It’s much more than what you see on “Friends.”

The Big Apple is one of the most iconic places on Earth. With world-renowned theaters, restaurants, museums and cultural sites, the city is truly a tourist’s paradise. But while visiting is fun, a move to the concrete jungle might feel overwhelming.

In this guide, we’ll break down what you need to know before you pack your bags and set off to become a New Yorker.

new york

New York overview

New York City is the most populous city in the United States. Thinking of the city might conjure up images of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the bright lights of Broadway.

However, there’s much more to the city than the tourist hotspots. New York City is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Each has a distinctive personality, with different cultural influences and attractions.

While each area is different, here are some key figures to give you a glimpse of the city overall.

  • Population: 8,336,817
  • Population density (people per square mile): 27,012.4
  • Median income: $63,799
  • Average studio rent: $3,104
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $3,991
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $5,447
  • Cost of living index: 248.6

new york subway

Popular neighborhoods in New York

Between all five boroughs, New York City has hundreds of neighborhoods to explore. But don’t let this intimidate you. They’re all connected by New York’s world-famous transit system, so you can peruse at your leisure. Here are a few of our favorite neighborhoods to get you started.

  • Astoria: Astoria is located in Queens, just across the river from Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This charming neighborhood is made up of low-rise buildings and small businesses, giving it a more suburban feel than you might expect in the big city.
  • Riverdale: Who said you couldn’t get beautiful green spaces in New York City? Riverdale, located above Manhattan in the Bronx, is known for its natural landscapes. With Van Cortlandt Park, Wave Hill and stunning Hudson River views, this quiet residential neighborhood is ideal for New Yorkers who still want to enjoy the great outdoors.
  • West Village: The West Village, located in downtown Manhattan, perfectly encapsulates the New York you know from your favorite movies and TV shows. This charming spot is tucked inside the larger Greenwich Village. It features tree-lined streets, historic brownstones and plenty of well-preserved historical landmarks from the neighborhood’s bohemian past.
  • Upper East Side: The Upper East Side offers excellent residential options and world-famous cultural sites. Located between Central Park and the East River, the neighborhood offers plenty of places to get outside and explore. The Upper East Side is also home to Museum Mile, where more than a dozen art and history museums await.
  • Williamsburg: Williamsburg is a great example of New York’s diversity. The Brooklyn neighborhood has long been a place where cultures blend, with plenty of eclectic dining, art and entertainment options. It’s also known for its family-friendly atmosphere with parks and tree-lined streets.

rockefeller center new york

The pros of moving to New York

There’s no place in the world quite like New York. Here are just a few of the reasons that people love living in this city.

A true cultural melting pot

More languages are spoken in N.Y.C. than in any other American city. With its long, rich immigration history, the city hosts a colorful blend of traditions, cuisines and lifestyles. No matter where you go in New York, you’ll always have the opportunity to learn about a different culture.

There’s always something to do

Getting bored in N.Y.C. just might be impossible. The city boasts hundreds of restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and places to shop. New York City also has excellent parks, scenic riverfront trails and even beaches. You will never run out of places to explore.

No car required

New Yorkers love to complain about their subway system. However, even they secretly know they have it better than most people in the U.S. New York City’s subway serves more than 400 stations, making it a breeze to get where you need to be. The subway also connects to numerous bus lines, ferry stops and commuter trains, giving riders even more options.

new york times square

The cons of moving to New York City

Of course, no city is perfect. Here are a few downsides that you should consider before you move to New York.

The high cost of living

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in America. Here, you can expect everything from your apartment to your groceries to cost a bit more. Space is also at a premium, so even expensive rentals tend to be smaller than what newcomers might be used to.

It’s hard to avoid the crowds

N.Y.C. is the most densely populated city in America. As such, it can be hard to avoid the crowds when you’re out and about. Neighborhoods in midtown and downtown Manhattan can get particularly packed, so plan accordingly.

The realities of big-city living

Living in any big city can take some getting used to and New York is no exception. The city can be noisy, dirty and downright overwhelming. If you’re coming from a smaller city or town, N.Y.C. may feel like a different planet.

How to get started on your move to New York

New York is a city that’s in constant motion. But for the people who live here, no place feels more like home. If you’re ready to join them, then we’re here to help. Visit our Moving Center for free quotes, moving tips and everything else you need for a seamless move to the Big Apple.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in November 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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