Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Where is your new home?

Should you live in Brooklyn or Manhattan? Read our article to find out which iconic New York borough fits your vibe and budget better.


4 minute read
30 May 2024

Welcome to the ultimate showdown of New York City's finest boroughs – Manhattan vs. Brooklyn! Both boroughs offer unique charm, trendy neighborhoods, and vibrant culture, so choosing where to start exploring homes for rent in New York can be difficult.

But don't worry, we’ve got you covered. We'll dive deep into their distinct lifestyles and break down their living costs and hotspots to help you decide which suits your vibe.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn

Manhattan, the heart of NYC, offers the perfect blend of convenience and excitement, with everything close by – cafes, supermarkets, and top-notch restaurants. Manhattan radiates a cosmopolitan and vibrant energy that's truly one of a kind. But, its prime location comes with a steep price that has driven many to move away or downsize.

Brooklyn may be the most populous borough, but it never loses its tight-knit community vibe. With a growing arts and culture scene, the borough is home to a diverse creative crowd. Brooklyn’s abundance of parks and green spaces lets you break away from New York’s bustle.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Cost of living

Healthcare (doctor’s visit)$140$140
Transportation (gas)$4$4

Whether you choose Manhattan or Brooklyn, living in New York City can be expensive. The key difference in the cost of living lies in the accommodation price. Manhattan's reputation for high rental prices for smaller square footage prompts people to move to Brooklyn, which offers more space for your money.

Brooklyn is a larger borough area-wise, and the homes are more spacious, and buildings are lower, so you get more sunlight. Whereas in Manhattan, you’re in a prime location, close to entertainment options and business centers, all of which warrant a higher price.

We advise renting in Manhattan if you’re looking for a room or a studio and enjoy being on the go. Rent in Brooklyn if you’re looking for an apartment, need more space, or are more of a homebody.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Median income

With the higher cost of living come higher salaries. At $95,866 annually, Manhattan's median household income is higher than in Brooklyn, where the median is $73,951 annually.

Median income represents the exact middle between the lowest and highest income, and it’s a more accurate representation of household income as the highest or lowest earners don’t offset it. Check out our guide to average salaries in NYC to learn more about the average earnings and income in New York.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Liveability

Divided only by the East River, Manhattan and Brooklyn couldn’t be more different when it comes to culture, nightlife, and entertainment.

Take, for example, the 2 biggest parks: Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Built by the same architects, the parks each have a unique feel. Central Park is famous and has many sights, like the Bethesda Terrace. In contrast, Prospect Park is smaller and calmer.

Similarly, the boroughs themselves have their own flavor. Manhattan buzzes with lively streets, sights to see, and endless options for activities and shopping, from Broadway shows to museum visits. The borough has a dynamic and diverse nightlife with options for everyone.

Brooklyn gives you the benefits of living in NYC without the bustle of Manhattan. It’s a more spacious borough with plenty of greenery, fewer tourists, and a laid-back atmosphere. As a trade-off, you might need more time for your weekly shopping or to find a nearby bar, as entertainment options are spread out, primarily in the western part of the borough.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Career and education

Considering the business saturation and economy, Manhattan offers better career prospects and a higher employment rate of 62.5%. In terms of education, Manhattan is home to over 1,400 public schools and some of the best universities in NYC, like Columbia University and New York University (NUY).

For comparison, Brooklyn boasts a decent 59.9% employment rate, not too far behind Manhattan. But, the downside of Brooklyn is that the work-life balance can be more challenging due to longer commuting times. Some higher-ranked universities in Brooklyn include CUNY Brooklyn College, Pratt Institute, and Kingsborough Community College.

Manhattan vs. Brooklyn: Crime and safety

Both boroughs have a higher than the country average crime rate, but that’s to be expected of metropolitan areas of their size and population. Yet, crime rates in New York have dropped by 5.7% in the past year. You should be fine if you’re aware of your surroundings, lock your doors, and take the train or taxi at night. You can check our guide to the best neighborhoods in NYC, where we included only the safe areas in the city.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn: Connectivity

On average, Manhattan residents need 31 minutes to commute, and those living in Brooklyn need 41 minutes. Around the same amount of people use the subway as a means of transport. But Brooklyn residents prefer driving over walking as their commute is either longer or parking is better. Whereas people in Manhattan walk to work over drive as the borough lacks affordable and good parking.

Regarding the subway and connections, Manhattan has 151 subway stops, and Brooklyn has 170. Yet, while Brooklyn has more stops, Manhattan has better coverage as the island is smaller.

Which is best, Manhattan or Brooklyn?

Deciding that Manhattan is better than Brooklyn or that Brooklyn is better than Manhattan is a personal choice. Both boroughs have pros and cons, so it depends on which pros outweigh the cons for you.

Manhattan is better than Brooklyn in terms of convenience, entertainment, and connectivity. You’ve got the most cultural and nightlife options, and the subway connections and most offices are there. Because of its size, everything you need, like supermarkets, banks, and medical centers, is within easy reach by foot or train.

Yet, Brooklyn is better than Manhattan when it comes to the cost of living, space, and community. Brooklyn is a larger borough, so you have more areas to unwind and don’t have to deal with crowds of tourists on the sidewalk. While still expensive, Brooklyn is much cheaper than Manhattan, and you get better value for renting space. The borough has a tighter-knit community that makes you feel part of something.

This article is for informational purposes only.

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