Here are 8 NYC neighborhoods to consider if a quick commute to Manhattan is no longer top priority

Austin Havens-Bowen
By Austin Havens-Bowen  |
June 11, 2020 - 12:30PM

Kew Gardens, Queens, doesn't have the quickest commute to Manhattan via mass transit, but you’ll find cheaper real estate and more space.

Nick Normal/Flickr

Businesses in New York City are slowly starting to reopen, however, once the shutdown is over, many will likely continue to work from home. If you don’t need to be close to your Manhattan office anymore and you’re thinking about a move, you might want to consider one of the city’s far-flung neighborhoods.

Here you can pay lower rents or prices, and you’ll get much more space for your money compared to Manhattan. Some of these neighborhoods, like Todt Hill, Kew Gardens, and Red Hook feel worlds apart from the city's crowded streets, thanks to their parks, traditional architecture, tree-lined streets or water views. In some of these neighborhoods, you can get the feel of the suburbs without having to leave the city.

Sound appealing? Here's Brick Underground's list of the eight NYC neighborhoods that don't really feel like they are in the city, listings currently on the market there, and what your commuting options are when you do have to head to Manhattan.

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in March 2019. We are presenting it again with updated information for June 2020.]

1. Todt Hill, Staten Island

Neighborhood boundaries: Mainly Todt Hill Road, Interstate 278, and Richmond Road 

Median sales price: $709,000 

Median rent: $2,985

Living: Pronounced “Tote,” the hilly enclave of Todt Hill is one of the most expensive and exclusive neighborhoods on Staten Island, thanks to its many million-dollar-plus homes—and its views. Todt Hill is both the tallest natural point in all five boroughs and the highest elevation on the East Coast from Florida to Cape Cod. You’ll find quiet, tree-lined streets, and houses with backyard pools. For dining and shopping, you can find lots of options along Richmond Road like DOUGH by Licastri and Max’s Es-ca.

Todt Hill’s sales inventory is eclectic. You’ll find traditional-styles like this three-bedroom, three-bath Colonial with a detached garage built in 1920 for $699,000 as well as stately mansions, like this palatial six bedroom, five bath with an in-ground pool for $2,385,000. 

Rentals are a bit harder to come by (there’s currently none listed on StreetEasy), and they’re typically in multi-family homes, like this two bedroom, one bath for $1,900.

Transportation: A car is the most convenient mode of transportation for Todt Hill residents; Richmond Road is the closest place to catch an MTA bus. The nearest Staten Island Railway stations are Grasmere, Old Town, and Dongan Hills, which will get you to the ferry’s St. George Terminal within 10-14 minutes. From there, a free Staten Island Ferry ride gets you to Lower Manhattan in 25 minutes. 

2. City Island, the Bronx

Neighborhood boundaries: Long Island Sound, Pelham Bay, and Eastchester Bay

Median sales price: $871,500

Median rent: $1,746

Living: This island is less than half a square mile and about an hour from Manhattan—but feels much farther thanks to its fishing village-like feel. It's a fun place to visit, thanks to its seafood restaurants like City Island Lobster House, and many are open year-round. There are also a bunch of yacht clubs and marinas, and the City Island Nautical Museum

Houses are mostly single-family houses and condos, which are fairly limited on City Island—there’s only nine currently listed on StreetEasy. On the affordable end is this four bedroom, two and a half bath, for $685,000, while on the high end there's this three-bedroom, three-bath house in a gated, waterfront complex with views of Long Island Sound for $1,098,000. 

There are nine City Island rentals currently listed on Trulia, and the most expensive is a three bedroom, two bath for $2,600 that has a porch and one parking spot.

Transportation: Serving the area are the BxM8 express bus and Bx29 local bus, which you can take to Pelham Bay Park to grab the 6 train. 

3. Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Neighborhood boundaries: Coney Island Avenue to Ocean Avenue, and Avenue H to Prospect Park 

Median sales price: $895,000

Median rent: $2,293

Living: Ditmas Park is a historic neighborhood within Flatbush where you’ll find quiet, tree-lined streets lined with large, historic Victorian homes with wraparound porches and lawns that can make you feel like you are in the suburbs. 

