20 Pros and Cons of Living in New York City

Thinking of moving to New York City but not quite sure what to expect from the city that never sleeps? Well, never fear because your friendly, 30+ year local New Yorker is here to answer all your most pressing questions about all the major pros and cons of living in New York City.

Yup, I’m about to give you the inside scoop on the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the pros and cons of living in NYC.

This way, you can quickly and easily decide if New York is the perfect city for you. Because although this concrete jungle is awesome and has been my home for well over 30 years, it definitely isn’t for everyone.

So, use this handy guide now to uncover the hidden truth of living in NYC – realities of living in NYC that you just won’t find in most guide books on the market today.

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Pros and Cons of Living in New York City – The PROS

Let’s start with the good stuff shall we? After all, I’ve been living in New York City for well over thirty years for a reason. So yeah, there’s clearly something extra about this iconic metropolis.

And we’ll figure out exactly what that is in this section about the pros and cons of living in NYC.

1. Diversity

One of the many pros and cons of living in New York City its insane diversity! Just walk around the not-so-mean-streets of NYC and you’ll see people from hundreds of different backgrounds all talking, working and hanging out together.

And that’s just the locals! Because, guess what? NYC gets an average of over 65 million visitors each year. That’s a lot of “I Love NY” t-shirts and baseball caps my friends!

There are also so many people from so many different places that over 800 languages are spoken in New York City every day.

And that’s not really all that surprising when you think about how New York City was once a hugely important place for immigrants arriving in the United States!

2. Food

Mimosas and blueberry pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company in NYC. Brunch is one of the pros on this list of pros and cons of living in New York City.

When you think NYC, I bet you think of food.

After all, anyone who’s ever traveled to this great city has brought with them divine food of their super cool homeland.

Therefore, the amount of culinary choices you have as a New Yorker is truly jaw dropping!

I mean, you’ve got pizzas, burgers, hotdogs, tacos, sushi, curry, noodles, sliders, cronuts, etc. – and yeah, now I’m hardcore drooling just thinking about all that decadent foodie goodness.

With all these imports, there are also some home grown originals and perfected recipes that you can only sample in New York City. And there are plenty of locals who will fight you to the death to defend the honor of NYC cuisine!

Fun fact:The first ever American pizzeria, called Lombardi’s, opened in this city in 1905 – and it’s still open today! So yeah, food is just one of the many pros and cons of living in New York City.

3. It’s famous for a reason – landmarks!

Central Park. The Empire State Building. Coney Island. Grand Central Station. The Statue of freakin’ Liberty! C’mon people, you all know the list goes on and on!

I mean, almost everyone in the world who has seen a movie knows of at least one iconic New York City landmark. Because you can’t throw a rock without hitting something that was built here that is known throughout the world.

So yeah, these buildings are hella ICONIC, and they help put not just New York but the entire United States on the map. I mean, even the skyline of this incredible city is famous – making this one of the epic pros on this list of the pros and cons of living in New York City.

4. History

As far as the pros and cons of living in New York City go, one of the biggest things in its favor is the history.

Especially since this is one of the oldest settlements in the United States. So, yeah, she’s been around, people! And it has been an interesting couple of hundred years!

That’s why, you’ll find museums everywhere here, showcasing countless different aspects of New York, both the physical history and the social story of this great city.

From the styles of the buildings down to the names of the streets themselves, NYC proves its place among the most historically significant cities in the world.

5. Broadway

Bright lights and Broadway signs of Times Square in New York City. Broadway is one of the many pros and cons of living in NYC.

It’s almost impossible to go through life without having heard a famous song from a classic musical. And of these now iconic shows got their start in good old Manhattan.

That’s why, anyone and everyone who wants to make their mark on musical theatre wants to make it big on Broadway. I mean, the fact that “off-Broadway” is a popular term should tell you how prestigious the real thing is … and how fabulous – making this one of my fave pros on this list of the pros and cons of living in New York City.

And once you’re a success on Broadway, the sky’s the limit. Ever heard of Hamilton, anyone? No? Just me?

6. Shopping

Three women shopping in New York City.

Let’s be real, ya know ya girl enjoys the occasional retail therapy and one of the biggest pros on this list of the pros and cons of living in New York City is that I have access to said therapy year round.

However, it isn’t just the greatest city in the world for shopaholics feeling a little down. NYC has access to ANYTHING your little heart could desire, and it has access to some of the best of whatever that thing is in the world.

From runway fashion to obscure foodstuff to amazing bookstores in NYC you WILL find it all here!

7. Public Transportation

Sign for the 14th Street subway station in New York City.

