Does Los Angeles feel too laid back, too casual, too same-same? In other words, are you looking for a faster-paced lifestyle where the day-to-day is more challenging and exciting? In New York City, life runs at a thrilling and rapid pace – culture is as vibrant and diverse as is the melting pot of people from all over the world.
Instead of commuting on gridlocked freeways in the bubble of your car, you can live comfortably in NYC without the four-wheels you need in LA. If you’re ready for an exhilarating lifestyle, you’ll love New York City. But before you go out shopping for a winter wardrobe, see if moving to NYC from LA will be right for you.
What to Know About Moving from Los Angeles to New York City
Here are some things to consider before moving from the West Coast to the East Coast.
Housing and Cost of Living
You’re used to LA’s high housing costs, so you probably won’t feel the sticker shock that people moving from states with average housing costs may encounter. The average cost of housing index nationwide is 100. In NYC, the housing cost index is almost triple that, at 294. In L.A., it’s a comparable 298.
Although the housing prices are equivalently high in both cities, NYC houses come with a smaller footprint, especially in apartments and condos. If a home has a yard, it likely will be much cozier, and side yards are tight if they exist at all. In fact, many more NYC homes share common walls than in L.A.
Moving from LA to NYC means your basic expenses will be about 8% higher in NYC. Food and groceries, health care, utilities, and transportation will cost more.
Do you like the idea of living without a car? You can easily do it in NYC. Almost every area of every borough has convenient access to the bus or subway system – the main reason why 55% of residents don’t own a vehicle. But the one-way commute in NYC is 41 minutes, so if you can, try to find a home close to your workplace to shave off some transit time.
In NYC’s five boroughs, the walk scores range from 84 in Staten Island to 100 in Manhattan, but the average walk score is way up there at 89 out of 100. Transit scores range from 74 in Staten Island to 100 in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The average transit score for the metropolis is 84.
You’ll pay about 1% less in sales tax in NYC. The average New York City sales tax is 8.5% compared to L.A.’s 9.5%.
If you buy a home in NYC, your property tax rate is specific to your borough. Brooklyn’s rate is 0.627%, while Manhattan charges the highest rate at 1.925%. The average effective property tax rate citywide is 0.90%.
Both New York State and California assess income tax on a progressive scale. In NY, the rate ranges from 4% to 8.82%. In CA, the average income tax rate is 9.3%, but ranges from 1% to 13.3%, depending on your income level.
Economy and Job Growth
NYC’s job growth was sluggish in 2019. Jobs grew just 0.54%, and in the upcoming ten years, models forecast they’ll grow by 31%, a bit slower than L.A.’s predicted growth of 35%.
Los Angeles is the nations’ film and television industry hub, while NYC is the country’s financial center. In addition to financial services, healthcare, retail trade, professional and tech services, manufacturing, and education are also major NYC economic drivers.
Weather and Climate
Are you looking forward to leaving behind LA’s same-same weather and living among gorgeous NYC falls, vibrant springs, hot, muggy summers, and cold, snowy winters? Nothing beats Central Park’s transformation from glorious fall colors into a winter wonderland after the first snow. To help you acclimate to these four seasons, your LA wardrobe will need some tweaking. NYC’s average January lows are 26 °F and 25 inches of snowfall annually.
In L.A., you may not even have owned any rain gear, but you’ll definitely need it with NYC’s 47” of annual rainfall. From May to September, increasing cloud cover brings the most rain, and of course fewer sunnier days.
L.A. is famous for its dry, bright days throughout the year. But living in NYC will require an adjustment, not only for icy winters but for the muggy hot summer weather. The average July high runs 85 °F, just like L.A.’s July average, but in NYC, the heat comes with high humidity. Sometimes it’s hard to towel off and feel dry after a shower. You may not have needed air conditioning in L.A., but you’ll want a home with AC in New York City.
For such a vast metropolis, NYC’s crime rate is low. Out of 100, violent crime is 28, and property crime is 25. Although the violent crime rate is just about the same in LA and NYC, property crime in LA is higher at 35. It’s a good idea to check any number of online crime maps, like this one, for specific rates and incidences in areas you’re considering moving to.
NYC density affects the school situation. The city’s popular schools are famously overcrowded, so you’re not always guaranteed a place in your neighborhood school. This is particularly true if you move during the middle of the school year, administrators may place your child wherever there’s room, not where it’s convenient or necessarily a school you would choose. However, like in LA, your higher education options in NYC are outstanding. Check out NYU, Columbia, and Barnard College, just to name a few.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
Sprawling LA has a population of 4,058,000 and a density of 8,500 people per square mile. NYC’s population, at 8,400,000, is over twice LA’s and the density, 27,000 people per square mile is three times that of LA. Moving to New York City from Los Angeles will leave you rubbing elbows with crowds everywhere – on the sidewalks, in the streets, on the subway, in elevators, restaurants, stores, and parks.
