There can be many reasons you move to New York City. Cultural. Employment. Following your dreams. No matter the reason, one of your top priorities is undoubtedly safety.
New York City has a bad reputation for being full of crime. The crime rate has steadily decreased over time. As long as you avoid areas of typically high crime – like Madison Square Garden, Times Square, or other tourist hotspots – you can remain safe.
Of course, you also want to avoid particularly bad neighborhoods, especially if you plan on raising a family in New York City. New York City is a beautiful place for a child to grow up, with all the world has to offer at their fingertips.
New York City is a melting pot with disparate wealth levels, a high-density population and cultural differences spread out throughout the five boroughs. That’s where this article comes in! This article will tell you which parts of NYC constitute the safest parts of NYC. It can be a curse but mostly, it is a blessing.
Safest Neighborhoods In New York: Examining The Boroughs
New York City is made up of five boroughs. The one you’re probably picturing is Manhattan. Most TV shows set in New York City take place in Manhattan, like ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Seinfeld.’ As opposed to the much fewer number of shows you might enjoy which are set in other boroughs. For example, ‘Brooklyn-Nine-Nine’ or ‘The King Of Queens.’
Thus, Manhattan dominates people’s image of New York City, but there are four other boroughs, many cheaper and less populated. The other four boroughs are Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx.
Fun fact! Staten Island is one of many islands in the group. Can you guess which other borough is an island? If you guessed Manhattan, give yourself a gold star! If you said The Bronx – close but no cigar. The Bronx is the only borough connected by land with Manhattan.
Most of New York City is actually surrounded by two bodies of water, the Hudson River on the west side and the East River on the east side.
Within the five boroughs are pockets of neighborhoods, each with its own flavor. Very similar to Los Angeles, in fact. Except Manhattan, which is primarily a grid, which makes it a little easier to navigate and a little more convenient for public transportation.
The article will take a look at the safest neighborhoods in each of the boroughs.
First up, not just alphabetically. Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York City, with nearly three million residents. The county Brooklyn resides in, Kings County, is also the second most densely populated county in all the United States! behind only – big surprise – New York County, aka Manhattan.
The wealthy neighborhoods in Brooklyn are as well known as the gritty neighborhoods, which produced some of the most classic hip-hop music in popular culture. Here are the safest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Bath Beach is a neighborhood in Brooklyn which appeared in some beloved films and television shows in the seventies. The commercial strip can be seen in the Gene Hackman film ‘The French Connection’, the opening credits of ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ and most famously, in the opening sequence of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’
Coincidentally, both ‘Kotter’ and ‘Fever’ counted John Travolta amongst the cast members.
Since then, Bath Beach has been ‘Stayin’ Alive’. An underrated neighborhood, it is very family-friendly, with good schools and affordable housing. The median income is close to seventy thousand a year.
The population is around thirty thousand and is primarily Asian and Italian-American. In fact, Bath Beach is renowned for its Italian Restaurants. The average rent falls between seventeen and nineteen hundred for a one-bedroom apartment.
Bath Beach crime statistics put it below the national average in many categories, including rape and motor vehicle theft.
Bath Beach is bordered by Bensonhurst, New Utrecht, Dyker Beach Park and Gravesend.
Bay Ridge is where you want to live if you want to feel like you live in the suburbs, not the city. Colonial style houses, trees lining the streets. Street fairs and parades are common.
Bay Ridge has a population of about fifty thousand people. Most rent rather than own and the median home value is close to nine hundred thousand. The median household income is above eighty thousand a year and nearly half of residents possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree.
One hundred percent of residents say the neighborhood is very or pretty safe and over two-thirds say the police are very responsive. Safety and a family friendly feeling are the hallmarks of Bay Ridge.
Bay Ridge is seventy-six percent safer than other neighborhoods in New York City. It is bordered by Sunset Park, Dyker Heights, Belt Parkway and the Verrazano Bridge.
Brooklyn Heights is considered the safest neighborhood in Brooklyn. Also known as Brooklyn Village, the neighborhood dates back to 1834. Brooklyn Heights benefits from being near the waterfront, where it gets some of its charm.
It is easy to travel to Brooklyn Heights by subway or ferry. The population is over twenty thousand, the ratio of rent to own is pretty even and the median home value is over a million dollars. A whopping eighty five percent of residents possess a Bachelors or Masters degree.
Brooklyn Heights has been focusing on reducing crime, which has resulted in an astounding eighty-four percent drop in crime over the last few decades. The rate of violent crime in Brooklyn Heights is less than that of the city as a whole.
Brooklyn Heights is rated just outside the top ten best neighborhoods to live in all of New York City. It is bordered by Old Fulton Street, Atlantic Ave, the Bronx Queens Expressway and Cadman Plaza West.
