The allure of living in New York City is real. We see it in movies, books, and in the way people’s eyes light up when they talk about it. We’ve romanticized New York City — in part, because it lives up to its romantic persona. But is the high cost of living worth it? For most, it’s not even feasible. If you want to earn a livable salary and live a comfortable life, especially with children in tow, New York can be more stressful than romantic. Besides, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that space really is of the essence, and hustle culture is not all it’s cracked up to be.
According to the New York City’s comptroller in a 2021 report titled The Pandemic’s Impact on NYC Migration Patterns, the pandemic had a major impact on migration in and out of the city. At the time, many people moved to the suburbs temporarily for more space, but they ended up staying there permanently. In fact, since May of 2020, 79% of moves out of the city have been marked as permanent.
If you want to live more comfortably — physically and financially — exploring some cities just outside of New York may be just the ticket you’ve been looking for. They offer the culture, history, and activities you’re looking for but with a more economical price tag and more space. Plus, they’re only a short commute away from the excitement of The Big Apple, so you can still easily get your NYC fix.
Here are 10 of our favorite cities near New York worth checking out.
1. New Rochelle, NY
New Rochelle, NY, a popular city in Westchester County, is a short 18-mile commute from New York City. By car, it’s about one hour away. With the Metro-North Railroad, you can be at Grand Central Terminal from New Haven in a half hour. It’s very common for people who live in New Rochelle to commute to NYC for work or a night out.
As the seventh largest city in New York, New Rochelle, NY, has plenty to offer. Its suburban charm features older homes to marvel at and newly built homes/condominiums where newcomers can reside. With a waterfront along a beautiful shoreline, you get the best of both worlds: urban living and popular beach clubs. There are also plenty of colleges and high schools for young adults to attend.
A diverse population of around 80,000 people are spread out across popular New Rochelle neighborhoods, including Wykagyl Park, Paine Heights, Forest Heights, and Beechmont. Some of the most famous kid-friendly attractions include Glen Island Park, the Rock Club, and the Museum of Arts and Culture.
On Main Street downtown, you can easily find restaurants, boutique shops, and other fun places to walk around. Additionally, there are plenty of newly constructed rental buildings and many co-ops available.
|Did you know? According to Roof Stock, renter-occupied households in Jersey City make up 71% of the total occupied housing units. The secret is out, and more people are renting in Jersey City!|
2. Jersey City, NJ
If you’ve never heard of Jersey City, NJ, then you’d be surprised to know that it’s a part of New Jersey and New York. Now, don’t let this city’s name fool you — it’s closer to New York City than you think! You can easily get to NYC from Jersey City in only 20 minutes by taking the ferry or PATH Subway.
Jersey City, NJ, home to more than 305,000 residents, is known for its young community and college town vibes. Many young adults and couples live here because of its proximity to NYC, where they work or go to school. The city itself has its own vibrant nightlife, boasting tons of restaurants and bars. Its diverse community lends credibility to its diverse food, too. And as the second largest city in New Jersey, its budget-friendly living options make it a top pick for people who want to live in New York without paying its high cost of rent. Head to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by boat or hang out in Liberty State Park for the day. End your night with Razza, a pizza place that won 27th place on the list of best pizzas in the world.
3. Hoboken, NJ
Hoboken, New Jersey, is a city in Hudson County, and it’s just four miles from New York City. Similar to Jersey City, Hoboken is a quick commute to NYC. You can drive through the Holland Tunnel in just 20 minutes. Similarly, you can take a 20-minute bus ride from the Hoboken Terminal to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York or the PATH train into Penn Station. Interestingly, it can be quicker to get from Hoboken to NYC than it is to travel from the east side to the west side in NYC.
With only a little more than 60,000 residents, Hoboken is a small and tight-knit community. It attracts young adults who go to college or are in entry-level roles in their careers. Families who choose to move there, though, will have solid schools and safe neighborhoods to choose from.
The best part? The cost of living in Hoboken is less expensive than NYC and its neighboring Jersey cities. Read everything you need to know about moving to Hoboken in our Garden State Guide to New Jersey Moving.
|Q: Which cities are closer to New York?|
A: Some of the most popular cities that are close to New York City are New Rochelle, Jersey City, Hoboken, and Elizabeth. They are all approximately an hour commute by train or car.
4. Elizabeth, NJ
With that short commute to NYC and affordable housing, Elizabeth is a great place to live. If you’re moving as a family, your Sundays can be enjoyed at the Warinanco Park and Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park overlooking the New York City skyline. You can expect diverse neighborhoods and a solid public school system in Elizabeth. And, fun fact: Elizabeth is home to the first ice cream soda and submarine! Pretty neat, huh?
5. White Plains, NY
In 1776, Judge John Thomas of Purchase read the Declaration of Independence out loud for the first time in the state of New York in White Plains. Then, just a few months later, General George Washington fought the British in the Battle of White Plains. Can you believe that only 505 people lived in White Plains during the late 1700s? The city has grown more than a hundred fold in the last two centuries!
Now, the city boasts more than just a few houses and a courthouse. It has proper school systems, restaurants, safe neighborhoods, and a great quality of life for families.
And if you’re looking for a job opportunity, you don’t even have to leave the city. More than 170 businesses are headquartered in White Plains, including Mastercard, Pepsico, IBM, and Morgan Stanley.
