Picking one neighborhood in which to settle down in New York City can be a feat in and of itself. All around the city, you will find diverse communities teeming with culture, events, parks, nature and museums. Whether you want a more laid-back setting that’s close to the city or a home right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, there are up and coming, as well as resurging, family-friendly neighborhoods that offer community, excitement, culture and memories to last a lifetime.
We scoured statistics for the cost of rentals and homes, the quality of education, and the availability of indoor and outdoor family fun, dining and shopping. Our neighborhoods were chosen based on having a close-knit community feel, top-notch schools, affordability (it’s still New York guys!) and a wide variety of offerings in the arts, culture, sports and events for children and parents! Here are our top 13:
Astoria has become one of the hottest places to raise a family. The unofficial Greek capital of New York, Astoria has the best Greek food to be found along with a 15-minute commute to midtown on the N, R, W, or M. Between its multiple family-centered events and venues, along with its family-owned Greek restaurants and quick commute to Manhattan, families have all they need right in their neighborhood. The middle-class vibe consists of a diverse group of parents who enjoy the lower rents and neighborhood feel. The view of Manhattan’s East Side from Astoria Park is nothing less than magnificent.
Hot spots: Museum of the Moving Image, Kaufman Astoria Studios, La Guli Pastry Shop, Astoria Park
Recent median sale value: $475K
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2K-$2,700
Schools: 38 schools in total, including the distinguished I.S. 141 The Steinway
Battery Park City, Manhattan
Snuggled between the Hudson River and the West Side Highway, Battery Park City is always bustling with activity. In many family-friendly neighborhoods, you have to sacrifice plentiful eateries or proximity to venues, but not with Battery Park City. There is everything you need within walking distance, from pharmacies and supermarkets to family activities and nightlife. Or you can enjoy some quiet time and watch the ships come in at the waterfront. Battery Park City’s rate of elementary school student absenteeism is among the lowest of the city, and it also houses the elite Stuyvesant High School.
Hot spots: The Skyscraper Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Teardrop Park, Brookfield Place
Recent median sale value: $1.7M
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $5,500-$7,500
Schools: Three of the highest-ranked schools in the city including the prominent Stuyvesant High School
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
You can live in Bay Ridge for months and still not visit every eatery there. With a mix of renowned staples like The Kettle Black, Hunter’s Steak & Ale House and Uno Pizzeria & Grill as well as with new cafés and restaurants, it’s a busy parent’s paradise. A stunning view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge lights up the neighborhood every night for its native residents and newcomers alike. The neighborhood is vibrant and lively, with many schools, stores and a strong family ambiance. The R train will get you to midtown in 45 minutes, and the NYC ferry can get you to Wall Street in 40 minutes.
Hot spots: Owl’s Head Park, Fort Hamilton Athletic Field, 4.5-mile bike and walking path along Shore Parkway
Recent median sale value: $360K
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $1,800-$2,400
Schools: 12 schools including, P.S. 102 The Bayview
This little neighborhood gem remains somewhat under-the-radar. Not flashy like better-known areas, Glendale has a wonderful family atmosphere with tree-lined streets and two-story homes as well as rentals. While strolling through this working-class neighborhood, you’ll hear church bells and see kids playing ball out in the street. You’ll find stores like Trader Joes, Home Depot, Staples, Panera Bread and Five Guys. Glendale also houses The Shops at Atlas Park, a mall featuring a landscaped courtyard bordered by multiple stores, eateries and a multiplex cinema. Throughout the area, you’ll find some of the best German food in the city. The nearby M and L lines take about 30 minutes to reach Manhattan.
Hot spots: Forest Park, Leone’s Pizzeria, Zum Stammtisch (German cuisine)
Recent median sale value: $1.5KM
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $1,800-$2,200
Schools: Multiple high-quality elementary schools and competitive parochial schools
Glen Rock, New Jersey
It’s no surprise that Glen Rock, NJ, has been ranked one of the best towns in the Garden State by New Jersey Family magazine. With a population of just under 12,000, Glen Rock has highly-ranked public schools and countless community activities with nearly everything located within a 10-minute car ride. Commuting to NYC is available via NJ Transit or by bus. Two train lines service Glen Rock, so the wait times are short and the ride is just 47 minutes to Penn Station. The close-knit community enjoys nature trails, gardens and a municipal pool.
