15 Best Places to Live in New York

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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America has always been known as the Land of the Free, and nothing depicts this sense of freedom better than the classic, timeless Statue of Liberty, the country’s most famous landmark.

Standing chivalrously on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, law tablet in one hand, a torch signifying enlightenment on the other, the robed female figure with a crown on her head has always served as a welcome sign for more than a century for the millions of desolate souls who rode past her, a sense of relief engulfing them as they crept through the harbour.

Today, New York is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S., home to almost 21 million people who speak over 200 languages. The city itself, Big Apple, has always been a spectacle, what with its historic structures, famous skyscrapers and beautiful people from the world over.

Beyond the city’s magnificence and its standing as one of the most recognisable in the world, New York has been known for one thing in particular when it comes to life in the big city: the high cost of living. Housing. Food. Transport. Clothing. Taxes (income, property, sales). Entertainment. They are all higher than most other cities in the country.

The hard truth is, budgets are a must for NYC dwellers, and thrift a necessary requirement.

Understandably, New York doesn’t rank too favourably in best places to live lists, including the 2017 U.S. News & World Report which placed it at position 80 out of 100 best cities to live in America.

Let that not put you off though. There is a reason New Yorkers, surprisingly, have a long life expectancy. The Empire State is not short of decent places to call home. With that said, let’s dive into the 15 best places to live in New York.

1. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Bay Ridge, BrooklynSource: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Bay Ridge is often regarded as one of the best neighbourhoods in the coveted borough of Brooklyn.

Homes cost over 1 million, but the going rate depends on the area, with the median price for properties listed in the neighbourhood sitting above the national average, according to popular ranking site, Niche.com.

Bay Ridge has some great schools and plenty of choices to make a pick from, from elementary through high school. Crime and safety rank favourably, and the quiet and peaceful feel of the place makes for just the ideal environment for families.

Over sixty thousand residents of Bay Ridge enjoy good public transport which is extremely accessible, making it even easier to access the amenities close to the area.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Bay Ridge are:

  • Narrows Botanical Gardens
  • Americans Veteran Memorial Pier
  • Fairytale Island
  • Alpine Cinema
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Millennium Skate Park

2. Harlem, Manhattan

Harlem, ManhattanSource: stockelements / shutterstock
Harlem, Manhattan

Harlem may be a surprise inclusion to many, and that’s because the neighbourhood has always received a bad rap as a place drenched in crime, economic stagnation and decaying infrastructure.

But that is the Harlem of old.

The area took a positive turn in the ‘90s when urban renewal efforts started in earnest. Crime dipped and new economic opportunities started springing up. Today, the neighbourhood of around two hundred thousand residents is deemed one of the trendier places to live in New York.

The upturn can be seen in the surging house prices where an average home now goes for over 1 million.

Harlem may not be better than many places in terms of housing and economics, but it has good public schools and generally an ideal environment for families. The nightlife is unlike any other, with trendy eateries, hip bars and stylish clubs aplenty.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Harlem are:

  • Apollo Theater
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Red Rooster Harlem
  • Marcus Garvey Park
  • Bill’s Place
  • Hamilton Grange National Museum
  • The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
  • Riverbank State Park

3. Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan

Battery Park City, Lower ManhattanSource: lazyllama / shutterstock
Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan

Battery Park City is a planned community of over sixteen thousand residents that is set along the Hudson River. It is widely considered one of the best places to live in New York City – just close enough to the hustle and bustle of the big city, yet distant enough as to enjoy some peace and quiet at the waterfront.

Cost of living is reflective of the steep prices of NYC, with the going rate for an average home playing well above the $1 million mark, often ranging between $1,200,000 and $1,500,000. Same case with the rent prices, which are way above the national average.

But that is the price you get to pay for plenty of green parks that offer more than just relaxation. Kids can ride bikes without the obvious dangers that come with riding in a city. Busy parents can let off some steam by running on the esplanade. And pets can accompany their owners to the pet-friendly parks.

