Top 10 Affordable Neighborhoods in NYC

Published on Jan 13, 2011

New York City may be famous (and, we would submit, the envy of the world) for many, many, MANY things, but cheap housing is not one of them. That said, even today, after several decades of gentrification, there certainly are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods in NYC, for all types of New Yorkers. And while everyone's definition of "affordable" is, of course, different--and, it should be noted, there are always great deals to be had even within most high-rent neighborhoods--the following ten communities are notable both for their relatively inexpensive rents (compared to similar neighborhoods) and their high scores in many of the standard quality-of-life categories, such as safety, shopping and food and nightlife, public transportation and schools, parks and recreation. Therefore, these neighborhoods represent not the 10 least expensive, but the 10 most affordable/value for the money in 2011.
  1. Sunnyside

    For a New York City neighborhood that's located, via the 7 train, about 15 minutes from midtown Manhattan, rental prices remain astonishingly affordable compared to other similarly located areas. There's not much nightlife here, it's true, but Sunnyside is safe, quiet, diverse, and is home to better-than-average public schools.

  2. Prospect Heights

    For years now development and gentrification has threatened to overrun this solidly middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood but, for the most part, rents here remain lower than other nearby neighborhoods. With lots of terrific local restaurant and bar options and the huge, beautiful Prospect Park an easy walk (or bike ride) from anywhere, Prospect Heights is well worth exploring.

  3. Inwood

    Most of Manhattan can't seriously be considered bargain territory--though, as noted above, there are definite deals to be had all over town. The primary exception? Inwood, located at the northern end of the borough. There's no getting around the fairly long commute to the lower reaches of the island (although the A is a super-express), but the housing stock here is usually in good, pre-war shape, an influx of newer residents has prompted the opening of some interesting stores and restaurants, and Inwood Hill Park is a densely-wooded beauty.

  4. Bay Ridge

    The downside to Bay Ridge, if you work or play in Manhattan: it takes almost 45 minutes via the R train to get to Union Square. The considerable upsides to this South Brooklyn neighborhood: rents that remain more affordable than their counterparts closer to Manhattan, good public schools, pretty streets, plenty of harbor-side parks, and a solid food and nightlife scene.

  5. Long Island City

    Creative types and young professionals have been moving to Long Island City for years now (and, so, have restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques), and the commute to midtown Manhattan, via the 7 train, takes about 10 minutes, but rents remain under control in this Queens neighborhood mostly because of somewhat suspect schools and a general industrial-feeling aesthetic. While the new developments of the past few years have driven up rents, they still remain much more affordable than similar accommodations directly across the river.

  6. St. George

    This Staten Island neighborhood is not only notable for it cheap rents, there is also lots of interesting architecture (especially near the water), a somewhat "underground" indie scene of artists and musicians, and the Staten Island Ferry is right nearby. Schools are just ok, though, and, no matter how close the Ferry slip is to your door, being a resident of St. George still means a 25-minute boat ride away from Manhattan.

  7. Riverdale

    Yes, this Bronx neighborhood feels more like its suburban neighbors just the north in Westchester than anything in New York City proper, but inexpensive rents (compared to Manhattan), plenty of green space, and transit that can be surprisingly rapid (especially via Metro North) make Riverdale a solid option.

  8. Jackson Heights

    The housing in this Queens neighborhood is always a relative bargain and can be quite lovely, especially in the historic Jackson Heights garden-apartment district. Also on the plus side: a vibrant ethnic food scene (see, for example, the "little Argentina/Uruguay" stretch of 37th Avenue), not-bad schools, and lots of subway lines from which to choose.

  9. Greenpoint

    The only subway line that passes through this north Brooklyn neighborhood is the G, which is also the only subway line in the entire system that doesn't ever enter Manhattan. Expect transfers. But the schools in Greenpoint rank among the best in all of New York City, there are lots of good restaurants and bars (and Williamsburg, with even more good restaurants and bars, is right next door), and its small size offers residents a palpable sense of community.

  10. Murray Hill

    Aside from certain stretches of the Upper East Side (mostly along and near Second Avenue) and much of East Harlem, Murray Hill offers some of Manhattan's most consistently "affordable" rents among the prime neighborhoods in Manhattan. And Murray Hill's (albeit deserved) fratty reputation belies the neighborhood's appeal as a good place to raise a family, with its good schools and safe, quiet streets.

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