17 Pros And Cons Of Living In Manhattan

I live in Manhattan. The pros outweigh the cons. No doubt. The city epitomizes America in several ways, not least of which is the discretion to exhibit your freedom whenever you want. Within limits, of course.

Still, a deeper investigation into the pros and cons of living in Manhattan is necessary. Any complex story requires deeper investigation, and Manhattan is as deep a city as we get in this hemisphere.

Here are the 17 pros and cons that make Manhattan special. Sure, you could go to Chicago, LA, Seattle, and Atlanta. But you wouldn’t be living in the melting pot–fully. Manhattan is the quintessential American town, and it’s picked up a lot of good and bad facets in the meantime.

Advantages of Living in Manhattan

An aerial view of Manhattan. Lots of city lights and bridges. City skyline at dusk.

Everyone loves their hometown. Everyone lists New York City as THE town. What will you meet in THE town when you visit? Below, we’ve outlined the Manhattan pros. 

#1 If You Can Make It Here You Can Make It Anywhere

As of 2019, over 8.4 million people live in the city of New York. This makes it is the 10th most populous city in the world. Where are all these people living? What do they do? They compete with each other for popular esteem. They win great wealth. They find themselves.

It’s true: Manhattan is the center of entrepreneurial work in the U.S. If you have an idea for organic surfboards or IQ tests or fashionable clogs, then New York is the place you’ll need to visit. Sure, it can be hard to establish yourself in a new home, but Manhattan is the most populous acreage in the world (save Tokyo!). You’ll surely find someone to fund your idea.

New York is a central location for several industries:

  • Fashion
  • Journalism
  • Sports
  • Apparel
  • Marketing
  • Technology

If you have a good idea in one of these industries or connections between them, then come. Manhattan will have a job for you. You’ll have to hustle.

#2 Safety in Manhattan? Absolutely!

In the 1980s, New York and Manhattan gained a prominent stain in the cultural eye as the “most dangerous city in the world.” Today, the city’s administrators have brought conscious policing and neighborhood watch initiatives back into the common understanding.

New York is safe. Manhattan is very safe. Just research where you’re moving. In a town with over eight million inhabitants, it’s crucial to find a space comfortable and safe for you.

You can find it. Believe it or not, Manhattan is one of the ten safest places to live in the U.S. Stay away from Central Park after midnight and learn about your neighborhood. Then, you’ll find that Manhattan is comfortable, reliable, and safe for you and your family.

#3 Arts, Museums, History Galore

In 1913, the art world gathered in New York. Then Paris took over and dominated the scene for decades. Today, new Manhattanites can expect to live in the art world’s center again. 

Not everyone likes the arts and history. Manhattan has answers. The many museums in the city display indisputable proof of artistic achievement. Go and visit the:

  • Frick Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Guggenheim Museum

Just to start. Many museums charge minimal fees for entry (less than $20). You’ll gain access to the archives of the fifth largest museum in the world, for one, with those charges. All within walking distance.

#4 Nowhere More Diverse 

Diverse nationalities and identities energize our country. More is better.

Monocultures stifle it. 

Go to Manhattan for the overexposure treatment. There, people of all classes speak over 200 languages.  

Manhattan is the most diverse plot of land in the country. Why? Immigrants in the earliest 20th century helped make Ellis Island a mainstay of American rescue and acceptance. But which ethnic groups can you expect to meet in Manhattan? Some follow:

  • Hispanic
  • Asian
  • Caribbean
  • East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
  • South Asian
  • Eastern European
  • Black
  • White
  • South American
  • Hundreds of others

The melting pot boils all the time. 

But the melting pot remains an American model for immigrant acceptance. 

Manhattan has retained that commitment for centuries.

#5 Social Scene, Night Life

A picture of a hand controlling a DJ turn table. Lots of pink and red club lights as well as people dancing.

Networking is important for several groups of people. It facilitates better economic and cultural relationships between people. Manhattan is the breadbasket where thousands of social groups gather and share their languages, food, and fun.

We hustle in Manhattan. We work hard. Give us a robust nightlife. It’s there, in the form of bars, nightclubs, and other dinner joints. Grab a drink with a friend without a reservation. Stay on a waiting list for your dream 88-course dinner. It’s all within reach.

#6 Food 

What do you expect in a city with over 9 million inhabitants? They will come from all over the world, and they’re going to need to eat. So will you. Come to Manhattan to eat.

Manhattan pizza is a staple. It shows off the expertise of immigrant Italians and other southern European peoples. But don’t stop there. Halal food flourishes on the streets of Manhattan. Roasted lamb spars with national winning hotdogs and hamburgers.

The city boasts over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, for goodness sake. 

Go home, put on your nice clothes, and take a train to a fancy eatery that will blow your mind. Anywhere in Manhattan, you’re within 30 minutes of a world-acclaimed food joint. Just don’t tell them we called it a “food joint!’

#7 Public Spaces Eliminate Need For Car 

The city of New York and Manhattan in particular is a nightmare for cars. You might be traveling through on your way to another city, but Manhattan will stop you in your tracks. 

I consider the lack of cars a pro for Manhattan. Why? It opens up public spaces which would otherwise cover the ground for traffic and large highways. Like European cities, the Manhattan roads limit car travel speed. 

Public spaces are numerous. Parks on every other corner, school parks, botanical gardens, and Central Park above them all, are excellent public spaces.

