New York is known as the city that never sleeps, and Manhattan is the borough at the center of it all. Living in Manhattan puts you at close range to New York City’s most famous locations and experiences, including Central Park, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and more. Famous locations like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, 30 Rockefeller Place, and Grand Central are located in Manhattan, as are cultural experiences like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Natural History.
Whether you’re moving to attend one of Manhattan’s major universities (like Columbia or NYU), to take a job in finance, film, publishing, or another sector, or just searching for the New York dream so many people move here to chase; Manhattan provides a dynamic lifestyle. Manhattan is one of the top financial and cultural capitals of the world, a hub of entrepreneurship, and a place known for its fast-paced lifestyle. Food, fashion, nightlife, and countless more experiences are waiting for you in your new home. Welcome to Manhattan!
Living in Manhattan, NY: What to Know Before Moving to Manhattan
NYC is the largest and most densely populated city in the United States, with 8,600,000 residents in the city and 20,100,000 in the metro area. Of those, 1,629,000 reside in Manhattan, which is one of the city’s five boroughs. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island are the other four boroughs, and each is a separate county in New York. NYC consists of 303 square miles of densely populated neighborhoods; Manhattan itself covers 23 square miles. While it’s denser, taller, and louder than the city’s other boroughs, it’s also the hub of everything New York.
Pros & Cons of Living in Manhattan
- Cultural center: From museums to concerts to poetry readings and much, much more, you can find something new to do each night and still never experience everything you’d like.
- The density of shops, stores, attractions: Whether you’re looking for new shoes or clothes, groceries, an excursion to an art museum, a performance at a theater, or a bar to spend the evening, you won’t have to look far in Manhattan.
- Close to jobs: If you live and work in Manhattan, your commute will usually be quicker and easier than it is for those traveling in from outer boroughs, New Jersey, or Long Island. Whatever industry you work in, you’ll find you’re close to the action.
- A true melting pot: New York is a diverse hub of different cultural, ethnic, and immigrant groups. You’ll find cuisine and customs from major ethnic groups from around the world.
- Car-free living: If you can’t or prefer not to drive, you’ll find easy access to all modes of public transit and highly walkable neighborhoods.
- The high cost of living: Manhattan is notoriously expensive; you may even find that comparable stores charge more in the city than they do in outer boroughs.
- Small, expensive housing: Living in Manhattan comes at a premium, and you’ll pay more for a smaller space than you would elsewhere in the city. Plus, the high cost of real estate means that owning a house or condo is out of most people’s reach.
- Lines, lines, everywhere: New Yorkers are used to waiting in long lines, whether they’re shopping, eating out, or going to an event. With such a high density of residents in Manhattan, lines are inevitable aspects of daily life.
- Delays in public transit: Although New York City’s transit system is expansive and generally makes getting around easy, many trains, stations, and tracks are old; extensive delays, changes, or cancellations are common—as are crowded, packed trains and buses.
- Plug your ears: Manhattan is bustling and the center of life; because of that, it tends to be noisier than other parts of NYC.
- Property Tax: For a home in Manhattan assessed at the median home value of $1,000,288, you’ll pay a rate of 0.9 % property tax, or $9,002 annually. The New York State property tax average is 1.578%, and the average US rate is 1.211%.
- Sales Tax: The sales tax in Manhattan is 8.88%. This rate incorporates a 4% state tax, 4.5% city tax, and a 0.38% tax towards the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District.
- State Income Tax: New York State’s income tax ranges from 4% to 8.82%, based on income level. If you earn the NYC median income of $52,737, you’ll pay a 6.21% income tax rate. This rate is higher than the US average rate of 4.6%.
As a New York resident, you’ll pay a premium for proximity to the city center, putting Manhattan among the country’s most desirable—and expensive—places to live. As of December 2019, the median home value was $1,000288, the median list price was $1,500,000, and the median price of homes sold was $942,500. The borough’s housing market is cold; home values have declined 6.3% in the past year and Zillow.com projects they’ll continue to fall 2.3% by the end of 2020.
Manhattan is notoriously a renters market: 62% of New Yorkers rent their homes. Expect to pay a premium for an apartment in Manhattan, and pack light – Manhattan apartments are notoriously small. The median rent is $3,600, but even a studio will set you back an average rent of $1,439. Manhattan has an increasing amount of luxury rentals available, causing an increase in median rent prices.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable options in Manhattan. Inwood, a hilly neighborhood located at Manhattan’s northern tip, has a median rent of just $1,850 and is serviced by the A express train. If you live here, you’ll be far from the action Manhattan is known for, but close to a myriad of beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. Harlem, a historically Black neighborhood, also has lower rent prices, although they’re increasing as the neighborhood gentrifies. Currently, the median rent is $2,295. Washington Heights, East Harlem, and Hamilton Heights are also among the borough’s most affordable neighborhoods. If you’re single, consider searching for one or more roommates with whom to split the cost, and consider expanding your search to neighborhoods in other boroughs that provide quick access into the city at a more affordable price, and often with more space.
