Whether your lease is running out, you’re about to move to NYC for the first time, or you just need a change, moving to a new neighborhood is always exciting (if a bit overwhelming, given the number of different NYC neighborhoods).
They also seem to have monthly mood swings, according to Thrillist, as their vibe and feel can randomly change within a few weeks as shops open and close.
That’s why we created our Neighborhood Guides to give you an overview of NYC’s neighborhoods. But if you’d just like to get a crash course on NYC’s different areas, check out our breakdown below.
Before there’s an outcry (because I’ve basically just blended 20 different neighborhoods into one), there is a reason that I said “Downtown Manhattan.” The uptown versus downtown battle is a great topic to debate at a bar, during lunch hour, or at parties. Writer Marilyn La Jeunesse fiercely defends her downtown turf, “the heart and soul of New York City lies beneath 14th Street.”
What it’s all about: Downtown Manhattan has a reputation for being lively and full of bars, restaurants, trendy new hot spots, and clubs. The student-friendly Union Square area, artsy TriBeCa, and the bar-heavy East Village area all have that in common. They do differ from each other (especially in price!) but let’s not make this too complicated.
Prices: TriBeCa is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to prices, while Alphabet City in the East Village serves the lower budgets.
Defined as the area above 59th Street, Uptown Manhattan stretches all the way up to Inwood. While a number of neighborhoods fall within this area, Uptown Manhattan does have a collective character. It’s reserved for more laidback people, as the farther you go uptown the calmer and more spacious it gets.
What it’s all about: Uptown Manhattan, with Central Park smack in the middle, is a recreational dream in an urban setting. Even though the Upper East Side and Upper West Side differ greatly, Upper Manhattan does have some common characteristics when compared to its downtown counterpart. The Museum Mile with its world-renowned museums, the high-end stretch of Fifth Avenue, and the adorable townhouse-studded streets in Harlem are just a few highlights. Bluntly put, uptown locals would be stressed out by downtown’s liveliness, while downtown residents could describe uptown as a bore.
Prices: The higher you go the more prices fall as proximity to midtown and downtown action comes at a cost. Check out Inwood for seriously affordable living, or reside at Columbus Circle for a more upscale experience.
Contrary to popular belief, not everybody wants to live in Manhattan. In fact, there are neighborhoods in Brooklyn that are every Manhattanite’s dream, like DUMBO or Brooklyn Heights. Their extreme proximity to downtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the East River have made their popularity skyrocket.
What it’s all about: While attracting a lot of tourists, the area surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge is still a hot destination for New Yorkers as well. To get an amazing view of the Brooklyn Bridge from above, visit the One Hotel Rooftop, located just off Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Prices: DUMBO is definitely on the more expensive side, while prices in Brooklyn Heights have actually gone down from last year, according to Urban Digs.
Hot and Coming Brooklyn
As mentioned above, NYC’s hottest neighborhoods seem to change by the month, and Brooklyn is the perfect example. An area that is affordable and slightly unpopular can become a hot spot the masses flock to within a few weeks. Think the evolution of areas like Williamsburg, Bushwick, or Prospect Park.
What it’s all about: Come here for amazing street art, the famous Smorgasburg Market (taking place in Williamsburg on Saturdays and in Prospect Park on Sundays), and trendy bars and cafes. Stay here for still relatively low prices and a relaxed, open-minded vibe.
Prices: Bushwick serves the budget-conscious, while Williamsburg has experienced a rise in prices.
Kings and Queens of Queens
Astoria, Sunnyside, and Flushing are all gaining more and more attention from Manhattanites looking for a more affordable and calmer alternative. In particular, Flushing could be a good neighborhood to invest in, as prices have been skyrocketing this year thanks to new development, according to the New York Post. Find out how to spot an up-and-coming neighborhood here.
To have fun like a tourist in Queens, check out this local travel guide, that will make you forget all about Manhattan.
Prices: Kew Gardens is a good place to rent or buy for lower budgets, while Jackson Heights’ prices are more and more on the rise.