New York City NYC Moving Guide

5 of the Best Neighborhoods to Live in Manhattan

Ariel view of Manhattan, New York

Moving to New York City? If you're asking yourself where to live in Manhattan, you have a big decision to make: figuring out which neighborhood you should call home. Since NYC is often referred to as a series of small towns, each with its own unique personality, how do you decide which one is your match? With more than 50 to choose from in Manhattan alone, you have quite a bit of homework to do. Consider these five neighborhoods  – some of the best places to live in Manhattan – depending on your lifestyle, budget, and interests.

1. Upper West Side

59th Street to 110th Street from south to north, from Central Park on the east to the Hudson River on the West

Upper West Side in New York City
Image via Moved

I am a tad biased because I've lived on the Upper West Side for more than nine years, but you won't find a more picturesque neighborhood in Manhattan. Not only does the UWS offer an abundance of public green space – Central Park and Riverside Park flank the nabe – but you'll encounter tree-lined blocks of brownstones making you feel like you've wandered on the set of a Nora Ephron movie. Columbus Avenue features a trove of cool boutiques, and Amsterdam has mostly restaurants, cafes and bars. The subway runs along Broadway, also the center of the neighborhood, as well as Central Park West. For a one-bedroom apartment in the West 70s and 80s, budget at least $2,500 for a walk-up. For a full-service doorman building, expect to pay upwards of $3,500 per month, with many topping out at well over $4,000. You'll save a bit on rent the further north you go, with walk-up one-bedrooms in the West 100s averaging about $2,000 per month.

2. Lenox Hill on the Upper East

East 60th Street to East 77th Street south to north, from the East River on the east and Fifth Avenue on the west

72nd street subway in New York City

This pocket of the Upper East Side promises uptown life at its finest. Regal pre-war apartment buildings line Park and Fifth Avenues, also two of the most expensive blocks of real estate in New York City. Madison Avenue is well-known for its selection of chichi shops, and the brands match the residents of Park and Fifth – think Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Celine, and Giuseppe Zanotti. While the western half of the neighborhood is close to Central Park and leans wealthy, the eastern slice (east of Lexington) does offer some affordable housing options, as well as a more down-to-earth feel. Expect to pay at least $5,000 for a luxury one-bedroom apartment near Central Park. In a non-doorman building closer to the East River, a one-bedroom apartment can be had in the $2,000 to $2,500 range.

3. Washington Heights

155th Street to Dyckman Street from south to north, from the Harlem River on the east to the Hudson River on the west

Street view in Washington Heights, New York City

New Manhattan residents shouldn't discount Washington Heights, a soulful and lovely neighborhood in Upper Manhattan that's minutes to Midtown by way of the A train. Not only will you rent more space for the money, but the apartment stock consists mostly of sprawling pre-war flats, many with gorgeous Beaux-Arts details. Brimming with Hispanic flavor due to its large Dominican population, Washington Heights boasts a good number of Latin restaurants. Mom-and-pop shops are also prevalent, so chain stores haven't found their way to this area of Manhattan yet.  Fort Tryon Park is one of the city's outdoor treasures as it provides acres of respite from the Big Apple and marvelous views of the Hudson River. Inside is the Met Cloisters, the uptown branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that focuses on European medieval art and architecture. And for those who like to escape the city for Upstate, you'll be that much closer when hitting the road for weekends away. Washington Heights is one of Manhattan's cheapest places to live – there's a stock of apartments that fall under the $2,000-per-month price tag.

4. Battery Park City

West Street on the east and surrounded by the Hudson River to the west, north, and south

Battery Park in New York City

This 92-acre planned community sits among lush plantings and comes with fabulous vistas of the Hudson River. Though its spacious setting is far removed from most Manhattan attractions (and the hustle and bustle), Battery Park is a favorite choice among families – it always ranks among the safest neighborhoods in New York City. It hasn't been known as a destination for shopping and dining, but that's changing. With the addition of Brookfield Place – a huge shopping mall with a gourmet food court and the city's second Eataly – just a quick walk away, residents can now take advantage of an array of upscale boutiques and eateries. Transportation has always been convenient from this part of town and is now even more so since the newly designed Hub with 11 subway lines is open. Expect to pay at least $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment in Battery Park City, but many are "no fee," meaning they skip the dreaded broker's fee (15 percent of one year's rent, usually payable at lease signing).

5. Gramercy Park

14th Street to 23rd Street from south to north, the East River on the East and Park Avenue on the west

Gramercy Park in New York City

It's Manhattan's only private park, but the neighborhood that surrounds the key-only parcel bears the same name. It's widely recognized as a posh area but also one of the island's prettiest pockets. It could be one of the city's most convenient addresses as Gramercy Park lies within a quick walk of Chelsea, the East Village, NoHo, Union Square, and NoMad. That means two public parks (Union Square Park and Madison Square Park) are within a quick jaunt for those who aren't lucky enough to inherit a key to Gramercy Park (there are just 383 keys in circulation). Some of the best restaurants in New York and old-school taverns dot the area, and the Players Club and the National Arts Club fit well into the neighborhood. You'll spend more on rent closer to the park, but toward the river, you might find a bargain. Expect to pay in the range of $2,500 for a small, walk-up one-bedroom, and more than $4,000 for a more spacious flat in a doorman building close to the park. If you can afford to rent on Gramercy Park, you may land one of those coveted keys and be able to explore a piece of Manhattan that few ever will.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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