Boroughs To Live in NYC: Explained


Aerial view of diverse boroughs in New York City during daytime, illustrating the variety of living options in NYC

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

New York City is divided into five distinct boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, each with its own personality and unique features. Choosing the right borough to call home can be daunting, especially for people new to the city.

If you’re wondering which borough is the best in New York, this article will break down the characteristics and cost of living of each, as well as the transportation options and cultural attractions, to help you make an informed decision about where to live in NYC.

Five Boroughs of NYC:

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Manhattan, the most densely populated borough of New York City, is a sought-after destination. Known for its iconic skyline, bustling streets, and diverse neighborhoods, it’s considered the best borough to live in NYC.

The cost of living in Manhattan can be high (though thankfully the city’s housing court offers great protections for tenants meaning renters won’t need to worry about facing evictions through NYC small claims courts)., with steep rent prices, but it has excellent transportation. The subway is the most popular and affordable way to get around, with 24-hour service and extensive coverage throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs.

Also, there are several bus routes and yellow taxis. If you prefer to bike, Citi Bike offers a bike-sharing program throughout the city.

If you’re looking to move to Manhattan, the top neighborhoods in Manhattan include;

  • The Upper East Side: Known for its luxury apartments, world-class museums, and proximity to Central Park
  • The West Village: A trendy and charming neighborhood with a bustling nightlife and beautiful brownstone buildings
  • SoHo: An artsy and fashionable area with a mix of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and galleries
  • Harlem:  A historic and culturally rich neighborhood with soul food, jazz clubs, and iconic landmarks

Manhattan also has numerous cultural attractions, such as world-class museums, theaters, and galleries. Popular museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the American Museum of Natural History. Moreover, there’s a thriving theater district, with Broadway shows and off-Broadway productions attracting millions of visitors annually.

Manhattan offers diverse job opportunities, vibrant nightlife, and easy access to cultural events and attractions. However, living in Manhattan has some downsides, such as high rent prices, crowds, noise pollution, and a lack of green spaces.


Illuminated multicolored building at night under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, showcasing vibrant living options in NYC boroughs

In recent years, Brooklyn, the largest borough in New York City, has emerged as a cultural and creative hub. It has diverse neighborhoods, beautiful parks, and a vibrant arts scene.

The cost of living in Brooklyn is generally lower than in Manhattan, making it an attractive option for many young professionals and families.

Popular neighborhoods in Brooklyn include;

  • Williamsburg: A trendy and hipster neighborhood with a bustling nightlife and creative scene.
  • Park Slope: A family-friendly neighborhood with beautiful brownstone homes and access to Prospect Park.
  • Brooklyn Heights: An upscale neighborhood with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and beautiful historic buildings.
  • Bushwick: A diverse and rapidly gentrifying neighborhood with a thriving art and music scene.

In terms of transportation, Brooklyn has a comprehensive subway system, buses, and taxis. However, some neighborhoods may be farther from Manhattan and have longer commute times.

Attractions in Brooklyn include The Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music. Additionally, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a popular attraction with a range of plant collections and outdoor spaces to explore.

Some advantages of living in Brooklyn include a lower cost of living than in Manhattan, a thriving arts and music scene, access to beaches and waterfront areas, beautiful parks and green spaces, and a diverse range of restaurants and food options.

On the downside, streets and sidewalks can be crowded, especially in trendy neighborhoods, and some areas have limited nightlife options compared to Manhattan.


Queens is a large and diverse borough in New York City that offers a more affordable cost of living than Manhattan and some parts of Brooklyn. 

Public transportation in Queens is excellent, with multiple subway lines and buses running throughout the borough. Queens is also home to two major airports, JFK and LaGuardia.

Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Queens include:

  • Astoria: A vibrant and diverse neighborhood known for its excellent restaurants, nightlife, and waterfront park.
  • Long Island City: A rapidly developing neighborhood with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, art galleries, and a thriving arts scene.
  • Jackson Heights: A multicultural neighborhood with a bustling commercial district, excellent food options, and access to several public parks.
  • Forest Hills: A leafy residential neighborhood with a charming commercial district and easy access to Forest Park.

Visit the Queens Museum, which features a collection of over 10,000 objects related to the borough’s history, the Museum of the Moving Image, the New York Hall of Science, and the Queens Botanical Garden.

There are also beautiful parks, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, home to the iconic Sunsphere and several sports facilities.

Queens is affordable, diverse, and has easy access to transportation. But living in Queens can also mean longer commutes to Manhattan and other parts of the city, and some areas may be more isolated than others.

The Bronx

baseball Bronx field photo

The Bronx is often overlooked as a borough to live in, but it has a lot to offer. Located in northernmost New York City, the Bronx is the only borough primarily on the mainland. It is worth considering and the best borough in New York if you’re looking for a more affordable option than Manhattan or Brooklyn.

It is also home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden, and Yankee Stadium. The Grand Concourse, a wide boulevard lined with art deco buildings, runs through the borough and is a popular destination for food, culture, and entertainment.

One of the best things about the Bronx is its extensive public transportation system. The subway runs throughout the borough, making it easy to get around. The Metro-North Railroad also has multiple stops in the Bronx, which is great for commuters who work in Westchester County or Connecticut.

Riverdale is a more affluent neighborhood with beautiful homes and stunning views of the Hudson River. On the other hand, the South Bronx is a more affordable area that has been revitalized in recent years, while Pelham Bay is famous for its parks and beaches.

On the positive side, The Bronx is more affordable than other boroughs and has plenty of green spaces. However, it can be pretty crowded, and some areas may not feel as safe as others.

Staten Island

Also known as the “forgotten borough,” Staten Island is the southernmost borough of New York City and the least populated one. It has beautiful parks and beaches and a suburban feel.

If you’re looking for a quieter and more affordable living option in NYC, Staten Island might be the best and the safest borough to live in New York.

The Staten Island Ferry, which offers free rides to Manhattan, connects the borough to the rest of the city. It also has a bus and train network that makes navigating easy.

You’ll love visiting the Staten Island Zoo, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, and the Conference House Park. The several beaches and scenic waterfront areas are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking.

St. George neighborhood is the cultural and commercial center of the borough and home to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Dongan Hills is a quiet residential neighborhood with tree-lined streets and a mix of single-family homes and apartments. Other great neighborhoods are New Dorp, Todt Hill, and Oakwood Beach.

Pros of living in Staten Island include affordable housing options, beautiful parks and beaches, and a family-friendly atmosphere. On the downside, there are limited nightlife options.

Experience the Best Borough in NYC

Each of New York City’s five boroughs offers a range of options for people looking to move to the city. You can find the perfect borough to call home based on your budget, needs, and preferences.

Those seeking the hustle and bustle of city life should consider Manhattan or Brooklyn. Queens and the Bronx offer affordable living options with access to cultural and entertainment venues. At the same time, Staten Island provides a more relaxed suburban lifestyle with access to nature and outdoor activities.

No matter which borough you choose, NYC is a city full of life and energy, with something for everyone. So, take the leap and start your journey toward finding your perfect home in the Big Apple!

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