What's it like to live in New York City, NY?

Katrina Woznicki

Profile written by local expert:

Katrina Woznicki

New York City is America's largest metro area, home to nearly 21 million people speaking more than 200 languages. It's a place written about in songs, it has served as the backdrop for countless movies and it's inspired people worldwide with its grandiosity. Brimming with some of the nation's tallest buildings and historic landmarks, New York City is never short on spectacle. For centuries, New York City has been a leader in trade and culture, redefining everything from fashion trends to what a proper bagel with schmear should taste like.

The metro area is a place of opportunity, which is why – despite the crowds and costs – people keep coming. Some of the world's best theaters, restaurants, museums, parks and cultural activities can be found here. New York City's communities are as diverse as its people, from Greenwich Village in downtown to Harlem in uptown. Beyond Manhattan, the city is comprised of four additional boroughs: Queens, which has a long history of fabulous immigrant food; Brooklyn and its thriving literary and arts scene; the Bronx and its abundant green space and wildlife; and Staten Island with its lovely coastline.

New York City is known for its fast-paced, around-the-clock lifestyle, which may be overwhelming for newcomers. Known as "the city that never sleeps," this relentless metropolis draws those seeking to advance their careers and push their limits. People come to New York City to pursue their dreams, achieve a better life and test the adage "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

New York City, New York is ranked:

#96 in Best Places to Live

#16 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

New York City, NY Quick Stats

  • 20,973,061

    Metro Population

  • $61,925

    Average Annual Salary

  • 62.0° / 47.9°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 38.1

    Median Age

  • $374,814

    Median Home Price

  • 49.9 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.4%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,301

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 35.6 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in New York City, NY?

Affordable housing is an ongoing problem in New York City, with one-bedroom apartments renting for several thousand dollars a month. Housing costs have also risen in the other boroughs – especially Brooklyn, where recent gentrification has led to a booming arts, cultural and foodie scene. Some Brooklyn residents muse that they're feeling priced out of their neighborhoods and are now considering apartments in Manhattan. Those looking to save on housing costs often look to communities in Connecticut and New Jersey, or on Long Island.

Value Index

Index Score: 3.8 /10

How we calculate this.

New York City offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year

New York City


Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in New York City, NY.


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What's the weather like in New York City, NY?

New York City has four distinct seasons. Every spring you'll see flowers growing in area parks, and every summer you'll see people enjoying the sun on the High Line. Autumn brings with it cooler temperatures and the new theater season. Winters are legendary, with the occasional Nor'easter passing through and dumping several inches of snow, which often brings the region to a standstill.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

4.0 in


4.5 in


4.6 in


4.4 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around New York City, NY?

Comfortable shoes are a must in New York City, because getting around usually involves walking (New Yorkers are known for their fast-paced walk). But those who opt to get around on foot need to pay attention when crossing the street. Traffic congestion is a major problem in New York City, and pedestrian accidents are a growing public concern.

Other options include taking a taxi or riding the subway or bus. New York City's extensive subway system consists of more than two dozen lines serving all five boroughs, while dozens of bus routes provide above-ground service. Regional buses and trains also connect the city to suburbs in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York state.

Traffic delays at surrounding bridges and tunnels are common, especially during peak rush hours. While street parking is available, it is often very difficult to find, and parking garages can be expensive. In short, a car simply isn't your best option.

New York City is served by three major airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport on Long Island; La Guardia in Queens; and Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Amtrak and coach bus service is available at multiple points in and immediately outside the city proper.

Commuting in New York City, NY

Means of Transportation
Below national average

Equal to national average

Above national average

Public Transit
Above national average
Average Commute Time

35.6 minutes

9.5 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in New York City, NY?

New York City houses people from all walks of life. More than one-third of New Yorkers are foreign-born, making the metro area a genuine melting pot of cultures. Moreover, New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel and the largest Puerto Rican population in the continental U.S. New York City is also home to a flourishing LGBT community; the annual Pride celebration welcomes thousands of attendees each year.

If some single women complain about the dating scene in New York City, that's because there are roughly 400,000 more women than men.

New York City is a blend of businesses, office buildings, residential apartments and vintage brownstones. Socioeconomic status can vary block to block, such as where sections of East Harlem meet the Upper East Side and northern Central Park.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in New York City as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in New York City, NY?

It's often described as a concrete jungle, but there's plenty of green space in New York City. Local officials are dedicated to maintaining and improving access to green space across New York City's boroughs. There are more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities across the five boroughs. Central Park may be referred to as "New York City's backyard," but the relatively new High Line – an urban revitalization project in the Lower East Side – is fast becoming a favorite among residents and visitors.

New York City is also home to numerous world-class museums, a legendary theater scene and a dizzying array of nightlife venues. Outside Manhattan, nearby beaches lure sun-seeking residents in the summer, while the Coney Island amusement park has been entertaining New York City families for decades.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in New York City, NY