Hot spots: Annual Glen Rock Family Fair, Thielke Arboretum, Francesca Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta, The Glen Rock Inn, Stone & Rail
Recent median sale value: $635K
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2,300-$3,300
Schools: Four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school all receive A’s for academics, clubs and sports, and quality teachers
Greenpoint tends to be more family-oriented than its more popular neighbor, Williamsburg, and yet also has a fabulous blend of innovative restaurants and shops. Charming in its old school vibe, Greenpoint has a variety of available housing: walk-ups, converted warehouses, new condos and row homes. Once known as an industrial neighborhood, it has recently blossomed with creativity and residential offerings. Several churches are scattered throughout the tree-lined streets, and the waterfront is one of the biggest attractions, allowing for day or night strolls and boardwalk fishing. Kids play softball, volleyball, soccer and handball in McCarren Park or the smaller McGolrick Park. You can get to Manhattan in about 30 minutes via the G train or the East River Ferry.
Hot spots: Authentic Polish food, old-school butchers, McCarren Park, Msgr. McGolrick Park
Recent median sale value: $860K
Starting rent for 3 bedrooms: $2,700-$3,000
Schools: Three elementary, one middle and two high schools, including P.S. 31 Samuel F Dupont School, which ranks 9 out of 10 for testing
Harlem has been steadily rising as one of NYC’s best family neighborhoods. The parks are plentiful and 125th Street is bustling with shops, restaurants and bistros. Dominican, Ecuadorian and African-American culture is abundant in both shopping and dining, making it easy to find fantastic food. Kids (and adults) may beg you for regular lunches and dinners at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Birthday parties at the popular Harlem Shake include Double Dutch and swing dance fun. The neighborhood is served by most major train lines and buses and is just 20 minutes from midtown on the subway.
Hot spots: Dwyer Cultural Center, Marcus Garvey Park, Morningside Park
Recent median sale value: $540K
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2,000-$2,600
Schools: Highly-regarded schools, including Central Park East I & II
Prospect Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn
This neighborhood lies at the crossroads of the city, just minutes from both downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. It is bordered by Empire Boulevard to the north, Clarkson Avenue to the south, New York Avenue to the east, and Ocean Avenue/Prospect Park to the west. All major train and bus lines are sprinkled throughout the streets and Prospect Park is just a short stroll away. Stunning historic brownstones, countless cafés, restaurants, family and community activities and events are abundant.
Hot spots: Brooklyn Public Library, The Owl Music Parlour, Prospect Park
Recent median sale value: $1.6M
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2,100-$2,800
Schools: Seven primary and secondary schools, including the Lefferts Gardens Charter School, which has a focus on environmental science
Riverdale, the Bronx
Some call Riverdale the best of both worlds because you gain a wonderful sense of peace, quiet and family life, yet the commute to Manhattan is relatively easy. This northern town in the Bronx was once a summer retreat for the rich, so Tudor-style mansions still exist. There are also many single homes and co-op apartments making it possible for all types of families to live here, as well as several churches and synagogues. The schools, ranging from elementary to college, are some of the most prestigious in the city.
