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About New York City: The Big Apple

America’s largest and most diverse metropolis evokes images of skyscrapers surrounding Central Park, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the bright lights of Broadway, and the Brooklyn Bridge spanning the East River. New York City is made up of The Five Boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. As a global hub for culture, finance, diplomacy, and media, millions consider it the greatest city on Earth.

New York’s history is as old as the country itself. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, and the 9/11 Memorial all pay tribute to our shared story. The U.S. National Parks estimates 40 percent of Americans have ancestors who first arrived through New York Harbor.

Living in New York: Empire City

New York attracts tourists and newcomers to its ever-evolving city blocks and neighborhoods. Historic preservation and reinvention are part of the city’s allure, as are strong contrasts. From pizza slices to gourmet eateries with year-long waitlists, New York is where something new can be discovered around any corner. Wherever you settle, it’s said you can get nearly anything you need within a few blocks.

As an epicenter for theater, music, art, food, and fashion, the city brims with creativity and competition. Not just in cultural endeavors, but in cutting-edge scientific and medical research. As the city that never sleeps, its nightlife has a little something for everyone. However, the city’s vibrancy and wealth of opportunities come with great challenges. From housing to food, fees, and taxes, the cost of living in New York is remarkably higher than the national average. Add to that a fiercely competitive job market, and it’s no wonder the old song claims if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.

New York, New York: The Five Boroughs

While many non-New Yorkers think that Manhattan is New York City, it’s so much more. Each of the boroughs has its distinctive flair, contrasting neighborhoods, historic districts, arts communities, and culinary diversity. Whether connected by bridge, tunnel, or ferry, the Five Boroughs offer a wide range of living and working options.

Manhattan: More than 1.6 million people live on Manhattan in just under 23 square miles. Densely populated and extremely expensive, Manhattan is coveted for its dynamic atmosphere and international prestige. Home to New York City government buildings as well as the United Nations, it is truly the center of life in New York City. Iconic Central Park offers year-round recreation, culture, and nature. Museums, theaters, and architectural wonders like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building draw a steady stream of international visitors and new residents. Madison Square Garden is home to A-list concerts and NBA’s Knicks games. Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center are world-renowned performance venues, But if the skyscraper shadows get to you, it’s a short trek to the Hudson or East rivers for a wide-open view.

Brooklyn: Just across the East River from Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge is Brooklyn, the most populated of the boroughs with about 2.7 million residents. Roughly half of Brooklyn workers commute to Manhattan, so its economy thrives when Manhattan’s thrives. Brooklyn is becoming ever more desirable as a place to live, which means less availability at a higher cost. In addition to stellar cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Academy of Music, the borough has pro sports teams like the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA and New York Liberty of the WNBA. Brooklyn, which is on Long Island, also has beaches, such as Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, and Coney Island Beach, which is right next to the famous amusement park.

Queens: Over the Queensboro Bridge, aka the 59th Street Bridge, from Manhattan is Queens, home to 2.4 million. Nicknamed the World’s Borough, Queens has long been known as a kaleidoscope of global residents. More than a hundred languages fill the air, as does the aroma of cuisine from around the world. Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Unisphere sculpture in Flushing Meadows Park symbolizes the borough’s international flair. Queens is home to JFK International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, the U.S. Tennis Center where the U.S Open is held, and Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. Both Queens and Brooklyn offer great views of the Manhattan skyline.

The Bronx: Home of Yankee Stadium, the Bronx is renowned as the birthplace of hip hop music and culture. Located north of Manhattan, the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden draw New Yorkers from all the other boroughs up to the Bronx. With a population of about 1.4 million, the Bronx is the least expensive of New York’s Five Boroughs.

Staten Island: With just half a million residents, Staten Island is the least populated of the Five Boroughs. A great option for those seeking homeownership, its suburban feel is enhanced by magnificent parkland, natural areas, and vast open spaces. The Staten Island Greenbelt’s 2,800 protected acres include NYC’s last mature forest, plus tidal and fresh-water wetlands, rolling hills, and scenic overlooks. Staten Island is close to New Jersey, and connected to Manhattan by boat and Brooklyn via the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which is depicted on postcards almost as often as is the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York City Schools

New York City Public Schools are very highly rated, plus there are numerous private and charter schools. City University of New York operates 25 locations throughout the five boroughs with community colleges, four-year colleges, and graduate programs. Among the exceptional private colleges and universities are New York University, Columbia University, Hunter College, Fordham University, Cornell, and The New School.

New York City Transportation

While exploring the city on foot is a favorite pastime, New York boasts one of the world’s biggest public transit systems. You can get just about anywhere in the city anytime by bus or subway. Port Authority Bus Terminal, Grand Central Terminal, and Penn Station in Manhattan connect commuters and tourists arriving via bus or train to the subway system for access to Manhattan and all the other boroughs except Staten Island. The ferry to and from Staten Island is free to ride 365 days a year. More than 20 bridges and 15 tunnels connect the Five Boroughs dating back to the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883.

New York City Housing

As with every aspect of life in the city, expect competition. Costs, as you’d imagine, are very high. Owners also pay substantial monthly building fees and taxes. Those seeking a rental will likely encounter broker fees. Prepare to pay big for small spaces. Add a premium for views or proximity to a subway station or a park. And if you own a car, know that parking will be a challenge on your time or wallet. But the options are dizzying: From Downtown Manhattan lofts to a single-family home with a yard on Staten Island. Stately apartment buildings around Central Park or along the rivers. Brownstones in Harlem or Brooklyn. Walkup apartments in mixed-use buildings are the norm in every borough. Newcomers often secure sublets. While it requires relocating a lot, subletting is a great way to discover the optimal neighborhood for you to thrive in the Big Apple.