Cost of Living
New York City is among the most expensive US cities to live in, and the cost of living in Manhattan is higher than in other boroughs. Bestplaces.net ranks the cost of living based on a US average index of 100. Manhattan’s overall cost of living is 258 —more than 2.5 times the national average and is more expensive than the cost of living for New York City as a whole, which is 209.3.
Most of the additional cost is due to high housing prices. The index for Manhattan housing is 520, more than five times the US average. Groceries, utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses all rank between 120 and 161, making them much more expensive than the national average.
The median household income in Manhattan is $79,781, higher than the US average of $57,652. But your money won’t go as far due to Manhattan’s higher cost of living. According to the Economy Policy Institute’s budget calculator, a family of four would need an annual income of $124,129 to have a “modest yet adequate” standard of living in New York City.
Weather & Natural Disasters
New York City’s climate is within a warm, humid subtropical zone with four distinct seasons. Spring and fall are the most pleasant months, while winters are relatively cold and summers are hot and humid. The hottest month of the year is July, with an average high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 69, followed by August with a high of 83 and low of 69. Because of the high humidity, you’ll find A/C is a must. Expect summer-like conditions from late May through late September, when periods of increased cloud cover and precipitation begin.
Winters in New York are relatively cold, and you’ll find you need to bundle up in layers. Average high temperatures hover several degrees above freezing. The coldest month is January with an average high of 39 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 26, followed by February with an average high of 42 and an average low of 29. Whatever the season, New York City tends to be warmer than outlying areas due to an urban heat island effect, so during the winter, you’ll be a bit toastier than friends up the coast.
The city experiences an average annual rainfall of 46 inches, with rain occurring 121 days of the year. The frequency of precipitation remains relatively steady between 10 and 11 days a month from December through August. The average annual snowfall is 29 inches per year, with snow occurring most frequently between December and March.
New York City is in danger of various natural disaster threats. In the summer, extreme heat may be trapped by the urban heat island, causing dangerously hot conditions. Year-round severe weather, including thunderstorms and winter storms, can bring high winds and heavy precipitation. And as a low-lying coastal city, NYC is vulnerable to flooding, particularly from coastal storms, including nor’easters, tropical storms, and hurricanes. In 2012, superstorm Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, flooding the subway system and road tunnels, destroying homes and businesses by fire, and leaving much of the city without power for days. Sandy caused roughly 19 billion dollars of economic losses in the city.
Prepare for natural disaster threats by reading the NYC government Plan for Hazards. As a major city, New York is also at risk of terrorism. Reading the government guide can help you prepare for potential attacks.
Economy & Job Market
The unemployment rate in Manhattan is 3.6%, slightly lower than the US average of 3.9%. Over the last year, the job market increased by 0.5%, and job growth projections for the next ten years are 31.5%, slightly lower than the US average of 33.5%.
Major employers in Manhattan include financial corporations JPMorgan Chase and Citi, pharmaceutical company Pfizer, the multi-industry conglomerate owned by Carl Icahn, Philip Morris International, corporate communications and marketing company Omnicom Group, and professional services network Pricewaterhouse Coopers, or PwC.
Several industries in Manhattan are growing quickly. These include financial services, healthcare, professional and technical services, retail trade, manufacturing, and education. Other major industries include trade, real estate, media, entertainment, film, and publishing.
To start your job search in Manhattan, use sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor to research relevant companies or job openings. Personal connections can be key to helping you get an interview, so be sure to let your network know you’re looking for a new job, and don’t be afraid to reach out to companies you admire to set up an informational interview.
Traffic & Transportation
Most Manhattan residents don’t own a car. Across Manhattan, parking is difficult to find, traffic is heavy, and many streets are one-way. Often, taking public transit or walking is a quicker option.
If you’re commuting, you’ll find that a variety of subway, bus, train, and ferry lines with routes into the city from the city’s outer boroughs, or New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, or Westchester County, serve the city of Manhattan well. Expect crowded trains and buses, and frequent delays; the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or the MTA, is known for slow-downs. On weekends, service on some lines is often changed or outright stopped to allow for construction or repairs. However, an expansive subway and bus system makes it easy to get around Manhattan and other boroughs.