But it's not sleepy: Along the three main retail corridors of Cortelyou Road, Newkirk Avenue, and Coney Island Avenue, you can find bars, restaurants, and stores, like The Farm on Adderley, Mondayoff by Plant Love House, and Sycamore Bar + Flower Shop

Some of the historic homes in Ditmas Park have been converted into multi-family dwellings—like this eight-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath Victorian with a backyard and wraparound porch on the market for $2,799,000. You can also find co-ops, like the one bedroom, one bath for $275,000. You can also find some rentals like this no-fee two bedroom, two bath for $2,812.

Transportation: You can catch the B or Q train at a few stations in the neighborhood, and the 2 and 5 are just on the outskirts for additional options.  

4. Roosevelt Island, Manhattan

Neighborhood boundaries: The East River 

Median sales price: $924,000

Median rent: $3,421

Living: Roosevelt Island is a quiet, two-mile-long sliver in the East River between Queens and Manhattan, and it is considered part of Manhattan. While its Main Street will give you a more city-like feel than other nabes on this list, you won't find crowded sidewalks, supertall apartment buildings (or any towers, really, as most residential buildings are only 20 or so stories), and a handful of shops and restaurants. But what Roosevelt Island might lack in excitement and convenience for some New Yorkers is made up for by its ample greenspace, close-knit community, enviable views of the city proper, and colorful history—it once housed prisons and the nation’s first municipal lunatic asylum, part of which was converted into the Octagon, a luxury complex in the northern part of the island. 

Recent additions are the Cornell Tech campus, which opened in 2017 and has a hotel and another institutional building currently under construction. Construction started on the eighth Riverwalk apartment building, which is slated to open in 2020. 

Apartments on Roosevelt Island are often spacious, ranging from updated condos and co-ops built in the mid-1970s, when the island turned residential (it was primarily home to hospitals since 1921), to luxury buildings built within the past decade. This one bedroom, one bath for $850,00 is in Riverwalk Landing, a luxury apartment building built in 2007.

This one-bedroom, one-bath no-fee rental for $2,870 in Manhattan Park has views of the East River and Manhattan, while this one bedroom, one bath in the Octagon is $3,765 and has tons of amenities.

Transportation: The F train connects to Roosevelt Island, and is one stop from to Manhattan or Queens. There’s also the iconic red Roosevelt Island tram that goes over the East River to 60th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan, and the NYC Ferry’s Astoria route stops on the island, too. Additionally, the Q102 bus will get you to Queens.  

5. Belle Harbor, Queens

Neighborhood boundaries: Beach 141st Street to the east, Beach 126th Street to the west, Beach Channel Drive along Jamaica Bay to the north, and the beach and Atlantic Ocean to the south

Median sales price: $762,000

Median rent: $3,200

Living: The biggest draw of this community is pretty obvious: the Atlantic Ocean, which is just a few blocks away from anywhere in this small, tight-knit community. Weekend street parking rules keep the crowds away, and as one resident writes on Trulia, it’s “the only place left in NYC where there are tons of kids playing in the street.” The proximity to the ocean has its dangers too: Belle Harbor was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

Belle Harbor's streets are lined with detached and multi-family houses, some of which are available for rent, though rental stock is scarce. This three-bedroom, two-bath house with a terrace is $2,350, while this renovated four-bedroom, three-bath house with a garage is asking $4,500.

For sales, this four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house for $1,595,000 is renovated and has a finished basement, backyard, and patio. A bit closer to the beach, this traditional three bedroom, four bath is asking $1,100,000.

Transportation: The nearest subway station is Rockaway Park at Beach 116th Street, which is served by the A and S. There are a few MTA bus routes, and the NYC Ferry’s Rockaway route is on the bay side on Beach 108th Street, and gets you to Pier 11/Wall Street in just about an hour.  

6. Marble Hill, Manhattan

Neighborhood boundaries: Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the west, the Harlem River to the south, Kingsbridge to the north and Bedford Park to the east. 

Median sales price: Too few to calculate a median 

Median rent: Too few to calculate a median

Living: Though physically in the Bronx after a reroute of the Harlem River in 1895, Marble Hill is technically considered part of Manhattan and the borough’s northernmost neighborhood. 