#8 Fashion World HQ

Into fashion? Don’t have the budget or language skills to go to Milan or Paris? New York is the place to be.

The fashion scene in Manhattan is intense and always on. There’s always something exciting going on nearby. Take the subway a couple of stops, and you’re in the center of an international art fair. 

Or a fashion expo.

Or an award show.

Or a movie premier.

It doesn’t matter much. There are links for you to take to get to your niche. And no niche is unexplored in Manhattan. 

#9 Top-Notch Public Transport 

Any movie worth its weight in salt must show the subway or buses of New York City if the film’s there. The city, especially Manhattan, is known for its efficient transportation.

Hop on a subway, take the bus, go on the train out of the city. Commuters are more than welcome in Manhattan. Some people claim that NYC’s public transport system is the best in the western hemisphere. Take it from me. The trains are always on time.

Cons

What would happen if a city was perfect, flawless? Everyone would flock there. It would get overrun. It would get dangerous. Again. Thankfully, Manhattan isn’t attractive for every single American. There is still space for you. Still, there are problems. Read on!

#10 Rent 

Rent. Rent. Rent. Rent is the chief issue. It drains our wallets. It is very real. In Manhattan, you won’t find relief. The rent is too damn high.

You might come to Manhattan for a job, or college, or family. Regardless, rent is high across the board. Some people have trouble finding affordable rent after living in the same location for years. And it can take weeks to narrow down housing options online. 

You’ll likely have to live with friends or family to lessen rent costs. That’s okay. Be prepared to share everything, though, including showering utensils.

#11 Weather Variables (Wait For Winter) 

A picture of central park in the winter. A bridge and park bench covered in snow. Lots of city lights in the distance.

Is New York temperate? No. It is subject to climate change in an alarming way, and winters are especially affected. 

It used to be that Manhattanites experiences a calm, warm summer and a damp, snowy winter. Now the winter brings a chill and rarely snowfall. The result? Hot summers.

Not only hot summers but humidity is also a factor to living in Manhattan. Trash days are especially pungent in an average summer temperature of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Buy yourself some winter parkas and some summer shorts, and you’ll survive. For now.

#12 Empty Pockets 

Living in Manhattan is not cheap. Most cities in the U.S. are amid an adjustment in the cost of living. But Manhattan is a special case. 

Say you hail from a small town in Iowa. (I know all about this hypothetical person because I lived in a small town in Iowa.) When you move to Manhattan, you can expect a monumental shift in the cost of everyday goods. 

Coffees cost $2 more than anywhere else besides LA. Public transportation will charge you about $1 more than you expect. Rent hikes up 500% in many cases. Be ready to bear those costs.

#13 Bumping Shoulders

Crowds gather everywhere in Manhattan. You’ll need to develop the patience to stand in line, stand near other people, and protest among thousands in Manhattan.

Expect long lines everywhere you go. Restaurants, museums, shows, exhibits, demonstrations. They will all attract thousands of participants. Make sure that you’re ready to wait in line and bump shoulders with others before coming to Manhattan. 

#14 The N’Yark Attitude

The Sopranos. Scorsese Films. Succession. Three different takes on the classic New York attitude. Regardless of the TV series or movies, you enjoy watching; Manhattan encompasses all. 

The minute you enter a Manhattan restaurant or bar, you’ll notice the unique attitude that locals adopt. It’s forceful yet empathetic, impatient yet comic. New Yorkers (by which I mean Manhattanites) display their mood and personality proudly. You’ll have to find your place here. 

#15 Finding An Apartment Is Hell 

You must find a place to live before moving to Manhattan. The city management does not make that finding process easy. Why? Incompetence, but still more the wish to keep others out.

It’s a sad condition. Competition between apartments is brutal. You may need to hire a broker to ensure you’re getting the lowest rates and your living space is up to code.

In Manhattan, people call it a lonely city. The lonely city. What do you do about it? You’ll have to push hard to find an apartment that suits your creative intents and basic needs. 

Expect high broker fees, up to 15% of annual rent. It could be worth it, especially if you’re dead-set on living in a particular district. You can do it. 

#16 Dirt, Muck, Scum, Et Cetera

Even after the “grungy” 1990s, New York remains a constantly dirty, disorganized, and aggressive city. Get used to gummy residues, dirty sidewalks, and sickeningly messy auditoriums.

Dirt isn’t a con for everyone. It’s part of the appeal of this massive, decentralized city. 

But you’ll get used to the grunge and mildew after a while. It’s part of the experience. 

#17 Always ON

There is no country in Manhattan. 

There is no let-off. 

Residents have to find their own means of relaxation. Walk to Central Park, ride the subway to Fire Island. You’ll have to figure out your own way to get away.

Why do Manhattanites always leave the city in the summer? The city is always on. It’s always active, always oppressive if you don’t have the money or time to experience the theaters, restaurants, and galleries.

Moving to New York City? Have lots of energy in the tank because the city of Manhattan exists exclusively to drive success and punish poverty. We know you’ll get by!

Conclusion

Manhattan is the most diverse, energetic, and populous site in the United States. Each new resident redefines it. Each local shares cultural knowledge, which endures. 

Above, we’ve shared the 17 pros and cons of living in Manhattan. The cons are serious, as poverty, homelessness, and alienation are up for question. But the pros outweigh them. An ambitious person can climb here. 

Don’t shy away.