The MTA also provides transit to and from suburbs and outlying areas via the Long Island Railroad, which services Long Island east of NYC, and Metro-North Railroad, which services areas north of NYC, both east and west of the Hudson River. PATH trains provide commuter rail services to New Jersey suburbs.
New York City has a bike score of 70, which means biking conditions are good. The New York City Department of Transportation offers a 2019 New York City Bike Map showing bike lanes and other bike-friendly infrastructure to help you map the best route for your bike commute. As you walk around Manhattan, you’ll notice that more and more streets have dedicated bike lanes separated from vehicular traffic. These designated lanes make biking around Manhattan a safer and more pleasant experience.
NYC also has a strong walkability rating with a walk score of 89, which means you’ll be able to complete most errands on foot. Transit access is equally excellent, with a score of 84/100. In Manhattan, you’ll find you’re never more than a few minutes’ walk from a subway station.
Broadway, considered NYC’s main street, runs diagonally on the west side of Midtown and runs along the east side of Manhattan south of Greenwich Village. Major roadways in Manhattan’s historical grid pattern include north-south running Madison Ave; Fifth Ave; Seventh Ave; State Route 9A, which borders the Hudson River north to south; and FDR Dr, which borders East River north to south. Major east-west thoroughfares include W 14th St, E 34th St, and W 116th St.
What to Do
Manhattan has no shortage of places to explore and things to do. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, art, nature, sports, or more, there’s definitely something for you. Fans of the outdoors should visit Central Park, where you can visit the zoo, participate in a fitness class, bike, people watch, and more. The High Line is a beautiful trail to walk along and take in views of new starchitect luxury buildings lining it. A stroll through Battery Park will give you excellent views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the harbor beyond.
Visit the striking 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Pair it with a trip to the nearby One World Observatory, where you can soak in the sights of the city. If you enjoy heights, you’ll have plenty of observation decks to choose from, including the Empire State Building and 30 Rockefeller Place. A walk through Times Square, a major commercial intersection and entertainment center, is also a unique experience.
Attend a musical at one of Broadway’s 40 theaters. See world-class art on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, or the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). History buffs will enjoy a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, or a ferry ride to explore Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Manhattan is a sports fan’s dream city. Baseball lovers can catch a Yankees game or visit Citi Field to see the Mets play. Basketball aficionados can cheer on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden or attend a game of the women’s Liberty team at Westchester County Center. The city’s two football teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets, both play at the MetLife Stadium. Hockey fans can attend games of one of NYC’s three NHL teams: the Devils, the Islanders, and the Rangers. Soccer lovers can watch the New York City FC or NY Red Bulls play against other MLS teams, or attend a game of the NWSL team Sky Blue FC.
Schools & Universities
Manhattan is served by the largest school system in the country: the NYC Department of Education, which manages the City School District of New York City. Across the system, more than 1,100,000 students attend over 1,800 schools.
Overall, the school system has a 75.9% four-year graduation rate and a low dropout rate of just 7.5%. Standardized tests in 2018 showed that 47.4% of NYC students scored proficient in reading, and 45.6% passed math. According to greatschools.org, Manhattan’s best public schools include Stuyvesant High School, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, The Anderson School, New Explorations into Science and Technology & Math School.
Private elementary, middle, and high schools are also commonplace in Manhattan. Many are located on the Upper East and Upper West Sides and include Trinity School, Regis High School, Collegiate School, and Brearly School.
Many of New York City’s most elite post-secondary institutions have campuses in Manhattan, including Columbia University and New York University, as well as Barnard College, The Cooper Union, The Juilliard School, and The New School. Manhattan is also close to colleges in other boroughs, including Fordham University, the Pratt Institute, and dozens more. The city’s public university system is the City University of New York or CUNY. City-wide, this system includes eleven four-year colleges, an honors college, six graduate colleges, and seven community colleges. CUNY’s Manhattan schools include the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Professional Studies.
Crime rates in Manhattan are relatively low, especially for such a huge city, and many parts of the borough are safe. The borough’s rate of violent crime is 38, higher than the U.S. average of 23. Manhattan’s property crime rate is 31, lower than the U.S. average of 35.
The New York City government puts out an online map documenting where in the city crimes have taken place. It can be a useful tool if you’re looking to move to the city.
The Manhattan neighborhoods with the highest crime include the Theatre District/Times Square, the Meatpacking District, Koreatown, the Garment District, and Union Square. However, as always in crowded locations, stay aware of your surroundings to help you stay safe.
- Gas service: Con Edison provides gas services to most of Manhattan.
- Electric service: Either Con Edison or National Grid will provide electricity based on your location; ask your landlord or realtor.
