When it comes to living the American Dream, the first place that comes to mind is New York City. New York isn’t actually the most expensive city in the world, but it still does cost a lot to live there. When it comes to picking the right neighborhood to live in in Manhattan, it can be tough coming to a decision. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the area affordable?
- How far is work? Having a shorter commute is so much better.
- Do you feel happy moving there?
- Is the neighborhood safe?
- How is the community?
Our take on the top 20 Manhattan neighborhoods should hopefully help you narrow down your choices.
Midtown Manhattan is one of the busiest place in NYC. Crawling with tourists, midtown is home to major attractions such as the Empire State Building and Times Square. Midtown is great for people who love crowds and bright lights. On New Year’s Eve, it is swamped with people waiting for the ball to drop. Times Square requires business owners to display illuminated signs, so you’ll never get bored.
SoHo, home of the famous shopping street Broadway, is one of the trendiest neighborhoods and also one of the most expensive. There are many high-end restaurants and stores that attract a combination of the local and global elite. Many of the best boutique shops in New York City can be found in SoHo, along with the nicest hotels. As SoHo doesn’t follow the traditional street-naming rules, it can be confusing to get your bearings when first getting to the neighborhood. There’s always something cool to stumble upon, but you can also make generous use of navigation apps.
Chelsea is known as heaven for artists, and is also a bustling gay area. Some of the world’s most famous artists have lived in Chelsea because of the old buildings’ high ceilings and large freight elevators they could use to make and transport their work. Now over 300 art galleries exist in Chelsea. Chelsea is a great neighborhood to live in due to the restaurants, bars, shops and various cultural activities that exist within the vicinity, including the Chelsea Market. Chelsea is home to the High Line Park, a raised site of greenery made from an abandoned railroad track. The Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden are both within walking distance.
Upper East Side
The Upper East Side has been known as the “Gold Coast” because of the wealthy men and women who dress well and live in this neighborhood. Due to its rich population, the Upper East Side is home to some of New York’s most expensive real estate, often in the form of single floor apartments and generous penthouses. It’s not an ideal place to live if you want to save money, unless you find a cheaper walk-up closer to the river than Central Park. The neighborhood is populated with many elite private schools like the Spence School, Rudolph Steiner School and some of the city’s best public schools. Families from other neighborhoods often tend to move to Upper East Side for its excellent schools.
The East Village is one of the city’s most artistic neighborhoods. Its cheapness made it a center for struggling artists and writers back in the 1950’s. Now it is full of coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, and stores. What makes the East Village unique as compared to other neighborhoods is the immigrant population. Historically, the majority of the population was blue collar and lower-working class. Now it’s heavily populated with students from NYU, Pratt, The New School, and lots of twenty-somethings.
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side (LES) still has some affordable prices. It not may be the most pretty part of the city, but it’s a fun area with a lot to do. Chinatown and Little Italy are right next door, which means so is great authentic foreign cuisine. The Lower East Side has a lot of history, as it was even more of an immigrant destination than the Lower East Side. There are museums and galleries all sprinkled throughout the area. The nightlife is a big attraction of the LES, with many clubs, bars, and late-night eateries staying open well into the night. It used to be a more dangerous part of the city, but is much safer now.
Tribeca is an acronym for “Triangle Below Canal,” which is fantastic if you can afford it. There was a time that Tribeca was one of the most deserted places in NYC as it was filled with warehouses. However, a lot has changed and it closely resembles SoHo. Currently it’s one of the liveliest and hippest neighborhood in Manhattan. Although it’s cool, this comes at a price. The neighborhood is a grid of factories and warehouse buildings, many of them which are old. The buildings are short, so you’ll can see plenty of sky. However, the streets are small and full of dead ends which can be frustrating when driving. Tribeca was once home to Robert De Niro, the founder of the Tribeca Film Festivals. Thanks to him, people in NYC began to admire the cobblestone streets such as Washington, Greenwich and Harrison Streets.
Commonly known as “The Village,” Greenwich Village used to be the bohemian capital. Like most other places in Manhattan, the desirability of living there has caused rents to increase. Today, it is home to combination of families, successful artists, and professionals. Living here can be expensive as the space is limited. Greenwich village has a very friendly community and is known to have the city’s best bakeries such as Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street. Greenwich village is often crowded during holidays, such as the Halloween Parade and the Gay Pride Parade, which you should definitely experience at least once if you live in NYC.
To get an idea of the Garment District’s history, rent the HBO’s documentary Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags. It’s a commercial neighborhood, with lots of deliveries and trucks. Even though it’s not very residential place, it’s costly to live here, although you may get more for what you pay here than in other neighborhoods. If you are buying, it would be a great idea to invest in real estate in the Garment District as prices are increasing rapidly. The Garment District is commonly referred by the locals as The Fashion District, as it’s home to bulk clothing shops where you can find buttons, rugs, furs, fabrics, and more. The Fashion District is not the most exciting place to live as there is very little form of entertainment right nearby.
