New York Neighborhood Guide: Tips for finding the perfect neighborhood in NYC

This is part two of a series on finding the perfect neighborhood for you in New York City. Yesterday, I talked about why where you live matters and today I’m sharing tips for finding the right neighborhood.

Yesterday, I talked about you should give a lot of thought to where you live in NYC. But with so many options in the New York Metropolitan area, how do you narrow it down? Today, I thought I’d share some tips for how to find the right neighborhood for you.

New York Neighborhood Guide: Finding the Perfect Neighborhood in NYC

Moving to New York?  There are so many amazing neighborhoods out there. This New York Neighborhood Guide provides you with tips to find the right neighborhood for you.

1. Do your research and narrow it down

There are so many neighborhoods in New York. When you’re apartment hunting, you don’t want to have to run around all over NYC. That’s where doing a fair amount of research from the comfort of your couch can help. An alternate heading for this paragraph could be “know what you can afford.” Price will help you quickly narrow down the neighborhoods you can choose from.  After filtering by price on Zillow, you’ll get a good idea of which areas you can live in pretty quickly. Start googling those neighborhoods. Find out who lives in the neighborhood – parents, students, business people? Are there a lot of trees? Is there a big night scene? What’s the crime rate? Pick a few neighborhoods that resonate the most with you and go visit them!

2. Try out a short-term, temporary stay

I know that immediately after uprooting your life to a new location, the first urge you’ll have is to plant roots, fast. But it might be better in the long run for you to look at some temporary locations as you get the feel for new neighborhoods. I placed my stuff into storage and lived in a Craigslist room for three months to get a better feel for the neighborhood. There are tons of craigslist room shares, short-term leases, and Airbnbs that allow you to live in a place temporarily. Even staying a full 24 hours in the neighborhood will give you a better understanding of the noise level and traffic in the area, and if you stay a few more days, you can get a feel for the dining and shopping in the area, and most important which restaurants deliver on Seamless.

3. Walk Around

The second-best option to actually staying in the neighborhood is to walk around at different times of the week and day, particularly at night. Nighttime affects neighborhoods differently. Sometimes it might be too loud for your taste. Other times, it might be very empty, which could be a sign that it’s not a very safe location after dark. While most places in New York City are perfectly safe, it’s a good idea to bring a friend with you if you’re walking alone in a new location night. For most neighborhoods, weekends are also a little different than the workweek, and since you’ll be spending more time at home during the weekend ask yourself if this is some place you’d like to spend your Saturdays.

4. Ride the train

Subway line preferences are a big deal in NYC. Nothing is worse than going through a rough day at work and having to ride the loudest, smelliest train home (I’m looking at you C train). Since a commute is such a big part of your day, you also should know what you’ll be in for at 8 a.m. Consider riding the entirety of your commute to determine if it’s something that will work for you. Some lines and stops are a complete nightmare during rush hours, but others aren’t that bad.  Having an idea of what lines you want to live off of can help you narrow down your search.

5. Identify the Essentials within Walking Distance

It’s very easy to live in NYC and not live within walking distance to a grocery story. Stuff like this is a dealbreaker for me. Know what you absolutely need to have within walking distance and don’t stray from it. For me it was:

  • Grocery Store – Bodegas do not count.
  • Pharmacy – When you’re sick you need medicine now.
  • Laundromat – Because please, like I can afford an in-unit washer/dryer
  • Post Office – Trust me, you do not want to walk a mile just to get your Amazon package
  • Good Seamless selection – Because when I’m feeling lazy, I like to order more than just Chinese food.
  • Trees/Greenery – Some neighborhoods have more than others. Having a lot of trees and gardens on my street give me peace of mind.

Ok, so that last one wasn’t exactly essential,but it was really important to me, and I was willing to compromise on commute time to live in a greener area. Know what you want and make sure you can locate it before you sign a lease.

What about you. Do you have any tips for finding your perfect neighborhood? What are your essentials?


  1. Reply

    Hi Heidi – great post. NYC real estate is brutal – for old-timers and newcomers alike. Even harder if you have children. Definitely not something to jump into. But your tips are great. You don’t realize what a big deal it is to not be near a decent grocery store. Or to be really far from transportation. Easy transportation is one of the reasons to live here! Pointless if you can’t take advantage.

    1. Reply

      Right. When I was living a somewhat far distance from a real grocery store, it was tough. I opted to live further from transportation so I could save a few bucks in rent. It’s not a bad setup for me since I bike everywhere, but it is annoying to have to walk 15 minutes to the train in the rain.

  2. Reply

    Thank you for the article. I also think finding a temporary place to stay seems very good idea for NYC. Every neighborhood is very different and you can never know it unless you live in it.

    1. Reply

      Yeah, it’s a little more expensive but the more information you have about your neighborhood, the better. And things move so quickly here.

  3. Reply

    These are such amazing tips! Definitely all such important factors you need to consider when picking a neighborhood in the city.

    And love the overall mission of your site!

    xx Hannah

    1. Reply

      Thanks Hannah! Yeah, I’m hoping the site can help some people out when they try to move here and get settled.

  4. Reply

    These are wonderful tips! I recently came back from NYC and I fell in love with the city that I’m actually considering moving over there. What would you recommend for someone who is at a four-year college? Should I wait until I get my BA or transfer?


    1. Reply

      I’m so glad you fell in love. Honestly, for the sake of money, I’d finish your four-year degree where you are, assuming you’re at a state/cheap-ish college. You can transfer to one of our cheap colleges, like CUNY. But if you’re looking at Columbia/NYU, it may get really expensive. But, the benefits of already living in NYC before you graduate college is you can build a network, which will be helpful in helping you land a job. Email me if you have any questions. I’m happy to talk through it more!

  5. Reply

    These are good tips! I don’t plan to live in NYC anytime soon, but I would like to in the future. Will bookmark this page!

  6. Reply

    Thanks for the article! I’m currently planning to stay in NYC with my two children for one month this summer. Any pointers or suggestions?

    1. Reply

      There are so many things to do with children in NYC. I don’t have children, but I would avoid crazy busy areas and visit our many parks. I’d check out the carousel at Brooklyn Bridge park and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum! Hope that helps.

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