hill became too expensive. And now a duplex there rents for $5,500 a month! Unbelievable.
Nearly everyone we knew from our circles there moved away as their families began to expand. We all loved Brooklyn, but we couldn’t afford it. This is exactly right:
To finally pull up stakes in Brooklyn, however, one has to make peace with the idea that a certain New York adventure is over, said Cass Ghiorse, 32, a dancer who recently had her first child and moved, with her husband, Joe McCarthy, from Williamsburg to Irvington. She now teaches yoga at Hastings Yoga, a new studio.
“You’re not a failure if you decide to leave Brooklyn,” Ms. Ghiorse said. “People move to New York with a plan, a dream, and sometimes it doesn’t work out that you can live that lifestyle. It takes a lot of money.”
More from the article:
Mitchell Moss, an urban-planning professor at New York University, said that funkier suburbs like the river towns are getting a new look from “overeducated hipsters,” not just because they have good schools, spacious housing and good transit, but because lately the restaurants are good enough to keep them in the suburbs on a Saturday night. “The creative class is trying to replicate urban life in the suburbs,” he said.
There’s plenty of stuff that’s easy to satirize in all this, great material for a New Yorker cartoon. I mean, the comedy almost writes itself (the unironically stated observation about Fernet Branca cocktails is priceless). But I think there’s probably more good in it than not. Not long ago, I was talking with a friend in my town, and we realized that some of the most valued and widely beloved things about our place came into being because of hippies who relocated to this country town and place in the 1970s and after. A place needs new blood, and new ideas, new ways of looking at the world. I like this:
“Walking to pick up milk, to nip over to the farmers’ market, is priceless,” said Helen Steed, a creative director in fashion in her early 40s whose family moved from Brooklyn to Irvington four years ago. “It’s more familiar, less suburban.”
Indeed, the sturdy, retro, all-American character of the river towns fits well with the whole Filson/Woolrich heritage-brand aesthetic. People who set their cultural compass to the Brooklyn Flea appreciate the authenticity.
“Hastings-on-Hudson is a village, in a Wittgensteinian sort of way,” Mr. Wallach said. He added, “We are constantly hearing about the slow-food movement, the slow-learning movement and the slow-everything-else. So why not just go avant-garde into a slow-village movement?”
I know. I know. What the hell is a “Wittgensteinian” village? This sort of thing could easily become insufferable. Nevertheless, don’t lose sight of the good in all this. When my mom and dad came to visit us in Brooklyn, my mom was really impressed by how the geography of daily life — how our routines depended on walking from little shop to little shop, getting to know the shopkeepers, running into neighbors on the streets and sidewalks, and so forth. It was so intimate and pleasurable, she thought. And she was right. You can’t always, or even often, find that in the suburbs, but you can take the good things you had in Brooklyn and its culture, and take it with you to places that you can afford, and that offer you and your family a quality of life no longer available in the big city. I’ve kept up somewhat over the years with the heritage foods culture that emerged out of Brooklyn, and I’ve thought about how certain parts of it are a natural fit for the rural place in which I live.
Maybe some Brooklyn hipster parents will read The Little Way of Ruthie Leming and relocate their pickle-making, home-brewing selves to our great little town. (True story: I met a man recently who relocated to St. Francisville with his wife after reading David Brooks’s 2011 column about my move back home.) It can be surprising, and very pleasing, to see how people from very different worlds can get along, and make something good for each other in the meeting of the minds and cultures.