A Guide to Living in Queens

Just because you love New York City, doesn’t mean you want to live in the middle of Manhattan. If you prefer to be near all that NYC offers, but not in the hustle and bustle, consider Queens as your new-home haven. Queens is the perfect place for young professionals and families looking for all the benefits of city living, but with a lower price tag. Read on to find out more about living in Queens.

Queens is not Long Island

Let’s get one thing straight. Queens is NOT Long Island. Queens is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Although it may geographically be on a different island, culturally, any Queens native will consider themselves an NYC native. Queens is the largest borough and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island, with Nassau County to its east.

About 2.3 million people currently live in Queens – that’s 27% of all New York City residents. It’s an incredibly diverse area, with Hispanic, Asian, and Black Americans making up nearly two-thirds of the population, and more than half of people living in Queens report speaking a language other than English at home.

Queens Map

Where to Live in Queens

Within Queens, there are several different neighborhoods. One of the most popular is Astoria, which is known for its cultural diversity, easy access to Manhattan (only 20 minutes from midtown by subway), and great housing. Astoria is densely populated, which means you’re always a walkable distance to almost anything, including tons of restaurants, storefronts, tiki bars, and jazz clubs. Astoria was recently named one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world by Time Out.

Then there’s the historic suburban-like half-mile stretch of townhouses in the western portion of Queens known as Sunnyside, whose courtyards and co-ops are quickly scooped up by over-eager buyers. Sunnyside is about 15 minutes from Grand Central on the number 7 train.

One of New York’s oldest communities, Bayside, was settled by the English in the 1600s. This neighborhood has wide streets, hundreds of acres of parks, with ballfields, golf courses, picnic areas and hiking paths, and a large choice of single-family homes. In addition to public transportation, it’s close to the Throgs Neck Bridge to get you to the Bronx and major highways to get you into the city. Bayside is an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a long-standing Italian community.

Forest Hills2

Forest Hills4

Known for its safe streets and excellent schools, Forest Hills is one of the most family-friendly communities in New York. This area is made up mostly of Tudor-style and colonial homes, although there is also a good supply of brick prewar co-op buildings, as well as other condos and larger homes. One of America’s oldest planned communities is in Forest Hills, known as Forest Hills Gardens. Modeled after England’s “garden cities,” approximately 4500 residents live there. The Gardens consists of over 800 free-standing and attached houses and 11 apartment buildings as well as parks, churches, and storefronts. Forest Hills is a quick 17-minute commute on the LIRR to Penn Station.

Cost of Living

Depending on which part of Queens you choose to live in, your cost of living can vary, however on average living in Queens is 40% cheaper than living in Manhattan. Median rent is about $1,400 per month, although less than half of the Queens population owns their own home, where the majority of houses cost more than a half-million dollars (even without a yard or garage).

Taxes in Queens don’t help with the cost of living, however. As we previously mentioned, Queens is a borough of New York City, making this area’s residents on the hook for three different types of income tax: Federal, state and the dreaded New York City tax, which can be anywhere from 3 to 3.8% of your total gross income (even if you don’t work in the city itself).

Plenty of Shopping

Queens has malls — and lots of them. The bigger ones are the Rego Center, the Shops at Atlas Park, Queens Center, and the Shops at Skyview.

School System in Queens

Queens is home to a highly rated education system, which features quality public schools, focused STEM or Arts high schools, and even the top-rated high school in all of New York City: Townsend Harris High School, which brags of a 100% college enrollment rate. Residents also have access to all of New York’s competitive public schools, plus a wide array of private schools, charter schools, and alternative education options for all kids.

Things to Do in Queens

Whether you’re after incredible food, a night out, or time in the great outdoors, Queens has what you’re looking for. Restaurants galore with food from all over the world? Check. The world-famous Rockaway Beach, New York’s favorite surfing site? Check. BBQ areas, playgrounds, and parks? Check, check, and check.

And don’t forget, you’re only a short subway ride into Manhattan, where some of the best dance clubs, concert halls, museums and theater in the country await you.

Why You Should Move to Queens

With is greenery, lower costs, access to beaches, and proximity to Manhattan, Queens is easily one of the best places to live in New York City. It’s a melting pot of food, cultures, young professionals, and family-friendly neighborhoods, that’s steps away from the Big Apple.