New York City – City Guide

Population: City 8.1 million, Manhattan 1.5 million
Housing Cost Index: 293 Very Expensive (US Average 100)

The Big Apple is made up of five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Each has its own special character, neighborhoods, and dialect (some would say).

Cannot tell Woodside from Flushing? AM New York has profiled city neighborhoods and you can find them all here.


When New Yorkers refer to “the city,” they mean Manhattan (contrary to what your friends in Brooklyn want you to believe). Manhattan is the financial, cultural, and business center of the city. It’s very densely populated, with most of the people living and working in high-rise buildings. Popular high-rise neighborhoods for first apartments are Murray Hill, Yorkville, and the new rental high-rises in Hell’s Kitchen, near Times Square. Another hot neighborhood, Alphabet City in the East Village, offers mostly brownstone walk-ups, while up-and-coming Hudson Heights on the Upper West Side is made up of predominantly older mid-rise apartment buildings. Harlem also has many areas that are on the rise — check out Morningside Heights and the area around Columbia University.


Brooklyn, the largest borough with 2.5 million people, has over the last ten years become a sought-after area for people looking for their first apartments. It has many neighborhoods with lively nightlife, cool restaurants, and sprawling Prospect Park for outdoor activities. Most affordable rentals in Brooklyn are in small apartment buildings or in brownstone walk-ups. The most desirable neighborhoods right now are Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, and Greenpoint. Up-and-coming neighborhoods for first apartments include Bushwick and Cobble Hill/Carrol Gardens.


Queens holds the distinction of being the most diverse county in the United States, featuring small ethnic enclaves of almost every nationality. Popular first apartment neighborhoods with an easy commute to Manhattan are Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Jackson Heights.

The Bronx

The Bronx is the home of the Yankees, but is not a top choice for many first-time renters. It is a very family oriented borough and it is a long subway or bus ride from the cool clubs and other popular entertainment venues downtown Manhattan.

Staten Island

Staten Island is somewhat isolated, but it’s the most suburban of all the boroughs. Commuting to Manhattan requires a ride on the famous Staten Island Ferry or a long bus or car ride over the Verrazano Bridge and through Brooklyn. Consequently, it attracts very few first-apartment renters.

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