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14 Best Neighborhoods Near Manhattan, NY

By: Susan Finch
June 21, 2021

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Live in the middle of the action in one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities. There are opportunities for everyone from families to empty nesters looking to indulge in green space and culture. Young professionals and high-powered executives also thrive in Manhattan, where jobs in finance, real estate, retail, and tech.

Despite Manhattan's reputation for sky-high rents and real estate brokers for apartments, you can still find affordable options. Multi-floor walk-ups and apartments away from the action will prove the least expensive. But, of course, the higher rent may be worth the trade-off for Manhattan's rich culture and 24/7 on the go lifestyle.

Ready to move to the city that never sleeps? Here are some of the best neighborhoods in or near Manhattan to turn your big city dreams into reality.

1. Upper East Side

The well-heeled Upper East Side neighborhood is known for its upper-crust community and designer boutiques. Yet, despite the draw for families and young professionals with disposable income to spare, you can still find affordable apartments compared to the Upper West Side and nearby neighborhoods.

The Upper East Side offers a laid-back vibe. Despite its sleepier reputation than most of Manhattan, you can hit up Central Park, shopping, and museums like the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the nightlife, is clustered around 2nd Avenue. In addition, you’ll find pubs, cozy eateries, and karaoke bars throughout the neighborhood.

2. Upper West Side

The Upper West Side sits between Central Park and Riverside Park with access to the Hudson River. It's been one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods for decades and is home to gorgeous brownstones. Culture lovers gather at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, and New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Families, young professionals, and retirees flock to The Upper West Side for its slice of action and culture while enjoying a slower pace. Swanky bars and cocktail lounges are plentiful around the Upper West Side on Amsterdam Ave and Columbus Ave. You're still minutes from Manhattan's nightlife, but without the nonstop party scene.

3. East Harlem

East Harlem, sometimes called "El Barrio," is situated in Upper Manhattan and boasts a mix of Latin American and Caribbean restaurants. You'll also find Italian eateries and pastry shops among the colorful street murals. The transitioning neighborhood is full of colorful culture and a historical backdrop.

The causal neighborhood is alive with small businesses and family-owned bodegas and eateries. Walk-up apartments in brownstones are also more affordable than nearby neighborhoods. There's not a ton to do in East Harlem, but you're not far from the Upper East Side and museums like the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

4. Harlem

The soulful neighborhood of Harlem is steeped in iconic American history and a tight-knit community. The area is renowned for its African American culture and civil rights roots, as it is home to the historic Apollo Theater and Abyssinian Baptist Church. Renters enjoy a vibrant community with cheaper apartments than its nearby Manhattan neighborhoods.

Although Harlem still feels residential, there's plenty to do and see. Soul and comfort food are the norm, including Red Rooster Harlem and the iconic Sylvia's Restaurant. Families enjoy green space at St. Nicholas Park and Jackie Robinson Park for live music and local baseball games.

5. Washington Heights

The Bronx neighborhood of Washington Heights is ideal for college students and young professionals looking for affordable rents. Locals are walkable to The City College of New York and Columbia University.

Washington Heights rose in prominence after the award-winning musical, In the Heights hit the mainstream. Ethnic eateries, community haunts, and natural gems are all cornerstones of Washington Heights. The Cloisters attracts locals and natives looking for stunning views of the Hudson River and Palisades. Fort Tryon Park is also home to walking paths and the most extensive dog run in Manhattan.

6. Inwood

Live in the northernmost tip of Manhattan among the tranquil and tree-lined streets of Inwood. This Manhattan neighborhood has rapidly grown in popularity for its more affordable rents and suburban feel. This community-focused neighborhood is also home to gorgeous views and the last natural salt marsh in the borough.

The namesake, Inwood Hill Park, is the main attraction in this quiet neighborhood. You'll need to hop on the subway and head south to get to Manhattan nightlife, but you still have access to mouth-watering Latin American and Dominican fare. You're also minutes from the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park.

7. Hell's Kitchen

The iconic Hell's Kitchen neighborhood was once home to Irish immigrants and was known for its gritty lifestyle and rough streets. Today, it's become one of Manhattan's most desirable neighborhoods. Brick walk-up apartment complexes are the norm, and rents are climbing. There are also newer luxury condos and apartments for rent with dazzling views of the city and Hudson River.

Hell's Kitchen, sometimes called Clinton, is also home to Off-Broadway theaters, indie shows, and some of the best restaurants in the city. Renters have their choice of new luxury apartments or smaller walk-ups in the heart of the neighborhood. You'll find the most in life, dining, and retail along Ninth Avenue and Tenth Avenue. Eleventh Avenue is along the Hudson but is more industrial. However, you’ll still find some green space and gardens at DeWitt Clinton Park.

