Best Neighborhoods in NYC: Where to live in 2021

NYC is back, baby! The energy of the city has returned in full force since the onset of the pandemic. Our lives may be close to normal, but our preferences may have shifted during the pandemic. Perhaps, some New Yorkers no longer want to live with their former roommates after being locked down with them for months. Others may have learned that remote work may become a permanent fixture and thus no longer have to consider proximity to the office when finding a new place. So let’s get to it: what are the best neighborhoods to live in NYC in 2021? 

What is the best neighborhood to live in NYC?

This question may get you into a bit of trouble, as New Yorkers may have a hard time agreeing on their favorite neighborhood. However, traditionally people typically pine after neighborhoods like the West Village (also known as Greenwich Village or “The Village”, Gramercy Park, the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side. Many of these NYC neighborhoods are featured in classic movies and TV shows, providing a romantic and cinematic vibe. 

Neighborhoods that have easy access to greenspaces like Washington Square Park, Central Park and Prospect Park also tend to be desirable. But every neighborhood offers a different advantage depending on what you are looking for: nightlife, affordability, good subway lines, coffee shops and other amenities key to maintaining a good quality of life. 

Things to know before you start:
  1. Not all rents are created equal in NYC, so it’s important to know where to look for a good deal. Understanding where you can get a good deal takes a little bit of sleuthing, especially post-pandemic. Prices have dropped in plenty of neighborhoods, but have been picking back up over the past summer, so be prepared for some fluctuations in price. Typically, affordable rents can be found in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, Astoria in Queens and even the Yorkville area of the Upper East Side. 

  2. Get to know the outer boroughs! NYC is more than just Manhattan; there are 5 different boroughs, each with their own flair and lifestyle. When deciding on your borough, be sure to do research and visit a few. Some boroughs like Brooklyn are known for their trendy and bohemian neighborhoods, while Queens is full of delicious cultural delicacies and linguistic diversity. 

  3. Broadway is the longest avenue in NYC! This is good to know when looking at apartments, because addresses along Broadway can be miles apart. In total, Broadway is almost 33 miles long, so it’s important to get acquainted. The thoroughfare starts at the lower tip of Manhattan near Bowling Green (by the Financial District), goes through Midtown, West Harlem, upper Manhattan and extends all the way into the Bronx and out of NYC proper and into Yonkers. Broadway is also famously home to many of the big theatres in NYC (these are located closer to Times Square/ Hell’s Kitchen area). 

  4. The best neighborhoods for NYC nightlife are in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you want to be near cool bars and clubs, be sure to check out neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District, SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, The Lower East Side, East Village, Williamsburg, and Bushwick. If you are more into Sports Bars, you may spend a lot of time in Murray Hill or near Union Square. 

  5. Snagging a decent NYC apartment can be tricky so you should know what to look for. Most NYC apartments are quite old and don’t have elevators or laundry in the building. You may also find yourself in a unit without an A/C during the sweltering summer months. When looking for apartments be sure to ask these types of questions (Is there laundry in the building or nearby?) (Is this unit rent stabilized?). Also ask about utilities and other bills to see what is included in the rent price. Sometimes heat and hot water are included. 

  6. Learn about hidden realtor fees. Though it’s been getting easier to find a no-fee apartment, some units may still charge a broker’s fee or an application fee. Be sure to learn about these types of additional fees and whether or not they are legal as NYC rent laws keep changing.

Where should I avoid in NYC? What's the worst neighborhood in NYC?

New Yorkers love talking about how much they hate Times Square, but this is mostly an inside joke amongst us and doesn’t mean that it’s not worth a visit. New Yorkers simply love poking fun at tourists. 

Though it may sound cheesy, there really are no neighborhoods to avoid in NYC. Every area is full of history, culture, delicious eateries, beautiful brownstones and excellent bars that are worthwhile to visit. Of course, maybe not all of these neighborhoods may be suitable for your lifestyle, but checking out new neighborhoods is one of the best parts of living in New York City. 

What salary do you need to live comfortably in NYC?

New Yorkers need to hustle quite a bit to afford their expensive lifestyles. It’s no secret that the cost of living in NYC is one of the highest in the world; a one-bedroom apartment in NYC will cost you an average of $3000 per month.  

You will probably need an annual salary of around $50,000 before taxes to pay for rent, cover monthly expenses and have some money left over afterwards. While plenty of New Yorkers make under that salary, you may find it difficult to live comfortably and stay afloat. Those who make around $45,000 will typically just break even after taxes and paying for monthly expenses. To live comfortably with this salary, we recommend finding roommates to help split living costs. 

Where do the rich live in NYC?

Neighborhoods in NYC keep changing, which means that nowadays the rich may congregate in areas that they would have avoided a few decades ago. Manhattan neighborhoods like TriBeCa are some of the most expensive and desirable, but used to be home to warehouses and industrial plants. Chelsea is also another neighborhood that was once known for its gritty and underground LGBTQ scene, but is now home to luxury art galleries, the high-line and expensive real estate. 

Brooklyn has also changed in its demographics. What was once a popular destination for not just hipsters, is now attracting the super-wealthy. Areas like Dumbo and Cobble Hill have skyrocketed in price and now are at the top of real estate budgets in the big apple. 

Some wealthier New Yorkers may prefer quaint townhomes while others may seek luxury full-service properties with amenities like pools, doormen, gyms and roof decks. Many of these luxury properties are equipped with million dollar waterfront views of the East River and Hudson River and are common in areas like Midtown Manhattan and Battery Park City. 

Another famously wealthy area of NYC is the Upper East Side, which is lined with mansions once belonging to Rockefellers and Carnegies. This uptown neighborhood has an upscale feeling and offers walking distance to globally renowned art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.


Be sure to contact movers in NYC to learn about moving costs and other details to plan your move. Hiring professional Manhattan Movers can be a crucial first step to moving to NYC.

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