Hot spots: Wave Hill, Riverdale Park, Seton Park
Recent median sale value: $260K
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2,200-$2,500
Schools: Top-ranked public and private schools, including highly-ranked Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy (M.S. High School 141)
Roosevelt Island, Manhattan
According to StreetAdvisor, Roosevelt Island is ranked as the second-best neighborhood in all of Manhattan. Did you even know it is part of Manhattan? With just about 10,000 residents, Roosevelt Island provides what growing families crave: quiet and a small neighborhood feel just minutes away from the glory of the city. It’s a place where you will know your neighbors and your neighbors will know you. On the island itself, there are several family fun offerings, including a 60 foot. community swimming pool, public grills, baseball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, concert areas, several parks and green areas, a community newspaper, farmers’ market and countless food trucks. Considered a middle-class, not upscale neighborhood, prices are relatively affordable (for NYC!) and traffic is light. Overlooking the East River, there are many ways to commute: the tram (from 60th Street and 2nd Avenue), the F train, its own red bus service, ferry service to Queens and Manhattan, and two bridges.
Hot spots: Lighthouse Park, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Four Freedoms Park, Nisi Kitchen, The Octagon
Recent median sale value: $1.4M
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $3,600-$4,400
Schools: Highly-rated P.S./I.S. 217 has over 600 students
The old saying,“You get what you pay for” rings true in Tribeca. While rents are higher than in other areas, everything you want is at your fingertips. You’ll find child-centered sports and activity venues like Asphalt Green, Gymboree and NY Kids Club, several arts and crafts venues and science-centered programs for all ages. The neighborhood has a lot of stroller traffic, and moms and dads meet daily in the local playgrounds. Choices of restaurants, specialty shops and eateries are plentiful. The renowned Odeon is often known as the perfect Tribeca bistro serving up French-American delights. Every major subway line is just steps away, and you can hop on a bus or take a leisurely walk to midtown.
Hot spots: Hudson River Park, The Wonder member playspace and Maman Tribeca
Recent median sale value: $3.8M
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $5,000-$7,800
Schools: P.S. 234 and P.S. 150 get top honors
Upper West Side, Manhattan
This 40+ block family neighborhood, right in the middle of busy Manhattan, is home to 10 playgrounds and three greenmarkets. Between the plethora of nearby museums, cafes, playgrounds and boutiques, the Upper West Side remains one of the top neighborhoods for growing families. It’s also home to two of the city’s most beautiful parks: Central Park and Riverside Park. The Upper West Side is also known for its yummy delis and specialty shops, like Zabar’s, Citarella and Schatzie Prime Meats.
Hot spots: American Museum of Natural History, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Hayden Planetarium, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space
Recent median sale value: $1.1M
Starting rent for 2-3 bedrooms: $2,400-$3,500
Schools: Top public schools P.S. 199, P.S. 87, P.S. 9 and some of the most esteemed private schools in the city
Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn
This quiet neighborhood has a distinct hometown feel. It is a hop, skip and a jump from the busier Park Slope, so you can throw your kids in a stroller and take a walk to the various stores and playground meetups in the Slope, and then walk back home to the peace and quiet of Windsor Terrace. There are beautiful limestone and brick row houses, co-ops, condos and rentals. Prospect Park is the stunning backdrop for this charming neighborhood and you will find yourself there often, no matter how old your children are. There are kid-centered events, music and fishing, and you can walk along the park path to visit the Prospect Park Zoo or the Audubon Center. The F train will get you to midtown in 35 minutes.
Hot spots: Prospect Park, Farrell’s Bar & Grill, Regina Bakery, Dub Pies, Nitehawk Cinema
Recent median sale value: $1.6M
Starting rent for 3 bedrooms: $2,400-$3,000
Schools: Six schools, including the highly-ranked Magnet School For Science And Technology
Some Family-Friendly Apartment Buildings
70 Charlton St
225 W 86th
235 W 75th
344 W 72nd
200 E 95th
500 E 77th
180 East 88th,
180 E 88th
888 Main St
One Brooklyn Bridge Park,
360 Furman St
Instrata Brooklyn Heights,
5700, 5800, 5900, Arlington Ave
The CORTE LIC,
To get a better look at these buildings, check out our Real Estate: 12 Dream Buildings for NYC Families
Danielle Sullivan is a writer, mom of three living in New York City and is a proud Brooklynite. She is an award-winning writer who has won awards from the Parenting Media Association for ten years running. Follow her on Instagram @deewrite.