My wife and I, and our two young children, purchased a multifamily home in the first area you mentioned about a year ago. We are very happy here. Nice, neighborly blocks, for the most part. Never had an issue. Then again, we lived in Crown Heights for ten years prior to this (before Myspace took over!) and never had an issue there either. In fact, I'd say we were awakened by gunshots far more often in the mid 2000's in CH (several times every summer) than here for certain.
There's definitely crime here, as there is everywhere, and on certain corners and down certain blocks it may very well be more pronounced, but again, we've never had an issue or even really felt very unsafe. I'd certainly recommend it here. Feel free to PM if you have any specific questions about the location. You could also check out spotcrime.com if you want to do more research.
Lots of life along both Lewis Ave and Marcus Garvey. Lewis, in particular, has the Peaches franchise down by Fulton - separate restaurant, bar, and coffee place under the same management, all good - as well as Beso, a tapas bar and Therapy Wine Bar, which has a great backyard in the warmer months, a little further up Lewis. On Fulton by Marcy is Restoration Plaza, which as a huge Super FoodTown. And of course, Fulton itself offers a wide variety of pretty inexpensive ships and food options.
My only real complaint, in comparing our old digs in CH to our home in Bed-Stuy, is that in the former, we were spoiled by being a block off the Franklin Ave 2-3, 4-5 station. Here, its a ten minute walk to either C and Kingston/Throop or A at Utica. But of course, if you manage to purchase something close to Fulton, that wouldn't be an issue.
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.
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