The 14 pros and cons of living in New York City

What are the pros and cons of living in New York? Is New York a good place to live? Find out the 14 reasons why New York may or may not be your new home.


6 minute read
Updated on 14 Jun 2024

New York is best known for being the setting of many movies, shows and books. Yet you can’t start exploring homes for rent in New York just because you’ve seen it on TV. To help you figure out if New York is a good place to live, we’ve listed the 14 pros and cons of living in New York City.

Pros of living in New York

What makes New York such a desirable place to live? Is it the job opportunities, the excellent public transport or high-ranked schools? Let’s see the 7 biggest pros of living in New York and figure out why everyone wants to make it in New York.

1. New York is a sea of opportunities

New York City is a buzzing global hub. There’s a plethora of career options across every industry, particularly in marketing, arts, finance, tech, healthcare, sports, and fashion. Big names such as PwC, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Verizon, NBCUniversal, Bank of America, and Peloton call the city home, providing exciting job opportunities.

The average annual salary for a New Yorker is $99,221, one of the highest in the country. So, it’s no surprise that countless professionals move to the city every year to chase their dreams. The competition can be fierce, so securing a job before moving is a good idea.

2. New York is a cultural melting pot

With nearly 8 million residents, New York is a melting pot of diverse nationalities and cultures. For international newcomers, NYC offers a significant advantage. Blending in and building a life in NYC is easier in an already diverse community.

This diversity is evident in the city's culinary scene, festivities, and thriving businesses. NYC neighborhoods like Harlem, Chinatown, Queens, and Jackson Heights exemplify this rich tapestry. Nevertheless, no matter where you reside in NYC, you'll be immersed in a vibrant mosaic of cultures. So, whether you're from afar or just a state away, New York has a spot for you.

3. New York has you covered day or night

One of the most obvious pros of living in NYC is the vibrant, 24/7 lifestyle. Whether you're in the mood for early-morning yoga or a late-night ramen fix, the city's got you covered.

There's always something happening, from catching a Broadway show like "Merrily We Roll Along" to admiring the art of Marc Chagall at Hall des Lumières. Strolling through Manhattan's Little Island or playing a game of pickleball in Central Park are just a few more options.

New Yorkers often prioritize location over space to be close to the action. One great way to meet people is the bustling happy hours, which provide a fantastic chance to meet new friends and dive into NYC's lively social life.

4. New York has the best public transport network in the US

You’ve probably seen photos of the New York subway, but did you know it has the largest number of stops worldwide? With 472 stops throughout the city, you'll have a nearby subway station, no matter your neighborhood. While it can face delays, the subway remains the best 24/7 mode of public transportation in New York.

One drawback of the NYC subway is that not all stations are accessible. You can check the MTA Accessible Stations page for a complete list of accessible stops and use it as a guideline when searching for homes for rent in NYC.

5. New York offers cuisines to satisfy any craving

You can see the city’s cultural diversity reflected in its food. New York has everything from a foie gras ice cream at OddFellows to statement foods like pizza and bagels. So, you can never get tired of dining in the city. While it might be obvious that the best Chinese food is in Chinatown, here are more cuisines and neighborhoods to try:

  • Tacos or dim sum in Sunset Park
  • Greek in Astoria
  • Soul food in Harlem
  • Steak in Williamsburg
  • Latin-American in Bushwick
  • Sri Lankan in Ward Hill

6. New York has excellent international connectivity

With 3 international airports, flying to and from NYC is a breeze. John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia airports are in Queens, New York City, whereas Newark is in New Jersey. To get a better idea of which to fly to and from, here is the proximity of each airport to an NYC borough:

  • JFK if you’re flying internationally or will be living in Brooklyn (below Williamsburg) or Eastern Queens
  • Fly to Newark if your new home is in Manhattan (Downtown) and Staten Island
  • LaGuardia is for domestic flights, and if you’re moving to Brooklyn (Williamsburg or Greenpoint area), Manhattan (Upper or Midtown), or The Bronx

7. New York has highly-rated educational institutions

Living in New York City comes with the advantage of access to high-quality education. New York has over 1,400 public schools, with many of them ranking high nationally.

For families with younger children, there are plenty of elementary schools like the Ps 77 Lower Lab School (K-5), Tag Young Scholars (K-8), and 30th Avenue School (K-8). Notable high schools include High School Math, Science, and Engineering at CCNY, Stuyvesant High School, and the Bronx High School of Science.

The city is also fantastic for undergraduate and graduate students, boasting prestigious universities and colleges such as Columbia University, Cornell University, and the City University of New York. Check our guide on the top 7 universities in New York to explore your options.

Cons of living in New York

Of course, living in New York has its disadvantages as well. From the high cost of living to the crowded streets, let’s break down a few factors you should consider before living in New York.

1. New York is expensive

One major downside of life in NYC is the cost of living, which stands at $4,130 per month— about 30% higher than the national average. This cost is driven up by high taxes, cost of food, public transport, and rent, which is the biggest expense.

New York has the nation's highest rent and a competitive rental market. Take this into consideration when you're finding apartments in the US' most expensive city. To make life in New York more affordable, we recommend getting a job before moving or renting with roommates to split costs. Some more affordable neighborhoods, like Harlem and Bed-Stuy, offer rents ranging from $1,917 to $2,373. Check out our guide to the cheapest places to live in NYC to learn more.

2. New York’s streets can be dirty

Living in NYC, you'll soon notice that the city streets aren't always the cleanest. Given the size and activity of the city, this is somewhat expected, but it can be a bit unpleasant.

You may also sometimes come across vermin and pests scurrying about. It's not an everyday occurrence, but it's worth noting, especially if you're from a smaller, more residential town. Fortunately, tenant laws in NYC require landlords to keep homes free from such nuisances.

3. New York is busy and crowded

Living in New York City, you'll quickly notice that it's one of the world's most bustling metropolises. With 8 million residents, the city is perpetually active, and navigating through crowds will become a routine part of your journey.

4. New York has a lot of homeless people

The city has seen an increase in homelessness following the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is actively working to improve this and provide support for homeless people. You may run into homeless people sleeping on the subway or the street. Be kind and respectful, and they will do the same.

5. New York has a high crime rate

With a crime index of 49.85, New York, like many large cities, has its share of safety concerns. Certain areas, like Brownsville and Hunts Point, have higher crime rates. However, the city has seen a 5.7% decrease in overall crime in the past year. The most common crimes are thefts and felony assaults, so staying vigilant and following basic safety measures should help ensure your well-being in the city.

6. New York is never quiet

Having entertainment around the clock can be an advantage, but it might turn into a disadvantage with the constant movement of tourists and locals. When searching for homes for rent in New York, consider newly built or renovated options with better sound insulation. Opt for quieter areas, away from major intersections, subway stations, and tourist hubs. If you prefer a quieter environment, explore residential neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Astoria, Long Island City, and Prospect Heights.

7. New York has humid summers and snowy winters

With its hot, humid summers and snowy, cold winters, surviving New York's weather is an adventure. While the ever-changing climate can pose challenges, there are ways to navigate it. During winter, have warm clothing ready, and remember that as a tenant, you’ve got the right to have functioning heating and hot water. In the summer, stay hydrated and consider installing an air conditioner, especially in older buildings that tend to get overly hot.

Is NYC a good place to live?

Life in New York City may not always match the movies, but it's a great place to call home. Like any big city, it comes with both pros and cons. Provided you can manage the cost, New York’s rich culture, top-notch education, and abundant job prospects make it an ideal environment for personal growth and self-discovery.

This article is for informational purposes only.

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