- Water service: The NYC Department of Environmental Protection provides water in the city.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: If you’re moving to an apartment, your landlord should have already set up trash and recycling pick-up, but you can request collection service from the city online.
- Internet/cable service: Options for internet and cable service in NYC are varied and include Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Cablevision. Find the best options on HighSpeedInternet.com.
Best Neighborhoods in Manhattan, NY
Choosing a Manhattan neighborhood can be difficult – you’ll be considering the vibe, housing costs, and possibly schools. Here are some of the borough’s best areas to call home.
Upper West Side
You may recognize the Upper West Side, or UWS, from You’ve Got Mail or another of Nora Ephron’s films; it’s considered New York’s cultural and intellectual hub. Bound by Central Park to the east, West 59th Street to the south, the Hudson River to the west, and West 110th Street to the north, the UWS is an affluent and primarily residential neighborhood. Many of its residents work in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. Downtown is approximately 34 minutes south by subway.
As a resident, you’ll enjoy proximity to Central Park and Riverside Park. UWS is a family-oriented neighborhood where you’ll frequently see families pushing their strollers through Central Park. A destination for fine dining, popular restaurants include Jean Georges and Per Se. The UWS is also a cultural and artistic neighborhood. Columbia University and Barnard College are just north of the Upper West Side, which is home to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Beacon Theatre.
Brownstones and beautiful old trees line many streets in the Upper West Side, which lends this neighborhood a quaint, small-town feel. Most housing is in the form of condos, co-ops, and high-rise buildings. North of 90th Street, you can find smaller, more affordable walk-up buildings.
Upper West Side students attend William Sherman School, the Bloomingdale School, the Richard Rogers School of the Arts and Technology, the Lillian Weber School of the Arts, and the Museum Magnet School. Private schools in the neighborhood include Stephen Gaynor School, HudsonWay Immersion School, The Gateway School, the Studio School, and Trinity School.
- Population: 214,744
- Median home value: $1,100,000
- Median rent: $2,900
- Something to try: Visit the American Museum of Natural History and then stroll through Central Park.
Upper East Side
Located across Central Park from the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side is also an upscale neighborhood with a slower-paced lifestyle than many other parts of the city. Central Park borders it to the west, 96th Street to the north, the East River to the east, and 59th Street to the south. The UES is located approximately 37 minutes north of downtown via subway.
Residents enjoy the green spaces of Central Park, as well as Carl Schurz Park along the East River. The neighborhood is a cultural destination, home to the Guggenheim, the Met, the Jewish Museum, and other major institutions.
The UES is known for townhouses and luxury buildings with door attendants. Further east, there are pre-war one- and two-bedroom apartments available. Homes and apartments here are among the most expensive in the city, and it’s an excellent location for boutique shopping, fine dining, and upscale cultural experiences.
The neighborhood is home to highly-ranked public and private schools. Among the private schools are Regis High School, Brearley School, Dalton School, and the Chapin School. Public schools include Townsend Harris High School, Bayard Taylor School, and Lower Lab School.
- Population: 124, 231
- Median home value: $1,100,000
- Median rent: $2,400
- Something to try: Take in world-famous art at the Guggenheim.
A sub-neighborhood within the Upper East Side, Lenox Hill merits special mention. It forms the lower section of the UES, bordered by 60th Street, 77th Street, Fifth Avenue, and Lexington Avenue. Just over 30 minutes north of downtown, Lenox Hill is family-friendly, affluent, and a cultural center.
Lenox Hills is an excellent location for upscale shopping and fine dining. Pre-war apartment buildings are common, and the neighborhood is home to some of New York City’s most expensive real estate.
Public schools in Lenox Hill include Manhattan International High School, Talent Unlimited High School, Urban Academy Laboratory High School, Robert L Stevenson, and Beekman Hill International. Lenox Hill’s private schools include Dominican Academy, Browning School, and Manhattan High School for Girls.
- Population: 67,122
- Median home value: $1,995,000
- Median rent: $3,950
- Something to try: Explore the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Bound by 14th Street to the south, Third Avenue to the east, 23rd Street to the north, and Park Avenue South to the west, Gramercy Park surrounds the small, fenced-in private park it is named after. The neighborhood is about 20 minutes north of downtown by subway and is adjacent to Chelsea, East Village, and Union Square.
Known as a quiet and safe area, Gramercy Park is part of a historic district with an old-world vibe. You’ll find historic and architecturally significant homes along tree-lined streets; many are Neo-Gothic, Italianate, or Greek Revival-style townhouses, and many buildings have doormen. Residents are mainly professionals, retirees, and families with kids. Irving Plaza is a concert venue that hosts a variety of popular bands. Pete’s Tavern and the Winslow Bar are after work locals’ favorites.
