What Are the 5 Boroughs of New York City? Your Guide to the NYC Boroughs
Exploring New York City's five boroughs unveils a world of vibrant lifestyles and real estate opportunities. Each borough—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island–presents its unique flair, culture, and community. From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the serene parks of Staten Island, the city offers a variety of experiences. Whether you're a homebuyer considering moving to New York City or a visitor curious about its offerings, getting to know the nuances of living in this vibrant city is a fascinating endeavor. New York City awaits, with a borough that's just right for you.
From its skyscrapers and museums to the green spaces of Central Park—one of New York City's best parks—Manhattan is the world-famous island that serves as the heart of NYC. It's the center of New York's business and administrative sectors and home to some of the world's most culturally rich attractions and entertainment options.
The borough is bounded by the Hudson River to the west and the East River to the east and has numerous connections via bridges and tunnels to Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and New Jersey. It's the smallest of the city's five boroughs but also the most densely populated, with residents who live, work, and play alongside thousands of tourists. Manhattan is also New York's oldest district, tracing its roots to early 1600s Dutch settlements.
Manhattan is further separated into sections and neighborhoods, each with its unique character. The major sections of the borough include:
- Downtown Manhattan (from the southern tip of the island to around 14th Street)
- Midtown Manhattan (from 14th Street to Central Park)
- The Upper East and Upper West Sides (flanking each side of Central Park)
- Upper Manhattan (areas north of Central Park)
Each area is home to many distinct neighborhoods, including famous ones like Greenwich Village, the Theater District, Chelsea, Harlem, and many others.
The Manhattan Lifestyle
No matter what would-be residents enjoy, they can find it in Manhattan. It's the site of the headquarters or offices of many of the world's biggest companies and boasts a dining and nightlife scene that ranges from sophisticated, world-renowned Michelin-starred eateries to delicious, ultracasual pizza parlors or rowdy dive bars.
There's an incredible selection of art and culture, including top museums like The Met, music venues like Carnegie Hall, and world-famous attractions like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. Even lovers of the outdoors can get lost in the vast, wild expanses of Central Park or enjoy waterfront views of the two rivers.
It's also among the world's most walkable and transit-friendly districts, with almost all residents able to take care of their errands and commute without a car. New York City's public transportation system is among the world's best, with extensive subway and bus service along with traditional and commuter rail access.
Manhattan Real Estate
Even among New York City's pricey real estate market, Manhattan typically sees the highest prices due to its high desirability. Properties are primarily high-rise multi-family units, though a selection of highly sought-after Manhattan townhomes can be found clustered in certain areas.
It's not uncommon to see top properties selling in the $25–$100 million range. On the opposite extreme, very small studio units can be found starting north of $100,000, with homes in Manhattan generally selling in the $1–$3 million range.
In many ways, Brooklyn is the New York borough that varies the most within its borders. Located across the East River from Manhattan and southwest of Queens, it was considered among the first commuter suburbs when development began in earnest in the 19th century. Today, it remains a highly accessible place to live— among the reasons it's home to more residents than any other part of New York and boasts more amenities on its own than many large cities.
Brooklyn has seen dramatic changes in recent decades, as the city's surging population has revitalized neighborhoods into thriving communities that have retained their unique character. These range from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Brooklyn to hip areas like Greenpoint and the Williamsburg neighborhood, to sophisticated, upscale Park Slope, and even old-school waterfront communities like Red Hook.
The Brooklyn Lifestyle
Brooklyn has a well-deserved reputation as one of New York's hippest areas, with an ever-changing mix of restaurants, bars, art galleries, local shops, cultural spots, and much more, all waiting to be discovered. There's truly something for everyone, regardless of their budget or interests, within this district, including a chance for a day at the beach at Coney Island or relaxing among the sprawling Prospect Park.
Residents can also enjoy some of the city's best views and public spaces along the East River, like Brooklyn Bridge Park. Despite a few gaps, Brooklyn is highly transit-accessible via subway and bus and is highly walkable in many areas. Many parts are also convenient to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Brooklyn Real Estate
Homes in Brooklyn are available across a range of prices and styles. Buyers will find low-, mid-, and high-rise apartments, and townhouse-style rowhomes; there are even some areas with single-family homes. While they're still pricy overall, they can offer a more affordable alternative to nearby Manhattan with many of the same amenities.
The highest-end luxury homes in Brooklyn list for more than $10 million, though most homes sell from the high six figures to around $2 million. Buyers can also find studio options starting around $200,000.
The borough of Queens makes up the easternmost portion of the city, spanning a broad area from the East River to the Atlantic Ocean and from Brooklyn to the Long Island suburbs. It began as a more scattered group of settlements on New York City's outskirts, which can still be seen today in the borough's distinctive neighborhoods and less grid-friendly layout compared to other areas of Manhattan.
Some of the best-known neighborhoods include Astoria, famous for its Greek food, the idyllic residential Forest Hills neighborhood, and the fast-developing Long Island City. These, and many others, enjoy a close-knit community feel that will make new residents feel right at home. It's also among the more car-friendly parts of the city, making it ideal for those who need to drive.