Carroll Gardens is a pleasant place with a pleasant name. Carroll Gardens is ranked sixth best neighborhood to raise a family in New York City. It was named after Charles Carroll, who signed the Declaration Of Independence.
Carroll Gardens has a population of under twenty thousand and a majority of those residents rent their homes. The median rent is around twenty five hundred dollars a month. It is considered a dense urban environment. The average income is one hundred eighty thousand and close to eighty percent of residents possess a bachelors or masters degree.
Crimes across all categories have decreased more than eighty percent in Carroll Gardens in the last thirty years. Carroll Gardens is patrolled by the seventy-sixth precinct. The rate of violent crimes is lower than that of the city as a whole.
Carroll Gardens is bordered by Begraw and Warren Streets, Hoyt and Smith Streets, the Gowanus Expressway, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Dumbo stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Dumbo has a thriving artistic community. One of the draws of DUMBO are the converted warehouse lofts that are found throughout the neighborhood.
DUMBO has a relatively small population of just over three thousand people and the atmosphere is described as ‘dense urban’. Median rent is thirty five hundred. The ratio of rent to own is pretty even and the median home value is a little under two million dollars.
Crime rates in DUMBO have steadily decreased as more people move into the neighborhood, boosting the vibrant atmosphere. Crime has declined seventy eight percent in DUMBO since 1993.
DUMBO is bordered by Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights and Vinegar Hill.
Manhattan is the third largest borough in terms of population. You will have to keep reading to find out which number two is. Take your time!
Manhattan is split into the East and West side. Furthermore, each side is divided into uptown, midtown and downtown. Those areas split off into even more neighborhoods. For this section, we’ll take a brief look into the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Uptown east in Manhattan is known as the Upper East Side. The safest part of the Upper East Side is Carnegie Hill. Carnegie Hill is named for one of New York City’s greatest philanthropists, Andrew Carnegie. You’ve heard of the world-renowned music center Carnegie Hall, right? Same guy.
Part of Carnegie Hill is a historic district. The population is around forty five thousand and the median household income is one hundred and twenty-three thousand. The crime rate in the neighborhood is close to the lowest in the entire city.
Carnegie Hill’s boundaries run from Eighty-Sixth to Ninety-Eighth Street and from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue. The Guggenheim Museum is located in Carnegie Hill and Central Park is a breezy stroll away.
The safest Manhattan neighborhood called ‘Midtown East’ is Kips Bay. Kips Bay is home to the world-famous NYU – New York University.
Kips Bay has focused on crime reduction and reduced crime rates nearly eighty percent. It is a very affluent neighborhood. The population is around thirty three thousand and the average income is one hundred thirty thousand, more than twice the national average.
Kips Bay runs from Twenty-Third Street to Thirty-Fourth Street and from Third Avenue to the East River. It is one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Roosevelt Island is a small island off the East River. It is routinely cited as one of the safest parts of all Manhattan. It is often overlooked because it is so tiny and secluded.
Roosevelt Island has a tiny population of about twelve thousand people. The average income is over one hundred thousand dollars.
The crime rate is significantly lower than the average. So low, in fact, that the local police precinct doesn’t even have a sheriff!
Fun Facts! Originally Roosevelt Island was known as Welfare Island, on account of all the hospitals. It was renamed in 1973. Roosevelt Island is only accessible to vehicular traffic from Astoria, Queens, a neighborhood you will learn more about a little later in the article.
Battery Park City
A close runner up for safest neighborhood downtown on the East Side is Battery Park City, which boasts a number of parks, a shoreline and ninety-two acres of nature.
Uptown – Morningside Heights is the safest neighborhood on the Upper West Side. Morningside Heights is home to the Ivy League Columbia University campus.
The population of Morningside Heights is around thirty-five thousand and the average median income is over one hundred thousand. The neighborhood is patrolled by the 26th precinct and crime has decreased over eighty percent since the nineties.
Morningside Heights borders run from One Hundred Tenth to One Hundred Twenty Fifth Street and from Morningside Drive to Riverside Drive.
The safest neighborhood in midtown on the west side is Chelsea. Chelsea runs from Fourteenth Street, the border between midtown and downtown itself, to Thirty-Fourth Street. East to West it runs from the Hudson River to Sixth Avenue.
Chelsea has a population of over sixty thousand and the median annual income is over one hundred twenty thousand. Most residents rent their home, and the median rent is two thousand two hundred dollars.
Chelsea is actually ranked as the number one neighborhood to live in Manhattan. One hundred percent of residents report feeling very or pretty safe in Chelsea.
The safest neighborhood downtown on the west side is Tribeca. Many celebrities call Tribeca home and one of the most important events of the year is held there, Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Tribeca rests upon the banks of the Hudson River and is not only one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City, it is also one of the most expensive, thanks to a focus on crime reduction.