8. Midtown East

Midtown East is vibrant and bustling with activities without the party atmosphere. Apartments with waterfront and skyline views are the most expensive. Midtown East is an ideal choice for professionals working in the nearby Chrysler Building, luxury stores along 5th Avenue, UN Headquarters, and advertising firms. It's also popular with families looking to live in the middle of the action with a quieter, laid-back vibe.

Midtown East is incredibly convenient and filled with cornerstone attractions like Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, and upscale shopping. In addition, it’s one of the most central neighborhoods for public transportation, with multiple subway lines running just about everywhere in the city.

9. Kips Bay

The cozy Manhattan neighborhood of Kips Bay sits on the east side of the borough. You may get different answers about its boundaries depending on who you ask. A safe bet is to look at the area bounded by East 34th, the East River, East 23rd Street, and Third Avenues.

Kips Bay is known for its peaceful vibe without the usual flash and glamour of Manhattan. However, renters are still central to everything, including dining and a cinema. You can easily walk or ride the subway into the heart of Manhattan. You'll also pay less rent than for an apartment in nearby neighborhoods like Gramercy.

10. Chelsea

Chelsea was once a migrant neighborhood known for its aging warehouses and blue-collar industries. Many celebrate this desirable Manhattan neighborhood for its nightlife, galleries, and LGBTQ+ friendly vibe. Despite the well-heeled, trendy reputation Chelsea has, it's still possible to find low-key bars and dining. On weekends, locals bike, jog and gather along the West Side Highway greenspace.

The elevated Highline Park winds through the best of Chelsea to 34th Street. The mega sports and entertainment complex Chelsea Piers includes a driving range, ice skating rink, bowling, batting cages, dining, and more. Getting out of the city is also accessible in Chelsea from Penn Station and the New Jersey PATH train. In addition, multiple subway lines are available to take you almost anywhere you want to go in Manhattan.

11. Greenwich Village

Renters flock to Greenwich Village for its stunning backdrop of brownstones, creative vibe, fabulous dining, and shopping. Greenwich Village also gets bonus points for being within walking distance to some of Manhattan's most desirable neighborhoods, including Soho, Chelsea, Union Square, and Tribeca.

Also known as the West Village, the neighborhood is popular with New York University students taking classes nearby and gathering at Washington Square Park. Families, young professionals, empty nesters, and just about everyone in between chooses Greenwich Village as their new home.

12. Lower East Side

The Lower East Side is a quirky and spirited enclave that draws crowds to its party scene nightlife. Music from area venus spills into the streets, and pubs are lively. You'll find an eclectic mix of dining and diverse residents where anything goes. The Lower East Side isn't the place to live if you want a quiet lifestyle. Walk-up apartments are the most affordable, though are often situated above noisy bars. A handful of new luxury highrises are also available for rent.

The Lower East Side is popular with independent spirits and university students attending nearby colleges or NYU. The area is expensive, but there are still thrift stores stocked with designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Like the rest of Manhattan, the Lower East Side is rapidly changing, and it's more common to find updated apartments and condos among aging walk-ups.

13. The Bowery

The popular Bowery neighborhood grew out of a rough-and-tumble history of flophouses and was known as the "Skid Row" of Manhattan. However, the stigma faded, and today it's a popular neighborhood with a namesake Bowery Ballroom known for attracting some of the best indie, punk rock, and music acts in the world.

Despite its high-energy nightlife, the Bowery is also known for wholesale restaurant and lighting supply businesses. You'll find supply shops spanning a block-long among trendy hotspots. The nightlife is noisy, and parties go all night, just the way locals like it. Just make sure to call it "The Bowery" and not Bowery Street, and you'll fit right in.

14. Chinatown

Chinatown transformed from a sleepy neighborhood for immigrants to a thriving district for the Asian community, activists, and small business owners. It once owned a small corner of Manhattan but has morphed to encompass parts of Little Italy and most of Canal Street. Gentrification has also rapidly changed this Manhattan neighborhood over the last decade and is no longer known for its affordable rents.

You'll still find incredible authentic food and a large variety of dialects from Mandarin to Cantonese. Farmers' markets and produce stands are common, and there's always someone to haggle with over housewares and clothes.

Which Neighborhood in nearby Manhattan is Right for You?

Browse Apartment List to find that dream Manhattan apartment.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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