Washington Irving High School, School of the Future, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens are the neighborhood’s public schools. The Ecole Internationale de New York, a private, French international school, is located there too.
- Population: 27,988
- Median home value: $941,000
- Median rent: $3,300
- Something to try: Pay a visit to Pete’s Tavern, the oldest continuously operating bar in New York City.
Popular with bohemians, artists, and students, the East Village is an iconic and young neighborhood. Bound by Third Avenue to the west, the East River to the east, East Houston Street to the south, and 14th Street to the north, East Village is about 26 minutes by train from downtown.
The neighborhood contains three subsections: Alphabet City, Little Ukraine, and Bowery. All areas feature vintage stores, jewelry shops, boutiques, cafes, delis, coffee houses, and record stores. Tompkins Square Park and the East River provide residents with green space for recreation. Eastern European restaurants, like Veselka, pay homage to the past when the area was home to a major Ukrainian population. At night, the neighborhood comes to life, when you can enjoy pubs and dive bars as part of a popular and accessible scene.
Most apartments are pre-war walk-ups and tend to be small and sometimes outdated. Very few high-rises or doorman buildings exist in the area.
Students in the East Village attend the East Village Community School, Neighborhood School, and East Side Community High School.
- Population: 63,347
- Median home value: $860,000
- Median rent: $3,150
- Something to try: Visit St Mark’s Place, where vendors sell everything from falafel to clothes to incense and more.
Also known as Greenwich Village, or The Village, West Village is bordered by the Hudson River to the west, West 14th Street to the north, Greenwich Avenue to the east, and Christopher Street to the south.
The West Village is home to New York University, Off-Broadway Theatre, and iconic Washington Square Park. Centrally located, it’s just 20 minutes north of downtown by train and also provides easy access to Union Square and Midtown.
You’ll find plenty of cafes, brunch restaurants, and shops, as well as a vibrant nightlife—including a thriving LGBTQ nightlife scene at spots like the Stonewall Inn and the Pier.
The Village has historic townhouses and walk-ups, as well as high-rises on Park and Fifth Avenues. There are also brownstones on some streets, as well as co-ops and condos.
Top schools in the neighborhood include the Anderson School, New Explorations into Science, Technology & Math School, and Tribeca Learning Center.
- Population: 31,794
- Median home value: $1,400,000
- Median rent: $3,500
- Something to try: Visit the Stonewell Inn, site of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that helped ignite a global movement for LGBTQ rights.
Lower East Side
Sometimes abbreviated as the LES, this neighborhood sits in southeastern Manhattan, roughly bounded by the Bowery, the East River, Canal Street, and Houston Street. Unlike many other areas of Manhattan, which have a history of upper-class residents, the Lower East Side was traditionally home to working-class immigrants until it began to gentrify in the 2000s.
The Lower East Side has also been traditionally Jewish and continues to be a Jewish enclave, with synagogues, Judaica stores, and kosher eateries on Hester, Essex, and Grand Streets. Today, it also has a large population of Latino residents, as well as an increasing Chinese population thanks to its proximity to Chinatown.
The LES is known for its exciting nightlife, with excellent bars, restaurants, and cafes, and frequent concerts and performances. The housing stock in the area includes brick tenement buildings, as well as an increasing number of newly constructed luxury condos.
Among Lower East Side schools are Florence Nightingale School, Benjamin Altman School, and Lower East Side Preparatory High School.
- Population: 72,957
- Median home value: $738,000
- Median rent: $2,995
- Something to try: Sample traditionally kosher food at Katz’s Delicatessen, made famous by a scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Battery Park City
Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park City is a relatively recent planned community constructed on 92 acres of landfill. It’s popular among families and always ranks among the safest New York City neighborhoods. Full of professionals from the nearby Financial District during the day, Battery Park City is quiet and peaceful at night.
The Hudson River bounds Battery Park City on the west and south and State St on the north and east. Adjacent to downtown, the neighborhood is ideal for those who work in the Financial District.
More than one-third of the neighborhood is parkland, making this an excellent location if you love the outdoors. It’s also home to Brookfield Place, a luxury shopping center, as well as the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Skyscraper Museum. Housing consists of recently constructed 20-45-story apartment buildings, many with views of the Hudson River or the harbor.
Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s top public high schools, is located in Battery Park City, as are Battery Park City School and Liberty School.
- Population: 9,252
- Median home value: $1,700,000
- Median rent: $3,750
- Something to try: Walk through the Battery Park City Esplanade’s thirty-six acres and take in breathtaking views of the water at sunset.
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