I'm often asked what are the best places to live in Queens. Mainly because it gets less "love" in the press than, say, Brooklyn, in terms of the coolness factor. In a borough this large, and this heavily-populated, there are obviously many different types of neighborhoods and living situations from which to choose.
Where to Live in Queens
That said, most lists of the best places to live would certainly include Long Island City, for the ease of its commute into Midtown Manhattan, plus a burgeoning artistic, restaurant, and nightlife scene; Astoria, again for proximity-to-Manhattan reasons as well as the impressive neighborhood energy should you decide to stay and/or work at home; Forest Hills and nearby Kew Gardens, both of which offer a suburban atmosphere while still remaining very much a part of the city; and bustling Jackson Heights, with its astonishing array of cultures.
Other neighborhoods usually considered to be among the best places to live in Queen are the often-overlooked Sunnyside, where you can usually find surprisingly cheap rents, and not just by NYC standards; Glendale, which boasts both a small-town atmosphere and a relatively quick ride to Manhattan, via the M or L train; and for surfers, there's always Rockaway Beach which, though so far from Manhattan as to make a daily commute undesirable, offers a genuine beach-town vibe.
Perhaps the Most Diverse Borough (in more ways than one)
Apartment buildings in Queens can be extraordinarily diverse in the architectural style of the building, and in the character of the neighborhood within which they reside. From Long Island City, with its mix of rezoned industrial buildings transformed into housing stock sitting next to brand new luxury high-rises, to Rockaway Beach, a bona fide surfer's mecca just steps from the A train with both seasonal bungalows and post-war apartment complexes right on the water. In between you'll find pre-war beauties in places such as Sunnyside and Forest Hills, as well as neighborhoods filled with low-rise buildings with retail on the first floor, and street after street of single and two-family houses.
Queens is home to Forest Hills Kew Gardens and Hollis Hills, which feel more closely related to their suburban Long Island neighbors than to the rest of the city; to Flushing and Astoria and Jackson Heights, those vibrant, densely populated, marvelously diverse communities with some of the best ethnic food in all of New York City; to The Rockaways with their laid-back beach vibe; to Long Island City with it's flourishing arts scene and museums.
Landmarks and Entertainment
Residents of Queens enjoy many iconic landmarks and vital transportation, entertainment, and cultural centers. MoMA PS1, the edgy offshoot of Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art dedicated solely to contemporary art, housed in a former public school. Art lovers also enjoy the Noguchi Museum, which is located near the Socrates Sculpture Park. The Queens Museum of Art attracts both adults and children.
The New York Hall of Science, in Flushing Meadows Park, was established in 1964 as part of the World's Fair (it's near the Fair's iconic Unisphere that's made an appearance in dozens of movies, perhaps most famously when it was destroyed by aliens in Men in Black ). This great facility is always a hit with families. In addition to a number of parks located throughout the borough, the Queen Botanical Garden is a favorite spot for nature lovers.
Sports fans will enjoy Citi Field, home of the New York Mets; and Arthur Ashe Stadium within the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the largest tennis stadium in the world and host to the annual grand-slam event, the US Open. Aqueduct Racetrack, for horse lovers, is located in Ozone Park.
In addition to their usual reliance on mass transit, via Metropolitan Transit Authority subway lines and bus routes, many residents of Queens also have access to the Long Island Rail Road, which has 20 stations in the borough heading into Manhattan or out east to Long Island.
Certain neighborhoods in Queens are also more car-reliant than other boroughs, most obviously in the large, more suburban sections not covered by the MTA, and residents take full advantage of the many major highways that run through the borough, including the Long Island Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck and the Bronx-Queens Expressways.
La Guardia and JFK International airports are both located in Queens as well.
Did You Know?
One thing that all Queens homes have in common, however, is that they were built in the largest borough in all of New York Citythe other four, in descending order of size by land area, are Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Much of the borough is bordered by the suburbs of Nassau County, on Long Island.
It's also the borough with the second highest population, behind only Brooklyn. In fact, were it not part of New York City as a whole, Queens would be the fourth largest city in America, out-populated only by Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn.
While Bronx is known as the birthplace of rap, a number of hip-hop artists hail from Queens, including Nas, Run D-M-C, A Tribe Called Quest, 50 Cent, LL Cool J and Nicki Minaj.