Crime here is virtually non-existent, and the neighbourhood promises fantastic views of, among others, the One World Trade (former World Trade Center), the Hudson, and Lady Liberty herself.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Battery Park City are:

  • Castle Clinton National Monument
  • Brookfield Place
  • East Coast Memorial
  • Rockefeller Park
  • The Rink at Brookfield Place
  • The Skyscraper Museum

4. Country Club, Bronx

Country Club, BronxSource: en.wikipedia.org
Country Club, Bronx

Country Club is a small suburb of over eight thousand residents who are mostly a mix of middle class and affluent, with average income levels ranging around $80,000 per household.

One of its biggest draws is the affordable cost of living, and home prices and rent continue to place above the national average.

This does not mean the quality of life has to take a hit.

There are nice schools in the area, with parks and beaches for the whole family to unwind. The neighbourhood promises great parking space for car owners. But it comes with the downside of being a long way from Manhattan, for any family that may have to put up with work or school commutes.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Country Club are:

  • Askari Tours
  • Royal Carriage Rides
  • St. Theresa Feast
  • Skyline Bar
  • Karibbean Krave
  • Pelham Parkway Trail

5. Massapequa Park, Long Island

Massapequa Park, NYSource: hazer2006 / Flickr
Massapequa Park, NY

Massapequa Park is another area in New York that offers an excellent setting for families looking to settle in the state.

For one, homes are affordable in this hamlet of over seventeen thousand residents found within the town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County. Zillow puts the median home value above the national average, quite low according to New York standards.

Its schools rank highly on the GreatSchools ranking site (mostly earning a solid 9 out of 10).

With a trip into Midtown Manhattan via the Long Island Railroad taking less than an hour, this convenient location also allows residents to enjoy the best NYC has to offer in terms of economic and cultural opportunities.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Massapequa Park are:

  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Massapequa Preserve
  • John J Burns Park
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • Jones Beach State Park
  • Tobay Beach
  • The Good Life
  • American AirPower Museum

6. Kenmore, Buffalo

Tonawanda Municipal Building, Kenmore, NYSource: Pubdog / Wikimedia
Tonawanda Municipal Building, Kenmore, NY

Kenmore makes an entry into our list of best places to live in New York for two major reasons: cost of living is one of the lowest you will get anywhere in the Empire State, and public schools are some of the best around.

Median home prices are below the national average (who said New York has to be expensive, right?) with rent prices also some way below the national average. This is definitely welcome news for anyone looking to settle here, but not so much from a real estate investment perspective.

As with Massapequa Park, Kenmore is also technically a village, boasting a population of over fifteen thousand residents. The residents enjoy the great benefit of affordability and nice schools that perform exceptionally well at GreatSchools.

It may sound like some remote middle-of-nowhere place, but Kenmore actually does offer some great employment opportunities, especially in the region’s thriving science and technology fields. And plenty of recreational opportunities to boot (the Niagara River meanders through here).

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kenmore are:

  • The Buffalo Zoo
  • Delaware Park
  • Japanese Garden
  • Kenmore Lanes
  • Adventure Landing Buffalo
  • Ellicott Creek Park
  • Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium

7. Jackson Heights, Queens

Jackson Heights, QueensSource: Jon Chevier™ / Flickr
Jackson Heights, Queens

Jackson Heights makes a case for itself as one of the best places to live in New York for families thanks to easy access to public transport, nice public schools and one of the most diverse populations in the city.

The area is located in the northwestern section of Queens, and houses here fetch over the national average. Steep for most states, yes, over one hundred thousand residents of this neighbourhood deem that fairly attractive, as they do the median rent, which is way above the national average for an apartment in Queens.

When you throw in additional perks such as friendly residents, schools and jobs that are just around the corner, and top-notch medical facilities, the average Joe really couldn’t wish for more.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Jackson Heights are:

  • Museum of the Moving Image
  • Queens Zoo
  • New York Hall of Science
  • Astoria Park
  • Queens Night Market
  • Bowlero
  • Central Park

8. Endwell, Broome County

EndwellSource: PMCC Post Office Photos / Flickr

Still sticking to the affordable cost of living theme, the fact that this hamlet of around twelve thousand residents is preferred mostly by young families and retirees should provide a good clue as to what you can expect.