Downtown Manhattan is where the city stops being a grid and turns into named streets. Tribeca is an abbreviation for ‘Triangle Below Canal’ Street. Median income is over two hundred thousand dollars in Tribeca and median home value is two million dollars.
A runner-up for safest neighborhood to live downtown on the west side is Greenwich Village, another haven for celebrities and the wealthy. Greenwich Village was the center of the counterculture movement in New York City in the sixties.
Queens is the second most populous borough in New York City, just a few hundred thousand behind Brooklyn. There are four parts of Queens which rank among the safest in New York City.
Astoria is in the west part of Queens. The estimated population of Astoria is close to one hundred thousand. Astoria was initially an immigrant neighborhood and has seen an influx of young people, thus Astoria is considered quite progressive.
Poll respondents report that there is really no crime to speak of in Astoria and more than half say there is a sense of community in the neighborhood. Astoria is safer than fifty four percent of New York City neighborhoods.
Fresh Meadows has the prettiest, most inviting name. Luckily it lives up to the name. It is one of the safest and best neighborhoods in Queens and the four other boroughs. The name actually dates back to before the American Revolution.
Fresh Meadows is categorized as ‘urban suburban mix’. The population is around thirty thousand and the median household income is over eighty thousand. About thirty percent of residents are families with children.
Crime has decreased by over fifty percent in the last twenty years. One hundred percent of residents report feeling very or pretty safe in Fresh Meadows.
Jackson Heights is another residential neighborhood of Queens which is considered one of the safest. The population is older and diverse. Residents overwhelmingly rent and the median home value is over half a million.
Most Jackson Heights residents report that the neighborhood feels very or pretty safe. Fun fact! Jackson Heights was known as the ‘Cocaine Capital’ in the eighties. Crime has decreased eighty-five percent since then.
Long Island City is considered one of the safest in New York City. It is patrolled by the 106th precinct and has seen crime decline by almost ninety percent since 1990.
As a whole, Staten Island is very safe. Ironically, the safest part of Staten Island has the least appealing name on this list. The opposite of Fresh Meadows. Great Kills.
Yes, Great Kills. Kills is actually Dutch for ‘creek’. That’s where the name comes from. Great creeks. Don’t be misled. Great Kills is safer than ninety-four percent of neighborhoods in New York City. More like great living!
The last borough on our journey is The Bronx, home of the legendary New York Yankees.
City island is first on the list. City Island is part of a group of islands known as the Pelham Islands. You may remember ‘Pelham’ from the thriller movie ‘The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3’ the cast of which was led by…guess who? Travolta!
City Island is notable for the waterfront and the abundance of waterfront staples like delicious seafood and yacht clubs. It is a small, close-knit community with affordable housing and good schools.
City Island is safer than eighty-four percent of neighborhoods in New York City.
Fieldston also has a relatively small population, under seven thousand. The median household income is over one hundred thousand. It is ranked among the top thirty places to raise a family in New York City.
Fieldston crime rates are low, especially for The Bronx, which is home to some of New York City’s most violent neighborhoods. Fieldston has a very few violent crimes and low property crime rates.
Fieldston is considered a wealthy and exclusive neighborhood.
No, Archie doesn’t live there. You probably won’t run into Betty, Veronica, or Jughead. You will, however, run into the city’s northernmost part.
Riverdale is spotted with greenery, parks and pre-war mansions. Riverdale is number three on the list of best neighborhoods to raise a family in New York City.
Riverdale falls in the lowest crime rate classification with a below average crime rate. Residents enjoy Riverdale for the sense of community.
The list ends with a memorable name, Throgs Neck. Throgs Neck is a thriving community, home to irresistible Italian dining and water activities. Technically, it’s a peninsula.
Throgs Neck has a population of around thirty thousand and a median household income in the eighty five thousand a year range. Throgs Neck is safer than sixty eight percent of neighborhoods in New York City.
Oscar-nominated actor Sal Mineo and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante hail from Throgs Neck. Or Throggs Neck, as residents spell it.
Remember The Tips!
Here are a few tips for determining if a neighborhood is safe when considering moving there:
- Learn to read and use crime maps. They can be handy and helpful. There is a methodology so make sure you study them.
- Research vacancies. If a neighborhood has a high number of vacancies or a high turnover rate, it means it is not desirable. This could be because of high crime in the area.
- Tour the neighborhood. Pay a personal visit and get a feel for the atmosphere. Preferably during the day. Not at night, in case it turns out to be sketchy.
- Talk to the residents. There is nothing more reliable than on-the-ground reports. Residents can give you the inside take.
Good Luck. Remember, rents are pretty high in most of these neighborhoods. But safety is priceless, right? Right.
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.