Harlem is known as one of the largest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Founded by the Dutch, it has had a reputation as a dangerous place with violence and drugs. However, it is becoming a much more livable and safe place. Harlem is now a mix of modern luxury buildings and affordable houses. The combination of new and old businesses blend together quite nicely. Harlem has a vibrant community with well-maintained parks where you can go for a jog in the morning or walk your dog. It is one of the most northern neighborhoods in Manhattan, so make sure to factor in the commute if you spend time downtown.
Kips Bay is a quiet neighborhood that gives you access to all. Union Square is not too far with its variety of stores, gyms, and eateries. Manhattan is quite noisy but Kips Bay is somewhat quieter. There are great movie theatres known for their spacious size in Kips Bay. The East Village, Flatiron and Chelsea are only 15 minute walks.
Flatiron is the inner west side of the blocks in the 20’s. The Flatiron District, a really nifty area, gets it name from the Flatiron Building, a building on 22nd and 5th that looks flat from the sides and–surprise–kind of like an iron. The real estate here used to be less than $1 million, however, now you’re likely to see prices around $2.5 million. 23rd street is the heart of the Financial District, and is flanked by Madison Square Park. It is a popular neighborhood among those working in entertainment, particularly models, directors, and media moguls. There are also a number of startups and coworking spaces in the area.
Hell’s kitchen may seem like a aggressive neighbor judging by its name, but that’s not the case. According to majority of the locals living here, it’s a very fun neighborhood. It has extensive theatre and restaurant culture. Hell’s Kitchen is now named Clinton, but most NYC citizens haven’t adapted to the new name yet. Hell’s Kitchen is home to many Broadway and off-Broadway theatres. Bryant park, the area’s greenery, has an ice skating rink in the winter and shows movies in the summer for free. You’re not too far from the chaos of Times Square, but it’s a little more peaceful.
Chinatown is one of the most visited neighborhoods in all of New York City. If you love crowds, you’ll definitely love Chinatown! It’s not a ideal place to live due to the many street markets and hidden late night bars, but the rent can be affordable. It has great ethnic restaurants that are not only Chinese, including Vietnamese restaurants where you can get fish or a large bowl of noodle soup. Apart from eating and shopping, Chinatown is also the residence of a couple of galleries and the Museum of Chinese.
Upper West Side
Home to the American Museum of Natural History, the Upper West Side is a great place to live. One of the best parts about the Upper West Side is the ease of access to both Central Park and Riverside Park. These are great places to refresh your mind or go for a jog. The UWS is pet-friendly, with many shops offering bowls filled with water outside for pets passing by. It also has a lot of great restaurants with diverse food options. Although it’s great for living in quiet and with family, there isn’t much nightlife here. Also, the rent can be pricey considering how small the apartments are. At that price, you can find an apartment in NYC that has more space.
Right by Greenwich Village, the West Village is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and hang out with friends. There are many cafés, bookshops, and vintage clothing stores. Due to its charming nature, it’s hard to find an affordable place to stay in the West Village. Even though you may not live here, it is a neighborhood that is a must visit. Take a stroll to see beautiful brownstones lining the street. You’ll also want to stop at one of the many old fashion diners, such as the Waverly on Waverly and 6th.
Gramercy is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Manhattan. It’s downtown, but it’s almost its own silent corner. There are few tourists compared with the nearby East Village and Soho. At the middle of Gramercy is Gramercy Park, a privately owned enclave built in the 1800’s. Unless you live on the blocks facing the park, you cannot get a key and get in. The community of Gramercy Park isn’t very friendly, but the surrounding parts of Gramercy can be very welcoming.
NoLita is a charming neighborhood right by SoHo. It has a trendy vibe, and is where a majority of people come to shop at various jewelry stores, boutiques, and designer outposts. It’s right by Broadway and also near the New Museum on Bowery. On weekends, you’ll also be able to find street vendors selling handmade jewelry.
Battery Park City
One shouldn’t be surprised when learning Battery Park City is just like the rest of Manhattan, but even a little bit more expensive. It was once a fortress of solitude to the citizens of Manhattan on weeknights when tourists left, but it’s pretty busy now all the time. In addition to the Statue of Liberty tours leaving from Battery Park City, there is a revamped Pier with boats and The Brookfield Mall. BPC is frustrating to navigate with a vehicle, as it’s filled with traffic and has extremely limited parking. You’ll hear traffic throughout your day. Being at the Southern tip of Manhattan, though, it has incredible waterfront views.
The name may sound very assuming, although the neighborhood is a fantastic place to live. The name Noho stands for North of Houston, as does SoHo which is South of Houston. NoHo is home to luxurious low-rise apartment buildings, upscale gyms, fancy juiceries, and chic cafés. It’s frequented by students, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. There is great access to all major subway lines, and it’s currently where the Kardashians live.
If you find yourself fantasizing about making one of these neighborhoods your new home, you’ll need to start planning as soon as possible. Reliable professional movers are a must in the city, so get a quote today and you’ll be on your way to your new life here in New York.