The area itself is beautiful, perched on a picturesque spot along the scenic Susquehanna River outside the city of Binghamton. It is a friendly neighbourhood, but this is to be expected of family men and retirees, with the area having one of the lowest crime rates in the state.

Median incomes hovers around the national average per household, which is pretty much sufficient in an area where monthly rent is considered normal.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Endwell are:

  • Skate Estate
  • Cinema Saver
  • AMC Vestal Town Square 9
  • Roberson Museum and Science Center
  • Ross Park Zoo
  • Fairways Indoor Golf Co.
  • The Pour House Pub and Grill
  • Rosamond Gifford Park

9. Tribeca, Manhattan

Tribeca, ManhattanSource: Ryan DeBerardinis / shutterstock
Tribeca, Manhattan

Tribeca is short for ‘triangle below Canal Street’, the name of an upscale residential neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan with a population of around seventeen thousand residents.

It is extremely safe and widely regarded as one of the best places to raise a family in the state of New York. Initially, it used to be a thriving business area, but a trend of converting commercial warehouses and buildings into lavish lofts eventually gave way to residential properties.

Its central location offers easy access to every part of Lower Manhattan, but that comes with the drawback of forking out over $3,000 in monthly rent, with homes – condos rather – valued at around 2 million, with some even fetching at a whopping 5 million!

Then again, with the likes of Jay-Z and Taylor Swift to call neighbours, that’s to be expected.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Tribeca are:

  • Pier 25 Mini Golf & Volleyball
  • One World Trade Center
  • One World Observatory
  • The Woolworth Building
  • Pier 26 at Hudson River Park
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Charging Bull Sculpture

10. Kips Bay, Manhattan

Source: en:User:jim.henderson; cropped by Beyond My Ken (talk) / Wikimedia
Kips Bay, Manhattan

You will find Kips Bay between 23rd and 34th streets south of Murray Hill, a laid-back neighbourhood of over thirty-five thousand residents that feels stunningly residential, the backdrop of the bustling streets of NYC notwithstanding.

Perhaps what is most surprising about Kips Bay is how property value has managed to remain affordable. Sure, you will find some properties listed in the millions, but a median home value of around $800,000 is as low as it will ever get.

Median household income stands at six figures and the pet-friendly neighbourhood has plenty to offer in terms of amenities and stuff to do, especially given its prime location.

This is no doubt one of the most reasonable deals you will get in Manhattan.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kips Bay are:

  • AMC Kips Bay 15
  • New York Comedy Club
  • The Morgan Library and Museum
  • Museum of Illusions
  • Empire State Building
  • Stone Creek Bar and Lounge

11. Murray Hill, Manhattan

Murray Hill, ManhattanSource: MDLR Media / shutterstock
Murray Hill, Manhattan

Murray Hill traces its roots back to the mid-19th century times, a period when it was regarded as the most ‘uptown’ neighbourhood in New York City.

More recently in the 1990s, however, the area of over twenty-seven thousand residents witnessed a demographics change from an older population to young professionals looking to raise a family.

As its southern neighbour, Kips Bay, Murray Hill has some prices that are hard to beat in a notoriously expensive city. Median home value stands above the national average, although some condos price themselves in the millions.

The area has more than enough amenities for its small population, including the 2.8-acre St. Vartan Park, with the likes of Gymboree Play and Music center and Kidville providing plenty of children activities.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Murray Hill are:

  • The Morgan Library and Museum
  • AKC Museum of the Dog
  • Peter Dillion’s Pub
  • The Junction Sports Bar
  • Bryant Park
  • The Museum of Modern Art

12. Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

Windsor Terrace, BrooklynSource: a katz / shutterstock
Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

Windsor Terrace is a quaint and serene neighbourhood of over seventeen thousand residents characterised by beautiful historic multi-family homes. It has a suburban aura about it while also offering the convenience of living in the city.

Median household income in this neighbourhood is almost double the national average, standing at six figures. That’s overly sufficient to cater to the low living costs enjoyed around this part of New York where home value averages near 1 million.

There are plenty of good schools in Windsor Terrace, and while they cannot match the standards of some places on this list, the area really shines when it comes to crime and safety, diversity, nightlife, and desirability for families.