One thing you learn when you travel the world is that when it comes to stellar public transportation, the USA as a whole isn’t winning any competitions.

BUT! New York City might stand a chance! After all, whenever I’m selling people on the pros and cons of living in NYC,I always mention that public transportion is one of the easiest to throw in the pro column.

After all, many of us here are done with ridiculous commutes or late buses that show up with too many passengers (So, you know, you can’t actually get on the darn thing).

That’s why, the NYC subway is like a blast of fresh air when it comes to public transportation. Now, is it perfect? Of course not! But it’s way better than what pretty much any other US city currently has!

Pro Tip: NEVER get in an empty subway car. I know you might feel like you just won the lottery but trust me on this. That subway car is empty for a reason (read, the AC is broken or someone got sick in there).

8. Amazing Parks

Fountain at Bryant Park in the evening.
New York City cityscape at Bryant Park in Manhattan.

People often think NYC is all tall buildings and taxis, but there are over 1700 green spaces and parks in NYC for visitors to enjoy!

And one of the biggest pros on this list of the pros and cons of living in NYC is that this city is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the world, whether you live here or are just visiting!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the big city vibes, but it CAN be super nice to just escape to a quiet park for an afternoon from time to time. They’re also great for relaxing walks.

9. Brunch Spots & Cafes

Decadent brunch at Jack's Wife Freda.

I love brunch an unhealthy amount, and I can confidently say that living in New York City is almost entirely responsible for that love.

That’s why, I firmly believe that this is the greatest city in the world for brunch. Go on, fight me on this pro when it comes to the pros and cons of living in New York City.

Because whether you’re looking for boozy brunch spots in NYC, or more casual NYC brunch spots you will NEVER run out of new places to try.

Anyway, BRB getting some avocado toast and eggs now that my mouth is watering!

10. There’s Just Nowhere Else Quite Like It

Aerial view of the New York City skyline and the Empire State Building.

It’s a vibe, y’all. There’s just something in the air when it comes to New York City.

I know, it sounds like a cop-out, but one of the biggest pros on this epic list of the pros and cons of living in New York City is simply that nowhere else in the world like it exists. The diversity, the angry taxis, the metro, the mind blowingly delicious food.I could literally go on all day.

And sure, other big cities might have similar THINGS, but they just don’t also have the same FEELING as NYC. It’s ineffable and that’s why there’s nowhere else quite like it. PERIOD.

Pros and Cons of Living in New York City – The CONS

I’ve lived in New York City for a LONG AF time. And let me tell you, this city is by no means perfect.

That’s why, I could not in good conscious create this list of the best pros and cons of living in NYC without mentioning some of the not-so-nice things about living up here in New York City.

11. Expensive Rent (understatement of the century)

That real estate don’t come cheap in NYC since we can’t all live like the cast of Friends. After all, New York City is one of the most expensive places to rent in the USA.

I mean, a one bedroom apartment in the main residential areas (aka Manhattan) costs an average of $3000 per month. And that goes up significantly if you need space for other family members as well.

And outside the city center, rentals can cost anywhere between $1600 per month for a one bedroom apartment- at the cheapest – and $3500 for a 3 bedroom apartment.

Yikes! No wonder New York City has over 100 billionaires living in it and why this one fo the biggest cons of this list of the pros and cons of living in New York City.

12. Expensive Everything Else

Upper East Side of New York City and buildings along Central Park.

Honestly, it’s not just the rent that’s expensive in NYC – almost everything you can buy costs just a little bit more in the Big Apple, and sometimes a LOT more.

After all, living in the big city = big prices!

In fact, the cost of living in New York City is over 20% higher than the national average. So, looking for a glass of wine? Well, expect to pay upwards of $12 or more (for a GLASS, btw).

A dozen eggs? Yup, that could cost you an average of almost $5. And WiFi? Almost $50 per month in some cases. Yikes!

13. It gets hot, and it gets COLD

Snow on the ground during winter at sunset in Central Park.

Hey Kelly, doesn’t it get hot and cold, like, everywhere? Why yes it does, but not like in NYC!

I mean, did you know that cities are on average around 10-15% hotter than other places? It’s because of all the people (and their cars and whatnot).

So, the bigger the city, the hotter it is, and NYC is pretty dang big!

But, NYC is also one of the coldest cities in America in the winter. In fact, temperatures can drop down to the single digits in January (New York’s coldest month of the year), and it once hit a record low of -15°F!

That’s why, New York City’s hella crazy weather is easily one of the many cons on this list of the pros and cons of living in New York City.

