Even if your at-home work space somehow has the ideal combination of privacy, natural light, high speed internet, and proximity to snacks and a coffee machine, if you spend any significant amount of time writing at home, chances are you've experienced your fair share of cabin fever. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Some would even say that a desire to go outdoors, interact with other people, and eat something that isn't a sad cobbled-together meal of leftovers from your fridge is a healthy thing. Whatever your particular motivation, finding just the right place to situate yourself for hours on end while nursing the same cup of drip coffee can be surprisingly difficult—I once saw the owner of Athom Cafe kick a guy out of an otherwise empty seating area just for pulling a laptop out of his bag. Different people have different policies. Now, if your preferred method really is longhand and your day-to-day work doesn't require internet access or any kind of outlet, then by all means, go find the shadiest tree in Prospect Park and go to town. But for the rest of us that are hopelessly tethered to these kind of amenities, here are ten of the best places to hunker down when working from home has lost all appeal.
While there's a lot to be said for the sandwich and espresso options at this (relatively) longtime Bushwick staple, if you need to camp out for a long time and are strapped for cash, their bagels and grilled cheese sandwiches are a surprisingly good deal, as is their drip coffee. More importantly, though, they've got reliable wireless, a good amount of tables, and seemingly no problem at all with patrons who come here to make a day of it. It also doesn't hurt that this place is right down the block from Norbert's pizza and Happy Fun Hideaway, should you be itching for an excuse to take a break.
941 Willoughby Ave., Bushwick
Milk and Roses
With its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, free wifi, and lovely backyard area (worth taking advantage of while the weather's still good), this Greenpoint cafe has rightfully earned its cult following. Stake out a spot, order a lavender tea, and inadvertently stay so long that your allotted work time smoothly transitions into their happy hour.
1110 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
This Williamsburg coffee shop may have had a starring role in that embarrassing Times piece about "Laptopistan" a few years back
, but Style Section blights aside, it really is an excellent place to get work done. There's coffee, food, and a good amount of outlets, yes, but also a crowd that's generally pretty committed to quietly getting some writing done, and willing to watch your laptop if you need to leave your post for a few minutes. Peer pressure at its very most productive.
116 Havemeyer, Williamsburg
Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library
Whether or not you need access to their collections for actual research or are just in it for the government-provided wifi, we'd be remiss if we left out one of the few truly free public workspaces out there, which also just happens to be one of the borough's most stunning pieces of architecture. A few added bonuses: their hours run longer than most library branches, they've got an excellent cafe on-site, and as of this January, a huge, spruced-up new co-working space.
10 Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights
3rd Ward Co-Working Space
While loitering in cafes is a time honored tradition of freelancers, if you're doing it so much that money spent on the coffee and food it takes to buy you a seat is starting to add up, it may be time to think about springing for a co-working space. There's a lot to be said for a dedicated workspace outside of your home that'll also put you in proximity to other busy creative types. 3rd Ward has one of the more reasonably priced options
—a shared desk will run you $149 per month—and taking a tour of the space means you also get a free day of coworking to decide if you're willing to shell out the money longer term. Not a bad deal for a guaranteed desk in one of Brooklyn's most fruitful creative environments.
195 Morgan Ave., Bushwick
- Photo via Kyle Thomas McGovern/The Local
One of the better-priced cafes on the list (you can get a sandwich on a baguette here for less than $6), the laid-back, friendly work environment has become so popular that they've recently set a two hour limit on wireless usage. Not necessarily right if you're working on a PhD thesis, but ideal if you're in the home stretch of a project and need a little extra pressure to buckle down, or just need to bang out a few emails you've been putting off for weeks. And when you're finished? Close the computer and reward yourself with a beer (PBR is $1 on Mondays).
1014 Fulton St., Clinton Hill
Greenpoint Co-Working Space
- Image via Greenpoint Co-working
Another excellent co-working option, this one's a bit more expensive than 3rd Ward, but the $240 monthly membership also comes with printer access, free coffee, tea and snacks, reliable wireless and air conditioning, and access to a variety of discounts for services like Zipcar. And, unlike some co-working spaces, this one'll let you rent out a space for a single day. The fee's a little steep at $35, so if you do it, come with a specific, productive agenda in mind.
240 North Henry St. #1, Greenpoint
The Tea Lounge
I remember the first time I came to this place, when a friend who had just moved to the city for graduate school dragged me here with lots of wide-eyed hyperbole about how he'd found the greatest place ever with the nicest people and the best food
to work on whatever it was he was working on. As it turned out, he was totally right. A staple both for local parents and writers itching to get out of the house, the Tea Lounge is the comfy-couched platonic ideal of a relaxed neighborhood place to come and do what you need to do. Their excellent espresso, general willingness to incorporate Nutella into the menu, and surprisingly cheap happy hour don't hurt, either.
837 Union St., Park Slope
Another superlative neighborhood spot, Roots Cafe truly goes out of its way to support local artists and vendors (and serve up healthy, cheap meals alongside cups of Stumptown). The result is a rich, well-loved working environment, and a good place to look for outside inspiration. They open up at 6:30, and it's worth dragging yourself out of bed and setting up shop early.
639A 5th Ave., South Slope
One of the longer running and higher profile co-working spaces in the borough, and it's also one of the better deals, with monthly membership rates starting at $99 and options for reserved conference room time (presumably more professional-seeming than taking a meeting in your living room). They're also great about regularly hosting talks, courses, and events, and provide a truly stellar way to further involve yourself in the local arts community.
33 Nassau Ave., Williamsburg
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.
The 2013 Brooklyn Lit Supplement is presented by NYU