No matter how old you are, or how many kids you have, you can’t stop dreaming. Although, sometimes, our goals get harder to achieve when having little ones on charge. If you’re thinking about living in the Big Apple but don’t know if it’s the right move for your family, keep reading. We might have something to help you make up your mind.
Best family-friendly neighborhoods.
Contrary to what most people believe, NYC is not only not the most dangerous city in the United States but it is also fairly family-friendly and offers tons of activities for both kids and teenagers.
The Big Apple is a really big city with a lot of neighborhoods and, while every corner of the city has something amazing to offer, there are a few areas that will work better if you have a family.
- Upper west side. With around 18 educational institutions, both private and public, a lot of green outdoors, and tons of extracurricular activities being offered, the Upper West Side is a great neighborhood for families, especially those with little kids. You can also find big (for New York standards) apartments close to public transport for reasonable prices. Apartment
- Long Island City. This fast-growing neighborhood not only offers great views but also many art-related activities as well as plenty of restaurants and bars. With proximity to subway and bus stops, you will not miss out on Manhattan life. Gantry Plaza, a big park, is located right next to the water and gives you an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline. You can also get big, decently-priced apartments in this area. Apartment
- Park Slope. Offering over 10 schools, both private and public, and a Special Education School as well as a big outdoor space to play, Park Slope is ideal for families. While close to Manhattan’s noise, this neighborhood feels like an escape from the city thanks to its tree-filled streets. You can enjoy a nice coffee in one of the many, many coffee shops while your kids play or go to an after-school activity. Apartments here are full of light and have rather low prices. Apartment
- Bayside. Bayside offers cheap apartments, with three-bedroom units starting from $2,600/mo Apartment. This area is close to not only schools and learning centers but also Queensborough Community College. Don’t be fooled by the suburban vibe this neighborhood gives, you can still have access to tons of activities and restaurants while having great outdoor spaces with river views.
- Harlem. Close to Columbia University and around 12 schools, Harlem is an excellent environment for your kids to grow and develop. This neighborhood offers a lot of art and music-related activities as well as green outdoor spaces. Being one of the most culturally rich areas in the city, your family will never be bored. Rental here is the cheapest out of all the neighborhoods listed above, with three-bedroom units starting from $2,400/mo Apartment.
Kids and the city
Contrary to popular belief, this city has great educational institutions where your kid can learn more than you might imagine.According to US News Best High School rankings, three of the city’s high schools enter the top 100 schools in the United States of America (Stuyvesant High School, High School Math Science and Engineering at CCNY, High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies) These schools provide exceptional educational opportunities, but it is worth noting that some schools in the city are in need of immediate government intervention.
However, there is a bad side when it comes to schools. NYC elementary schools are divided by districts, and your little one is supposed to attend the institutions in your zone, nevertheless, due to overcrowding, it is possible that your kid won’t attend the designated school and be assigned to another one. When it comes to middle school, each district has its system to assign students to schools. While some districts have zoned middle schools, others allow you to enroll your kid in the school of preference. High schools offer both zoned and choice districts, with priority given to those living in the school’s immediate vicinity. Some high schools also require testing, auditions, or other pre-admissions actions.
If your kid is about to go to college, the Big Apple has a lot of options. From the hardest to get into like Columbia which has an acceptance rate of 4.1%, to more accessible ones like the City University of New York with an acceptance rate of 46%. This last one offers affordable education and easy access to scholarships.
While believed to be the most dangerous city in the USA, New York City is quite a safe place to live with only 14.94 crimes per 1000 inhabitants (almost 4.5 times fewer crimes than Denver, Colorado)
According to a WalletHub study, the city was named one of the best states to raise a family “New York scored well in family fun (2nd), health & safety (9th) and — what may be a surprise to many — affordability, placing 6th. In particular, the state had the 5th-lowest infant mortality rate in the country, and the 7th-highest percentage of people age 12 and up who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19” ₁
As mentioned above, a WalletHub study proved NYC to be more affordable than expected. However, expenses may vary depending on your lifestyle and your kids’ ages. If your children are little, the city can be a bit more expensive for you since the average daycare costs around $16,250/yearly for those under 2 and $11,648 for kids between ages 3-5.
When it comes to grocery shopping, you can save a lot of money going to the local farmers market that usually opens on weekends. This way, you will not only make sure you’re staying on budget but also that you’re getting fresh, healthy products.
New York is a big and diverse city, which means you can find tons of activities for your kids, and you don’t even have to pay sometimes! From digging dinos at The American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West, & 79th Street to taking the Staten Island Ferry, you can keep your kid entertained while learning things and admiring the great views. In addition to that, the city has a great offer throughout the year, just check their website to see what’s coming up.
If you want your little one to do a certain activity, there are plenty of places to enroll them in, like Soccer Kids NYC which provides safe soccer classes throughout the city. Whether your child is interested in sports or art, there are plenty of places to enroll them in classes or programs throughout the city
This might be one of the biggest cons of living in the city since we all know using public transport can be tricky, especially with young kids. However, there’s a bright side to it: while NYC is famous for its subway, the city buses are really well taken care of and will allow you to get to know the city while getting where you need to be.
It is important to make sure your little ones know they have to stay near you and hold your hand while taking the bus or the subway, mostly during rush hour when places get really crowded.
No one wants to have tons of money worth of debt, that’s why New York City offers NYC Care which allows those who can’t afford healthcare to access low-cost or no-cost medical attention with the option to choose their own doctors and buy affordable medication. This program also includes women’s health, alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse, mental health, among others. Learn more about NYC Care here.
In conclusion, New York City can look intimidating for a family but it’s not a bad environment for your kids to grow up in. While it has some cons like the small size of the apartments, or the constant noise, it also has a lot of perks you can use in your favor. Living in a big city can make you kid develop a sense of independence you can’t really find in the suburbs since they will be able to go anywhere on their own as long as they’re old enough to do so.
At the end of the day all that matters is what your family needs. If you feel like the Big Apple is the right place to raise your kids, then go for it!