7 Best Neighborhoods in New York City, NY

Best Places to Live in New York City

What are the best neighborhoods in New York City? We chose 7 of our favorites, listed the reasons why, and included local hot spots that make these neighborhoods special places to live!

New York City is known to be the largest metropolitan area in the United States. Recognized for its thriving financial district and awe-inspiring skyscrapers, the city stands as a beacon of freedom and hope for people all over the world. While the Statue of Liberty stands as a gateway to the land of opportunity, nearly 900,000 people are moving to New York City every single year. Even though the city is famous for its large expenses and high rent prices, there are plenty of fantastic neighborhoods and safe areas that can fit any budget.

What are the best neighborhoods in New York City, NY? Here are the best places to live in New York City!

Comprised of five separate boroughs, residents should first decide whether they want to live in Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, or Staten Island. Located in different sections throughout the city, each borough has its own unique vibe and amenities for its residents. Whether you want to live in a trendy and chic neighborhood or an industrial and artsy district, New York City has a place for you. With so many people moving to the state of New York it's no surprise New York City is one of the most popular destinations for those relocating. We have put together another great list if you decide that living in New York City is not for you and want to check out some of the other best places to live in the state of New York.

If you are among the throngs of people that are flocking to New York City then you are probably wondering which neighborhoods are the best to call home. While moving here can be thrilling and exciting, finding a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle can be challenging and overwhelming. With the help of this neighborhood guide, find out about the coolest neighborhoods in the area and where you should live in New York City in 2021. 

Read on to learn more about the 7 Best Neighborhoods in New York City!

Central Park New York City with people enjoying a sunny day outside and relaxing

1. Upper East Side 

As depicted in the hit television series Gossip Girl, The Upper East Side is a posh and exclusive residential neighborhood in Manhattan. Considered one of the most affluent neighborhoods in all of New York City, The Upper East Side is the safest neighborhood in Manhattan and has some of the most upscale real estate in the area. Known for its highly-rated prep schools, designer boutiques, classy eateries, and luxurious townhomes, this is a beautiful neighborhood that offers its residents a sense of peace and quiet away from busy city life. Featuring a mixture of high-rise apartments and brownstones, this dense urban neighborhood is found in a perfect location next to Central Park.

Local Favorites: 

  • Museum Mile: Located on Fifth Avenue, this stretch of museums features the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Neue Galerie. 

  • Carl Schurz Park: This 14.9-acre park features a beautiful green space that overlooks the river. This is a great place to go on a walk and bring the dog. 

  • East River Greenway: This 9.44-mile long greenway is perfect for walking, running, and biking through Manhattan. 

  • The Penrose: Featuring an extensive whiskey list, sip on craft cocktails in this vintage bar. 

  • Boqueria: Enjoy fresh ingredients and Barcelona-style tapas in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The menu changes by season so there is always something new to try.

Central Park in New York City is located in the center of Manhattan with neighboring areas like Upper East Side and the Upper West Side

2. Upper West Side

Known to be one of the greenest neighborhoods in Manhattan, The Upper West Side is bordered by Central Park and the Hudson Riverside. Embracing cultural diversity and art, this neighborhood has become a hub for artists, filmmakers, and writers for its poetic beauty and serene lifestyle. Featuring both high-rise apartments and luxurious townhomes, rent prices are more affordable in the northern section of the neighborhood. Offering its residents a small-town and quiet feel, this is a good place to raise a family. From its tree-lined streets to its welcoming brick buildings, it is easy to see why the Upper West Side is one of the best neighborhoods in New York City. 

Local Favorites: 

  • American Museum of Natural History: Located across the street from Central Park, this museum houses fossils, plants, animals, rocks, and interesting artifacts. This is a cool place to bring the family to learn about the natural world. 

  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts: The home of the American Ballet and The Metropolitan Opera. Visit for live performances of theatre, dance, live music, and opera. 

  • The Hayden Planetarium: Learn about space, planets, and the solar system in this interactive planetary experience. 

  • Children’s Museum of Manhattan: Open since the 1970s, this children’s museum welcomes thousands of kids every year. This is a great space for toddlers. 

  • New-York Historical Society: Founded in 1804, this historical society was New York’s first museum. Now a New York City landmark, this museum features themed exhibits and research programs.

Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side of Manhattan is the most iconic deli in the world

3. Lower East Side

Often referred to as LES, this neighborhood in Manhattan has a more unique and hip vibe that draws in younger crowds. Full of tons of history, this part of town was once a popular spot for European immigrants to call home in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Located next to Chinatown and Little Italy, the Lower East Side is a trendy and eclectic place to live that is steps away from the neighboring borough of Brooklyn. Best known for its rich Jewish history, residents can be seen shopping at a trendy boutique or dining at a family-owned cafe. The real estate in this neighborhood ranges from historic apartment buildings to upscale townhomes. 

Local Favorites: 

  • Katz’s Delicatessan: Serving arguably the best pastrami sandwich in all of New York City. This restaurant has been open since 1888. 

  • Russ and Daughters: Open for more than 100 years, this bagel shop is a popular spot for breakfast. 

  • Tenement Museum: Learn about how immigrants lived in the late 19th and early 20th century at this museum. Located in a historical building that once housed 15,000 people.

  • The Fools Gold Bar: This cocktail bar has local brews and seasonal drinks to enjoy. If you are hungry, order the burger and other quick bites. 

  • Pier 35: Offering amazing views of the East River, this is a beautiful place to sit down and relax near the waterfront.