The Queens Lifestyle
In many parts, Queens also provides a quieter alternative to boroughs like Manhattan and Brooklyn while remaining connected by quick and easy transit to these areas. However, there's still plenty to do, especially in the area around Flushing Meadows Corona Park, including the Queens Museum and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Foodies will be right at home in Queens, with the ability to enjoy authentic, delicious cuisine from nearly any culture in the world within a short walk, subway ride, or bus trip. Plus, travelers will love that both of New York's major airports, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia, are located within the borough, providing convenient direct flights. One of Queens' most unique features is its share of the best beaches in New York City in the Rockaways.
Queens Real Estate
Queens offers a unique combination of affordability and amenities compared to other New York City boroughs. Median homes sell in the mid to upper six figures, with plentiful options under $2 million. Even the priciest luxury homes in Queens rarely top $5 million, while studio condos can be found starting around $150,000.
Buyers have their choice between apartment/condo units in a mix of building styles, and there are more single-family homes in Queens than in any other part of the city. The former are common in the northern and western Queens, while the latter are more prevalent in the eastern parts of the borough.
Those looking for a lower cost of living in NYC should head up to the Bronx, located just north of Manhattan and bordering suburbs like the New Rochelle community and the city of Yonkers. It's one of New York's most unique boroughs, boasting famous attractions and honors like being the birthplace of hip-hop.
It was among the last areas of New York City to urbanize, only transforming from a rural area with scattered settlements to a developed city in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There's a noticeable split between the West Bronx and East Bronx areas. The former is more built-up, similar to highly developed parts of northern Manhattan, while the latter offers a more suburban, even coastal feel thanks to its extensive Long Island Sound waterfront and unique communities like City Island.
Residents enjoy direct bridge or tunnel access to Manhattan and Queens, with Brooklyn an easy trip beyond. Transit access is more mixed than in some other boroughs, with denser neighborhoods better served by bus and subway service than outlying areas.
The Bronx also offers proximity to a number of New York City schools, including the well-known Fordham University Rose Hill campus, as well as top healthcare services like Montefiore Medical Center.
The Bronx Lifestyle
The Bronx offers more of a residential, local feel than some more tourist-heavy boroughs. While Manhattan may be the site of New York's famous Little Italy, Bronx residents can enjoy even more authentic (and less crowded) Italian cuisine and culture along the Arthur Avenue corridor. The borough is home to the storied baseball team sometimes known as "The Bronx Bombers"—the New York Yankees, who play at their stadium in the southwestern part of the community.
In addition, those living in the Bronx can enjoy Pelham Bay Park, which spans more than three times the size of Central Park and offers trails, waterfront spaces, golf courses, historic sites, and more. Animal lovers will also enjoy trips to the Bronx Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the United States.
Real Estate in The Bronx
While all of Manhattan's suburbs are generally expensive when it comes to real estate, there's no doubt the Bronx offers the best bargains among the five boroughs. Homes in the Bronx typically sell for a mere fraction of those in neighboring Manhattan. However, prices can vary dramatically between neighborhoods due to a variety of factors, including amenities, density, and transit access.
Condos and co-ops list from around $100,000, while even spacious, luxury homes in the Bronx rarely exceed $3.5 million. The former style outnumbers the latter, though less significantly than in many other denser boroughs. The Bronx is also home to the largest housing cooperative in America, Co-op City, which includes high-rise apartments and clusters of Bronx townhouses.
The most unique of New York's boroughs, Staten Island sits across New York Harbor from Manhattan and Brooklyn, separated from New Jersey only by two narrow tidal straits known as Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull. It's undeniably a more suburban area than anywhere else in the city, dominated by single-family homes and preserved green spaces throughout some of New York City's most popular neighborhoods. The result is the lowest population density (and overall population) of any New York borough.
Residents can also avoid the surging tourist crowds and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. However, Staten Island offers a popular amenity-rich district of shopping, dining, and cultural attractions in the St. George neighborhood at the island's northern tip. While most residents commute to other parts of the region, Staten Island is home to a diverse economy of its own—with notable healthcare, manufacturing, and retail sectors.
The Staten Island Lifestyle
Staten Island's more suburban, low-key character is reflected by its top attractions, like the Staten Island Greenbelt, a vast network of parks, golf courses, historic sites, and more—including Historic Richmond Town—a living history museum that preserves remnants of the area's small-town past. Staten Island also enjoys extensive waterfront spaces, including popular beaches and parks like Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach.
Public transit is more limited on Staten Island than in other boroughs, but the area offers some of the easiest driving in New York City due to its lower density. While residents can use the Staten Island Railway and a network of buses to get around the borough, there's no direct link to the broader New York City subway system. However, they also have access to the free, convenient Staten Island Ferry to travel to Lower Manhattan in just minutes. Drivers can reach Brooklyn via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and New Jersey via several crossings.
Staten Island Real Estate
As noted above, single-family detached properties are the most common housing type on Staten Island, supplemented by several townhouses and duplex-style multi-unit homes. Even though lots are typically compact, they're the best option for those looking for a bit more space within the city.
However, condos and apartments are also available in more limited quantities. Homes for sale on Staten Island typically list from the $300s to $1 million, though its most luxurious properties can top $4 million.
Take a Bite of The Big Apple's Five Boroughs
The five boroughs of New York City each offer unique living experiences, rich in community and opportunities. Whether you're drawn to the bustling energy of Manhattan, the artistic vibe of Brooklyn, the food of Queens, the historical roots of The Bronx, or the suburban feel of Staten Island, this city has a place for everyone. Embrace New York City living, where every borough tells a story, and every neighborhood invites you to be part of its unique narrative.