14. Getting Across Town Can Take a Long Time

Cars and taxis driving across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. One of the many pros and cons of living in New York City is the traffic.

Yes, NYC has one of the largest public transportation networks in the world, with plenty of cabs to boot.

But, the fact remains that getting from one place to another can take a deceptively long amount of time since those blocks are big!

Part of this also has to do with the shape of New York. After all, the city that never sleeps is made up of a ton of islands.

So, sometimes you can encounter a lot of traffic since there are only so many ways to get across large bodies of water.

That’s, if you have to go from one borough to another, make sure you plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time as you do battle with one of the many pros and cons of living in New York City.

15. Very crowded

Times Square crowded with people

Around eight and a half million people live in New York, and they all work all the time. This means that people will be coming and going pretty much wherever you are.

So yeah, that makes it a little trickier to stop and check your phone when you’re in the flow of foot traffic!

Once you add in the millions of tourists that NYC gets every year, things start to go from tricky to crazy AF. So, if you’re looking to take a walk around and see the sights, you’re likely to be doing it in a crowd.

And what with NYC being “the city that never sleeps” that means you’ll be bumping into people both day AND night!

Pro Tip: People in NYC are busy and always on the go. Therefore, don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk abruptly because someone WILL bump into you. Instead, pull to the side (like you would in a car) to avoid any sidewalk related-collisions.

16. Traffic

With all those people come a whole lot of vehicles. So, if you’ve seen a movie set in New York, then you’ve probably seen one of the city’s legendary traffic jams.

That may be because there are over 2 million cars in NYC right now – that’s over 5000 miles of car if you parked them end to end!

So if you jump into a classic yellow NYC taxi, be prepared to spend some of your journey sitting still! Did you know: strictly speaking, it is illegal to honk your horn in NYC if it isn’t an emergency. But that doesn’t stop anyone in a jam!

Pro Tip: Don’t buy/rent a car in New York City. Parking regulations are insanely complex and the cost of a parking garage is absurd, especially when there is great public transportation available everywhere.

17. A Lot of People – A Lot of Dirt

View of the Manhattan skyline from a park on the Hudson River.

Of the many pros and cons of living in New York, this one sounds the most harsh, but it’s true. It’s time for some tough love, NYC.

The city of New York is one of the dirtiest in the USA. But a big part of that is because it’s so big and popular! It’s hard enough to keep an apartment clean, let alone a city the size of NYC, amirite?

So, expect to find large piles of trash on many streets – heaps of garbage that really start to stink up the place during the warmer summer months.

18. Be Prepared for that NYC Attitude

Aerial view of yellow cabs in New York City.

“I’m walkin’ heeyaahhh!”

New Yorkers are nothing if not honest. If there’s something bothering them, or they’ve got something they wanna say, they WILL TELL YOU. So be prepared for some opinions, y’all! I know it may come across as rude sometimes but don’t take in personally.

That’s just how it is here and one of the many pros and cons of living in New York City.

Part of this is because New Yorkers have got someplace to be. If you get in the way even for a second, it can throw off their vibe. All I can say is that at least it will be short – time is money, and this is the home of Wall Street, after all!

Pro Tip: When paying for anything, have your cash/credit card in hand and ready to go. Also, quickly put your money back in your wallet and move to the side once you’re done with a transaction since New Yorkers are impatient AF and don’t have time to wait around for you to get your stuff together.

19, New York is Not Quiet

It’s the “city that never sleeps”, and if you’re not careful, neither will you!

It’s true that something is ALWAYS happening here, and it’s one of the biggest cons on this list of the pros and cons of living in NYC.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have been woken up more than once by wailing sirens, honking horns, and various other inexplicably loud noises.

But honestly, over time, you kinda get used to the noise and it all just becomes part of a constantly static background noise.

At least, for me it has. I barely notice now until friends visit and point it out.

20. You’ll Never Be Able to See and Do it All

Aerial view of Manhattan in New York City.

The FOMO is real, people. After all, one of the great pros and cons of living in New York City is that there is literally too much to do.

There’s too much food to eat, too many places to go, too many shows to see, too many parks to try out … This point might feel like a flex, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

The good news? Everyone who knows New York will have a different story to tell about it, which can sometimes be a drag when you forget how good of a time you had since people are discussing all the things they did on their trip that you just didn’t get to.

But if you’re living in New York, you’ll have plenty of time to try and do ALL the things.

Additional New York Travel Resources You’ll Love

There you have it! That just about concludes this guide to 20 of the pros and cons of living in NYC!

Tell me, did your favorite advantages of living in New York make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below!

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