The Ultimate Neighborhood Guide
Finding a place to live means many things. It can be the beginning - or the end - of your social life. It can change the trajectory of your savings plan (if you were smart enough to come with one). It can expose you to some of the best foods in the city, the shadiest characters, kindle a love for Seamless, fuel a hatred for anything rent-controlled, and everything else in between. We've started with Manhattan 'hoods because newcomers should always at least experience "New York" in all its glory. For returnees, there's other boroughs in there too. Once you're settle in, make sure to check out what's fun to do in your 'hood as well as all those places you need to go get your nosh on.
What people are referring to when they say "New York City"
Everyone in the movies gets out of a taxi and arrives here. Times Square! Rock Center! Grand Central! But hey, you’re not in a movie and you’re probably still riding your 30 day MTA card so…
Pros: The Top of the Rock does have objectively beautiful views of the skyline.
Cons: Tourists. More tourists. GOD DAMN I JUST WANT TO GET TO 42ND STREET SUBWAY. Restaurant Row, aka the definition of irony.
Come for bottomless brunch and stay for those cute French bulldogs as you drink your mimosa. This area is great for single women (lots of compliments!), gay men, and people who like dogs. There are also a ton of art galleries if you’re one of those sophisticated types.
Pros: Chelsea Market. The High Line. Art galleries.
Cons: Feeling inferior next to all the hot, ripped, well-groomed gay men at the gym. This applies to both sexes.
This area was looking forlorn after Wall Street moved uptown and Sandy engulfed this area, but now it's being "revitalized" with lots of chain stores. Rent is more affordable here, even in those ‘luxury’ apartments.
Pros: The Dead Rabbit. Easy access to Governor's Island in the summer.
Cons: Wait, where did everyone go? It’s 7PM.
Sprawling with good eats, good drinks and weird “New York-y” things, East Village is the destination for Manhattan dwellers on their off days. Who cares if it's annoying to get to via subway? If you live here, your friends will come to you.
Pros: Basically anything you want to eat or drink. Little Japan.
Cons: The hostess isn't joking about that 2 hour wait at 10:30pm for dinner.
Alphabet City has a strong sense of neighborhood and lots of great food and bars. While it is even more impossible to access via subway than East Village, this does drive rent down dramatically. It was once known as a dangerous part of the city, and while it’s now seen as relatively tame most establishments don’t go past ‘C’.
Pros: Neighbors that aren't assholes.
Cons: Some places can still be uneasy at night off when you veer off the main strip.
East Village's “classier” older sister. Drinks are more expensive, Cameron Diaz and other celebrities live here, and you'll have to auction off you and your spouse's liver to get a decent sized place here. Yes, it’s irritating to get to via subway, but if you live here you probably don’t take public transport anyway.
Pros: Every restaurant, bar, wine bar, coffeeshop or knick-knack store here will make you say "gosh, I love this decor!"
Cons: Chihuahuas dressed in clothes, have their nails painted, or have something else entirely un-canine-esque forced upon them. Snobby people.
Greenwich Village is a slightly discombobulated but very cultural part of New York City. There’s lots of great food (many of them cheap options for students) plus some great comedy and jazz places too. Rent prices are steep though, and demand high. Technically, West Village is part of Greenwich Village but everyone knows this is really a lie.
Cons: Spoiled NYU kids.
Once a not-particularly residential area, the High Line has made this area über posh in recent years. Dudes and aspirational trophy wives love to prowl this cobblestoned area at night, so you are best leaving your personality elsewhere.
Pros: Drunk men and women yelling, arguing, crying and the like at night which can be ferociously entertaining (or very annoying).
Cons: Newcomers or visitors to NYC trying to "go hard!!!!1111!!" + alcohol = you can only imagine.
Once a grimy, literally slum-filled area of Manhattan is now one of the island's most expensive retail zip codes. Gentrification comes in the form of boozy brunch, rooftop bars, New American food and expensive pastries.
Pros: Less douch-ey bars and clubs than Meatpacking. Restaurant equipment and lighting stores…if you happen to be in the market for an industrial sausage maker or 3 story chandelier.
Cons: It’s 8pm and the entirety of Manhattan is here.
Not actually a bad area to live, if you don't mind being run over by little Asian grandmas with carts. The streets aren't the cleanest but heck, you'll have the best drunk food in town - and it's only $1! Anything and everything (including parts of animals you didn't know existed) is here and yours for the buying.
Pros: Excellent Asian food, primarily Chinese.
Cons: Terrible, Americanized Italian food with pushy greeters in Little Italy. The sea of counterfeit items along Canal St.
Only correct if you say it like, "Brooooooooooooklyn!"
You're probably not too much of a hipster if your salary allows you to afford a place in the super-gentrified Williamsburg. But with enough red lipstick, decade defying mustaches, and ironic teeshirts you can probably convince yourself otherwise.
Cons: Have fun with the impending L train shutoff!
Just across the river from Manhattan, families tend to flock here for some open space. There are some cute (albeit kitschy) stores and things here, and rent ain’t cheap…but it's safe and the views are seriously impressive.
Pros: Sweeping views of Manhattan. The Brooklyn promenade. Fulton Ferry State Park.
Cons: Super duper domesticated stuff, if that isn’t your thing. People lining up for Grimaldi's all the damn time (it's not that good ok).
It's been coined as the up and coming neighborhood of NYC (a few years ago...) but Park Slope will remind you it's awesome and here to stay. There are plenty of strollers here, but it’s still seen as fun and hip…and has good pie. Think of it as the ‘burbs, without all the annoying features like strip malls and Walmart.
Pros: Prospect Park. Park Slope Food Co-Op.
Cons: It’s still pretty far away & an inconvenient commute from Manhattan, so giddy up for some subway action.
The brownstones here are the only ones with extended lawns (yes really!) and are usually all proudly kept in immaculate condition. However, you will be so impossibly far away from your friends in the city no one will get to admire them.
Pros: So pretty, quiet and nice for a starter family…if that’s you.
Cons: There's like, one subway line that goes here, sometimes.