There are a myriad delis in the area, but it could use a couple more grocery stores.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Windsor Terrace are:

  • Prospect Park
  • The Double Windsor Pub
  • Terrace Books
  • Prospect Park Zoo
  • Brooklyn Museum

13. Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Prospect Heights, BrooklynSource: Tupungato / shutterstock
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

When most people think of Brooklyn, the image that springs to mind is a neighbourhood of brownstones and brick townhouses dotting the streets; a small business here, a café there, and of course, the mandatory bar.

That’s what you get at Prospect Heights, a neighbourhood of over twenty-two thousand residents that exudes that classic Brooklyn charm.

As in all areas in New York City, though, it comes with a higher price tag, with the median asking rent for one-bedroom apartments playing above the national average.

However, this comes with the guarantee of a low crime rate, proximity to a million-and-one family amenities, great restaurant and night scene, and the beauty to be found in mixing with different ethnicities.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Prospect Heights are:

  • Barclays Center
  • Prospect Park
  • Bearded Lady Bar
  • Branded Saloon
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum

14. Lancaster, Buffalo

Lancaster, New YorkSource: Dougtone / Flickr
Lancaster, New York

Lancaster is a small town of roughly over ten thousand residents that punches well above its weight.

It is here that you will find some of the best public schools in New York, with the town scoring an impressive 9/10 on the ever reliable GreatSchools rankings.

If you are looking to move around the Buffalo area, consider an apartment in Lancaster. The median home value here stands below the national average, making it one of the most affordable areas in the sprawling state. As well, rent is also affordable here.

The low prices may be suggestive of the proverbial neighbours with a couch on the porch, an unkempt lawn and junk cars in the yard. But prices can be misleading in New York.

Its highly rated schools aside, the quiet suburban town has a quaint and easy feel about it, with all the essentials you would need just a stone’s throw away.

Shopping and restaurants are conveniently located. It is a safe area low in crime. And there is plenty for the family to engage in – sledding and ice skating at Como Park and Elma Meadows, some more skating at Canalside and a slew of other sports and town events to partake in.

But perhaps what’s most striking about Lancaster is its incredibly friendly people who have managed to weave a close-knit community that goes out of its way to support its own.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Lancaster are:

  • Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Como Lake Park
  • Six Flags Darien Lake
  • Keysa Park
  • AMF Lancaster Lanes
  • Buffalo Art Museum
  • Adventure Landing
  • 5 Wits
  • Grand Island Fun Center

15. Astoria, Queens

Astoria, QueensSource: Emilymc25 / Wikimedia
Astoria, Queens

With more and more people continuing to show a growing affinity for Brooklyn, the borough of Queens has emerged as one of the most attractive spots for the savvy New Yorker.

Apartments are affordable in Queens, and the place, one of the most diverse urban spaces in the world, is still easily accessible to the city.

Few areas capture this marriage of cost and diversity better than Astoria, a small neighbourhood of over ninety-seven thousand people located across the East River from upper Manhattan.

The incredible cultural diversity of Astoria is evident from the businesses that have sprung up in the area – Korean eateries, Greek tavernas, Pakistani stores, everyone is here.

Some homes here can be considered affordable, with rental prices averaging over $1,000. It is an area designed especially for families, with all the amenities you could ever wish for. Literally.

Astoria is beautiful, accentuated by vast swaths of verdant green. It is convenient in terms of accessibility. And it is extremely safe.

It is one of the most livable places in New York. Easy.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Astoria are:

  • Astoria Park
  • The Noguchi Museum
  • Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Bonnie Bar
  • Belvedere Castle

15 Best Places to Live in New York:

  • Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
  • Harlem, Manhattan
  • Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan
  • Country Club, Bronx
  • Massapequa Park, Long Island
  • Kenmore, Buffalo
  • Jackson Heights, Queens
  • Endwell, Broome County
  • Tribeca, Manhattan
  • Kips Bay, Manhattan
  • Murray Hill, Manhattan
  • Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn
  • Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
  • Lancaster, Buffalo
  • Astoria, Queens