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Burning Questions

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Which Borough Is Better?

Brooklyn has become the hottest borough in New York City, growing much more rapidly than any other borough. Over the past decade, Brooklyn has transformed into the hottest, trendiest spot in the entire city.

This has caused an influx of young families, young professionals, hipsters, and artists to take up residence in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Bushwick and Williamsburg. The differences between Manhattan and Brooklyn were stark, even as late as the 1990’s. Now, they’re becoming more and more similar. However, there are distinct nuances that still give these boroughs their unique identity. Let’s compare the livability of both Manhattan and Brooklyn and see which suits you best.

Cost of Living in Brooklyn vs Manhattan (Housing Costs)

The average rent for an apartment in Brooklyn is $2,665. The average rent for an apartment in Manhattan is $4,091. Most people will be looking for apartments below the average rent, meaning it is crucial to compare the prices of rent from various neighborhoods in the two boroughs. Even though the gap is getting smaller, Manhattan is still more expensive to live in overall. Read more about housing costs in New York City.

money burning

According to RentCafe, the average rent for a Brooklyn apartment is $3,010 per month. The average rent for a Manhattan apartment is $4,072 per month. Brooklyn is quickly catching up to Manhattan, but it likely will never be as high-priced as Manhattan.   According to BestPlaces, you would need a monthly salary of $6,126 to maintain your standard of living in Brooklyn. To maintain your standard of living in Manhattan, you’d need a salary of $8,333.

This doesn’t even include taxes or child care. Also, consider the fact that you’re in one of the most entertaining cities on Earth. You’ll want to include extra discretionary spending in your budget so that you can enjoy the food, adventures, and atmosphere of the city that never sleeps!

handful of $100 bills

Unless you’re planning on finding one or multiple roommates, you would really need to be on rock-solid financial ground to consider becoming a resident in Manhattan. That being said, you can still find apartments in some fantastic Manhattan neighborhoods for $2k or less per month, so certainly consider these options if you’re hell-bent on living in Manhattan.

Skyline Views

View of Manhattan from Buckwick rooftop

Manhattan takes the cake for having the most legendary skyline of all the boroughs, but what use is that if you can’t even see it most of the time? Most Manhattan apartments will have their views obscured or limited by buildings around them. If skyline views are your thing, an apartment on the east side of the East River- perhaps Astoria, Williamsburg, or Greenpoint– might be your best bet.

Big City Life vs. Community

block party

There is no doubt that Manhattan is what makes New York so famous: the towering skyscrapers, the flashing neon lights, the contagious, fast paced energy. It can be an incredible life experience to live day-to-day in this incredibly dynamic borough.

Manhattan always has hoards of people, many of whom are tourists from all around the world, wealthy out-of-towners with pied-a-terre apartments, and students living on campus in the city. While this makes for an exciting, ever-changing atmosphere, it also makes it slightly more difficult to establish meaningful connections.

If you find yourself yearning for more of a suburban feel where you can still maintain easy access to Manhattan, Brooklyn might be the better choice. There is a greater sense of community here, and the neighborhoods in Brooklyn are more tightly-knit, making it much easier to make meaningful connections with quality people.

World-Class Dining vs. Foodie Paradise

fine dining

Manhattan was always the capital for more refined, higher-end fine dining restaurants. Brooklyn, which has many Michelin-starred restaurants itself, is a worthy contender for fine-dining. However, the borough also appeals to the masses with inexpensive, delicious food made with pride served in a more casual atmosphere.

As a whole, New York City has 453 Michelin-starred restaurants. Manhattan has 303 of those restaurants, outdoing Brooklyn in that category. But Michelin stars don’t always give the full picture. Foodies would miss out on SO MUCH if they rely solely on the Michelin guide when eating in New York City.   The guide is heavily angled towards a specific type of classical French cuisine, which is always fantastic, yet is such a narrow lens through which to view excellent cuisine. Even chefs who have won Michelin stars have increasingly been handing them back, complaining that the system completely stifles creativity, and takes the love and joy out of cooking.

independent chef

Much like in the music industry, talented creatives are breaking free from the shackles of the rigid-thinking systems, like the Michelin guide, that stifle and exploit their talents until there is no love left. Food that’s made with love tastes better than food made with seething resentment.

A culinary scene unlike any other

For this reason, an argument could be made that Brooklyn is the ultimate foodie paradise. Yes, you’ll find plenty of fine dining here. But you’ll also find way more casual foodie staples like Smorgasburg and Dekalb Market Hall, where eaters can enjoy high-quality cuisine at everyday prices.

food truck

There’s nothing like watching the sunset over the East River with Mofongo in one hand and a yellow labrador’s leash in the other. Manhattan’s food scene doesn’t always permit that kind of atmosphere.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift in the food industry, the growth of Brooklyn restaurants is slowly overtaking the growth of Manhattan restaurants. Let’s take a look at the share (percentage) of new NYC restaurants opened in each borough by year. The following figures are from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:


Manhattan vs Brooklyn Attractions

empire state building

From the Empire State Building, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the shows on and off Broadway, there is no better place for attractions than Manhattan. However, living in Manhattan means you will constantly be tripping over tourists who don’t know their way around the city.

If you’re a fan of museums and shows but want to stay in Brooklyn remember it’s only a 10-20  minute Subway ride to the insanity of Midtown and all its attractions. Also consider that Brooklyn has its own legendary attractions, like the Cyclone in Luna Park on Brooklyn’s Coney Island. You’ll also find Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which has a wide array of attractions, such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park Zoo, that keep the community engaged with nature and entertained.

New York City’s Best Borough

metropolis moving truck

There are many fantastic reasons to love both Brooklyn and Manhattan. However, where you choose to live depends on what you’re looking for. The case for living in Manhattan is very obvious: you are essentially living in the center of the universe. Living in Manhattan gives you access to everything that makes New York City legendary without needing to cross the East River.

There is also a strong case for living in Brooklyn. It is a slightly more affordable (or less financially devastating) option for those who want to spend their time in Manhattan but leave the borough and go home to Brooklyn, where it is easier to establish meaningful connections with a community of creative, young, forward-thinking people. Brooklyn is also more family-friendly, due to the strong sense of community that fosters an inclusive environment.

Metropolis Moving has extensive experience with both boroughs. We have the expertise necessary to ensure a smooth transition into your new home, whether that’s in Brooklyn or in Manhattan. Get a quote today and you’ll be on your way to living the life you envision for yourself.

map of New York City