4. SoHo

Located south of Houston Street, the neighborhood of SoHo is the premier shopping district in New York City. Home to high-end boutiques, specialty shops, top-rated restaurants, and prestigious art galleries, SoHo is the place to be for luxury living. An artsy neighborhood that blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s, this lower Manhattan hotspot features spacious lofts, historical architecture, and cobblestone streets. While the real estate may be expensive, residents are paying for convenience and the amenities that come with living in this desirable area. In our opinion - SoHo is one of the best neighborhoods in New York City.

Local Favorites:  

  • The Drawing Center: This museum and exhibition space focuses on the art of drawing. 

  • Balthazar: Serving French favorites and pastries in an elegant atmosphere. Open since 1997, this is the perfect date night location. 

  • 12 Chairs Cafe: If you love all things Mediterranean food then make sure to check out this joint. The falafel and hummus here are phenomenal. 

  • Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer: The go-to spot for gourmet burgers, milkshakes, and craft beer. The portions are large and the food is always tasty. 

  • Aurora SoHo: Serving rustic and authentic Italian dishes in a beautiful setting.

New York City streets and buildings with a yellow taxi cab and people walking by in the background in Manhattan

5. Financial District

Home of Wall Street and the New York City Stock Exchange, the Financial District is a unique neighborhood that is focused on all things business-related. A great place to live for young professionals and business moguls, this neighborhood is full of iconic skyscrapers and world-class companies. Extremely walkable and pedestrian-friendly, the streets are always filled with residents headed to and from work. Known to be a very safe place to live, dine at a nice restaurant, or grab a drink at a festive bar after a long work week. The Financial District is also the location of the September 11th Memorial and Museum which is found where the Twin Towers once stood. 

Local Favorites: 

  • One World Trade Center: This rebuilt World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and the seventh tallest building in the world. There is an observatory on the top floors. 

  • Federal Hall: This historic building once served as a United States sub-treasury and now stands as a museum and memorial. 

  • Trinity Church: A historical church and parish that stands at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. 

  • The Capital Grille: Enjoy fine dining at this upscale steakhouse. 

  • Clinton Hall: Head to this beer garden for pub food and even better beer. Known as a great after-work hangout, get a group of friends together to play a game of ping-pong.

6. Brooklyn Heights

Recognized as the first historic district in New York City, the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights provides a glimpse into the past through its beautiful architecture and historical landmarks. A prime Brooklyn neighborhood, this residential area along the East River provides its residents with unbeatable views of Manhattan and the iconic Statue of Liberty. Featuring bars, coffee shops, bookstores, parks, and highly-rated schools, it is no surprise that families and young professionals are deciding to call this neighborhood home. While life here may be picture-perfect, prepare to spend a lot of money on the home of your dreams since Brooklyn Heights is the most expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn. 

Local Favorites:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: This waterfront park along the East River is an 85-acre park that is open to the public every day throughout the year. This is a great spot for a picnic right next to the Brooklyn Bridge. 

  • New York Transit Museum: Located in an old subway station, head to this museum to learn all about the New York City subway system, the bus line, and the railway. 

  • Henry’s End: If you want to be adventurous then make sure to check out this Brooklyn restaurant. Serving wild game and fresh ingredients, this spot has been a local favorite since its opening in 1973. 

  • The River Cafe: Found in Brooklyn Bridge Park, this amazing restaurant is a true gem in Brooklyn. Providing gorgeous views of Manhattan, dine on New American fare in a recently renovated space. 

  • Colonie: Known for its delicious brunch, seasonal ingredients, and innovative cocktails.

7. West Village

The neighborhood of West Village is the place to be for classic New York style and charming architecture. From its shaded tree-lined cobblestone streets to its many cozy coffee shops, West Village is a quiet and romantic area in Manhattan. Described as laid-back and picturesque, it is easy to fall in love with its artsy ambiance. Featuring Federal-style townhomes and beautiful apartments along the Hudson River, West Village is ranked among the topmost expensive neighborhoods in New York City. With a below-average crime rate, fantastic food spots, and exciting nightlife, this neighborhood is a top choice for young professionals, couples, and families. Often compared to the neighborhood of the East Village, this side of town is popularized for its exclusive jazz clubs, theatres, cabarets, public parks, and chic bar scene.

Local Favorites:

  • Stonewall National Monument: Known as a National Historic Landmark and notorious gay bar, this landmark launched the gay rights movement and was the site of the 1969 riots. Enjoy craft cocktails and drag shows upstairs. 

  • Museum of Illusions: This interactive museum is fun for the whole family and features reverse rooms, holograms, and never-ending illusions. General admission tickets are $25. 

  • Village Vanguard Jazz Club: This famous jazz club is one of the oldest operating jazz clubs in New York City. 

  • Boucherie: Serving French dishes in an airy atmosphere. The cocktails here might even include absinthe. This is the go-to spot for happy hour. 

  • Sant Ambroeus West Village: Check out this trendy Italian cafe for authentic dishes, gelato, and espresso. Not only is this an easy spot to walk to, but this is the perfect place for special occasions and gatherings. Make sure to order pasta and save room for dessert.

Day time Empire State Building in New York City Manhattan

Best Neighborhoods in NYC - The Bottom Line

Even though you may need a high salary to live comfortably in New York City, there are plenty of nice and safe neighborhoods to choose from. Whether you decide to live in an upscale area of Manhattan or near the waterfront in Brooklyn, there is bound to be a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle. With the help of our trusty team of Realty Specialists, the home buying process in “The Big Apple” will be an easy task. Contact us today to find your dream neighborhood in New York City!

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.