The borough offers a tremendous range of neighborhood types and living situations, but any list of the best places to live in The Bronx would almost certainly include the tony, more exclusive neighborhoods of the West Bronx, along the Hudson River. These areas are about as different from the rest of the Bronx (both in perception and reality), as they can get. However, most newcomers to the city (and even many who do live here), tend to paint the Bronx with one broad stroke, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Where to Live in the Bronx
The "West Bronx" area, referenced above, includes Riverdale, Fieldston, and Spuyten Duyvil. Riverdale and Fieldston, two suburban communities, are complete with old-growth trees, rolling lawns, and genuine mansions, in the northernmost reaches of the city. Spuyten Duyvil, which is kind of a more accessible Riverdale, budget-wise, sits close to a Metro North commuter railway station that gets you into Grand Central, and is located across the river from Manhattan. For a completely isolated community--no Metro North or subways--there's Country Club, which is about as suburban as it gets in NYC.
But if you're looking in the southern or even central part of the borough, which offers much less arduous commutes into Manhattan--not to mention much cheaper rents--the best places to live in The Bronx are probably Mott Haven, with its pockets of beautiful old buildings and which includes the area around the Grand Concourse; and Belmont, home to both Fordham University and the borough's own Little Italy, Arthur Avenue.
Why Rent (or Buy) in The Bronx?
A big positive is that The Bronx (generally) has larger apartments for less money than more well-known areas of NYC. With the exception of the toney Riverdale and Fielston areas, you can still find some of the least expensive prices in the 5 boroughs, even in some of the areas of the South Bronx that have begun to gentrify.
Apartments here are more affordable than their counterparts in other boroughs of New York City due to the persistent perception by out-of-towners moving here for the first time (and even by long-time New Yorkers, created by images from thirty or so years ago) than the whole area is somehow blighted.
It's simply not true, and it allows you to take advantage and get a great place in the Bronx now, before the rest of the world realizes their mistake, and prices rise. You'll most likely get a lot more space (even as much as a bedroom or two more) for a lot less money than you would have spent in Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
Landmarks and Neighborhoods
Bronx residents live among many iconic New York City places, as well utterly unique sights and communities, including the new Yankee Stadium, situated next to the site of the old Yankee Stadium, home to 27 World Series Championship teams.
The Bronx is also home to the world-famous Bronx Zoo, as well as the New York Botanical Gardens--250 beautiful acres designated a national landmark. It's also home to Wave Hill, a 28 acre public garden and cultural center often called "one of the greatest living works of art."
The Grand Concourse, now passing it's centennial and the site of block upon block of beautiful, pre-war Deco gems, is an architectural delight. Located on the concourse is the Bronx Museum of the Arts, specializing in contemporary art by New Yorkers of Latin, Asian & African American descent. Also located just off the Grand Concourse is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, now a museum.
The oddball City Island, with its boating community, waterfront homes and massive lobster restaurants will make you feel like you're in Maine or Massachusetts, not NYC. Nearby Pelham Bay Park contains the National Landmark Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum.
Fieldston and Riverdale feel more like suburban Westchester than New York City proper, what with their Tudor mansions and tree-studded private roads. The first-rate higher education institutions of Fordham University and Manhattan College are also located in The Bronx. And, of course, there is Little Italy in The Bronx: the famous Arthur Avenue, with some of the best Italian delis, shops and restaurants in NYC.
Parks and Geography
The geography of the Bronx is very different running east to west. East of the Bronx River, the landscape is flat, in neighborhoods such as Williamsbridge, Pelham Parkway, Throgs Neck, and Country Club; west of the Bronx River the area is much more hilly, especially in communities like Fordham, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, and Morris Heights.
Most Bronx apartments are also likely to be near some sort of open expanse, as nearly a quarter of all the land in the borough has been given over to un- or underdeveloped land, including such New York City landmarks as the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden (which, by the way, contains the last patch of original hemlock forest that once covered the entire city), Woodlawn Cemetery, Riverside Park and Wave Hill. There is also the massive Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortland Park, two of the largest parks in the city.
Did You Know?
The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City. It is the fourth most populated borough in New York City--behind Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, but ahead of Staten Island--and is also the fourth largest in terms of area.
It is also the only borough in New York City that's located almost entirely on the mainland. Manhattan and Staten Island are, obviously, islands, and Brooklyn and Queens are part of Long Island.
The South Bronx was the birthplace of rap, or hip-hop music and culture. This fact gives the Bronx its nickname of The Boogie Down.