This tiny enclave is mostly residential, but you can find some restaurants like Taqueria Sinaloense and Arturo’s Pizza. It’s also just a quick walk across the Broadway Bridge to Inwood or to nearby Bronx neighborhoods where there’s lots of options for shopping and dining. Big-box shopping like Target and Marshall’s and chain restaurants can be found at the River Plaza near the Major Deegan. 

Housing stock is a mix of freestanding houses, like Victorians, smaller Art Deco apartment buildings, townhouses, and a few high-rises, including the recently remodeled Promenade Apartments and NYCHA’s Marble Hill Houses. 

There are a limited number of houses and apartments available for rent or sale right now. But, you can get a lot of space for your money by Manhattan standards like this three bedroom, two bath for $2,810 with a large separate kitchen and a balcony.

This three-family Dutch-style house is one of the only sales listings in the area, asking $1,200,000. It’s one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood and is located on a quiet, tree-lined street.

Transportation: The 1 local subway train is available at Marble Hill-225th Street. The Metro-North’s Hudson Line also stops nearby on West 225th Street, getting commuters to Grand Central Terminal in about 20 minutes. 

7. Red Hook, Brooklyn

Neighborhood boundaries: Gowanus Canal to the east, the Upper New York Bay to the west and south, and the Gowanus Expressway, or I278 to the north.

Median sales price: $1,100,000

Median rent: $2,500

Living: The waterfront area of Red Hook, with its views of the harbor, several cobblestone streets, and turn-of-the-last-century warehouses almost has the feel of a New England city neighborhood. You'll find lots of independently owned restaurants, bars, and art galleries. Some popular local spots include Hometown Bar-B-Que, Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, and Brooklyn Crab. Red Hook's Fairway is expected to close, however the building's owner has said he would replace it with another supermarket. It’s also home to the city’s only full-size IKEA.

The housing stock mostly consists of single- and multi-family townhouses, but there’s also a mix of small prewar rental buildings, historic condo conversions, new construction, and Red Hook Houses, Brooklyn’s largest public housing development.

This newly renovated two bedroom, two bath is asking $2,500 and has an in-unit washer/dryer and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. If you’re looking to buy, you can find condos like this two bedroom, two bath asking $795,000 with floor-to-ceiling windows and an in-unit washer/dryer. There’s also several multi-family townhouses for sale right now like this two-family with a backyard asking $2,180,000.

Transportation: The closest subway station is Smith/9th Street F and G station, but it’s a bit of a walk from the majority of the neighborhood. For buses, the B57 and B61 take you to Downtown Brooklyn. There’s also the free ferry that runs from IKEA to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, and lower Manhattan.

8. Kew Gardens, Queens 

Neighborhood boundaries: Union Turnpike and Jackie Robinson Parkway to the north, Van Wyck Expressway to the east, Jamaica Avenue to the south, and Park Lane to the west.

Median sales price: 325,000

Median rent: $2,000

Living: One of the many planned garden communities built during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Kew Gardens almost feels like a small village with Tudor-style buildings, curvy tree-lined streets, and parks like Forest Park. 

It’s a bit quieter than nearby Forest Hills, which has a similar vibe, but there are popular mainstays like Dani’s House of Pizza, Austin’s Ale House, and Homestead Gourmet Shop, all along Lefferts Boulevard. There’s also Kew Gardens Cinema, an Art Deco indie movie theater that has operated under many names since the 1930s.

You’ll find lots of Tudor and colonial style single- and multi-family houses in the area, giving it a suburban feel. There’s also a mix of large condo and co-op buildings.

Currently there are a number of rentals available in Kew Gardens like this two-bedroom, two-bath condo asking $2,850 with an indoor parking spot. And, this no-fee one bedroom, one bath in a new rental building asking $2,075.

This five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath colonial is currently listed at $1,550,000 and has a backyard and finished basement. There’s also apartments for sale right now, like this one-bedroom, one-bath co-op asking $309,000.

Transportation: The area is served by the E and F express trains at the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike subway station and the Q10, Q37, Q46, Q54, and Q60 buses. And, there’s an LIRR station in Kew Gardens.

—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Nikki Macali.


Austin Havens-Bowen

Austin Havens-Bowen


Austin Havens-Bowen is a writer and reporter. He previously covered local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. He rents a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria with his boyfriend and their two cats.

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