L.A. sits in a vast basin bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west. New York City is also a coastal city but with a very different geographical make-up than Los Angeles. NYC sits on a naturally sheltered harbor at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the Hudson River. The Harlem River separates the Bronx from Manhattan, and the East River separates Queens and Brooklyn from Manhattan and the Bronx.
NYC’s limited landmass of 304 square miles contributes to it being the most densely populated city in the country. L.A., covering 502 square miles, is surrounded by hills and mountains to the north and northeast while NYC is relatively flat. Los Angeles’s highest point is Mount Lukens at 5,075 feet. However, Staten Island’s Todt Hill rises to 410 feet, the highest point south of Maine on the Eastern Seaboard.
Even though skyscrapers aren’t a geographical form, they create geographic features like microclimates. NYC skyscrapers block breezes, create shade, and limit viewpoints to the sky. If you want a sense of more space like you have in L.A., consider Queens or Staten Island where buildings aren’t as tall, parks are more plentiful, and the lifestyle is more suburban than urban.
Best Neighborhoods in New York City
From Manhattan’s uber-chic Upper West Side to Staten Island’s less dense suburbia, each of New York City’s five boroughs has excellent and unique neighborhoods. To help you get you started finding the best environment for your lifestyle, we feature two highly-rated communities from each borough. You’ll find even more neighborhoods listed in our city guides.
Brooklyn – Downtown
Downtown Brooklyn is home to around 22,000 residents. Most parks, cafes, bars, and shopping are all within an easy walk. Adding to the convenience, Downtown has about 13 subway lines plus busses, so owning a car just isn’t necessary. Housing is expensive – the price you pay for living in one of NYC’s coveted neighborhoods. Learn more here.
Brooklyn – Carroll Gardens
Nineteenth-century charm among leafy tree-lined streets makes Carroll Gardens a classic NYC urban neighborhood. Charming brownstones, sleek luxury condos, parks, and convenient amenities make up this tightly-knit community of about 22,000. Like Downtown, Carroll Gardens housing is pricey. Find out more here.
The Bronx – Riverdale
Beautiful parks, historic landmark homes, top-rated schools, and leafy streets create the charm of established Riverdale. About 47,800 residents enjoy the convenience to Manhattan, which is just minutes south. By NYC standards, Riverdale housing is relatively affordable. Here is more information.
The Bronx – Kingsbridge
Kingsbridge has some of NYC’s most affordable housing prices, although the majority of the 76,500 residents rent. With a tremendous amount of dining and shopping, you can live conveniently in Kingsbridge, one of the most diverse communities in New York City. Get more information here.
Manhattan – Upper West Side
Gorgeous brownstones and tree-lined streets define the quaint, small-town feel in some areas of exclusive Upper West Side; however, you’ll also find doorman high-rises and co-ops. Walk to Central Park, fine dining, shopping, and the Lincoln Center. Here’s more info about UWS.
Manhattan – East Village
Long known as NYC’s bohemian enclave, urban East Village is home to artists, students, and creative-thinking residents. Pubs, inventive boutiques, cafes, restaurants, coffee houses, and more mix with lower rise apartments and co-ops. Find out more about East Village here.
Queens – Astoria
Astoria, located across the East River from Manhattan, is a convenient neighborhood to live in if you work in Manhattan. The diverse population of about 95,400 residents enjoys Astoria Park, the many restaurants, beer gardens, and convenient amenities. Learn more here.
Queens – Sunnyside
Sunnyside provides a quieter lifestyle from the more densely urban NYC neighborhoods. Housing is more affordable than many other areas, and the 84,000 or so residents enjoy the parks, restaurants, and shopping in the charming historic district. Find out more about Sunnyside here.
Staten Island – Huguenot
With a much smaller population than some of the other ‘best’ neighborhoods, Huguenot is a safe, family-centered community. A feature that makes Huguenot so special is all the parks that are in or surround the area. Here’s more info about Huguenot.
Staten Island – Great Kills
Great Kills is one of NYC’s neighborhoods with higher homeownership. About 68,000 people enjoy the terrific choice of shops, restaurants, bars, and amenities. Highly rated schools and beautiful parks, like extensive Great Kills Park on Lower Hudson Bay, make this an excellent area for families. Learn more here.
Cost of Moving from LA to NYC
On average, it costs about $4000-$7000 to move from Los Angeles to New York City. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 2800 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best L.A. to NYC movers now!