From the Bronx River Path and Soldier’s Monument at White Plains Armory to the White Plains Performing Art Center, White Plains is rich in history and activities to enjoy with the whole family.
|Q: What towns are one hour away from NYC?|
A: Some of the most popular towns near New York City that are no more than an hour away (depending on the traffic), include the following:
• Stamford, Connecticut
• Ossining, New York
• Tinton Falls, New Jersey
• Montclair, New Jersey
6. Ossining, NY
Ossining, NY, is a small, charming village in Westchester County with a population of around 28,000 residents. It takes about an hour to drive from Ossining to NYC and from the Hudson Line 858 train to Grand Central Terminal. It’s not as close to NYC as the other cities we’ve listed, but the lower cost of living makes up for it.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll love the village of Ossining’s quaint streets and hikes through the Croton Aqueduct Trail. Take in its rich history with a Museum in the Streets walking tour and Bethany Arts Community for their art installations. Then, end your weekend watching the sunset over the Hudson River from Sparta Park or Henry Gourdine Park.
Most residents in Ossining own their homes and live a slower pace of life. Even though it’s a small place to live, there are tons of restaurants, grocery stores, and activities for families to enjoy.
7. Yonkers, NY
Yonkers, NY, is a city on the Hudson River in Westchester county. By car, it’s about a 45-minute commute to NYC, and by train, it’s about a half hour on the Amtrak-Metro North Station to Penn Station.
Yonkers is known for its greenery and historic monuments. As the largest city in Westchester County, there are approximately 216,000 residents. Within the city, there are a myriad of busy streets and waterfront views. And since it’s located only two miles north of Manhattan and north of The Bronx, it’s no wonder why people call it ‘The Fifth Borough of New York.”
Yonkers has so many different types of homes to choose from, including lofts, apartments, condos, single-family homes, and multi-family homes. However, there is a higher cost of living compared to other cities surrounding New York City.
“The cost of living in Yonkers is 23% higher than the New York State average and is 46% higher than the national average,” Uphomes.com says. Still, it’s cheaper than living in NYC.
Some of the most popular colleges in Yonkers include Sarah Lawrence College, Manhattan College, and Westchester Community College. Because there is a high Irish-American population, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration is not to be missed! And best of all, if you’re looking to move with a family, Yonkers was rated #6 for safest city in America.
|Q: Which state is closer to New York?|
A: The closest states to New York include Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
8. Stamford, CT
Stamford, Connecticut, might not be in New York, but it’s only an hour and 15 minutes away by car and approximately 50 minutes by the Amtrak train. The cost of living is significantly lower than living in NYC, but it’s still 12% higher than the state average and 37% higher than the national average.
“The New Haven Line is one of the busiest commuter lines in North America, carrying over 110,000 daily commuters. Out of the 110,000 daily total commuters on the New Haven Line, approximately 80,000 originate from Connecticut traveling to in-state or New York destinations,” according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Many people live in Connecticut and work in NYC. Now, with many workplaces allowing work-from-home advantages, some employees can come to New York just a couple days a week from the Stamford train station.
Stamford has many large corporations — including nine that are Fortune 500 companies. It’s become known as “the city that works,” with a growing financial district and growing population of around 139,000 residents. If you want to travel, the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and the Newark Liberty International Airport are just an hour away. And from The Connecticut Grand Opera and The Terry Connors Ice Rink to the The Avon Theatre Film Center and Cummings Park public beach, you won’t have to travel far for family-oriented attractions.
|Pro Tip: Once you’ve chosen a city to live near NYC, have a PODS portable moving container delivered to your driveway, where you can pack and load at your own pace. When you’re ready, PODS will pick it up and deliver it to your new home. And if you need storage, it’s built into every move!|
9. Williamsburg, NY
Williamsburg is a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its young, hipster crowd. It’s near Greenpoint, Bed Stuy, and Bushwick. Since the 1990s, Williamsburg has undergone extreme gentrification, which has transformed decrepit buildings into bars, restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife scene. There are various ethnic groups that live in Williamsburg, which has influenced the neighborhood’s diversity and growing population of about 134,000 residents.
There are a mix of families, young couples, and single people who live in the neighborhood. Most people live in apartments, condos, or co-ops.
Stroll through Domino Park and grab a bite to eat at Misi nearby. Go bowling and see a concert at the same venue at Brooklyn Bowl. Grab a drink and play games at Barcade. Or go to McCarren Park, which shares a border with Greenpoint. There is an abundance of things to do! And the best part? Williamsburg is only a 20-minute drive into NYC, or take the G, J, M, Z, and L subway lines for a half-hour commute.
10. Montclair, NJ
Montclair, a township in New Jersey, is one of the most underrated towns located near NYC. It’s a 45-minute car ride and an hour away by train to NYC. There, you can visit the Montclair Art Museum and the Van Vleck House of Gardens. Or spend the day at Edgemont Memorial Park and the Montclair Brewery.
Montclair has been called “The Brooklyn of New Jersey,” and it couldn’t be more true. They are known for their culture, arts, and small businesses. The streets are clean and the people are friendly. It’s not cheap to live there, but it’s worth it for their highly rated public school district, safe neighborhoods, and local shops. Most people in Montclair own their homes and raise their families in a suburban neighborhood.
|Insider Tip: Before you officially say goodbye to the Big Apple, learn about PODS City Service (a portable moving container service specialized for big city moves), and explore NYC moving costs and options on the PODS Blog.|
Bonnie Azoulay Elmann is an NYC-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Health, and Parents, among others. She is an extremely driven digital storyteller who may or may not have a slight obsession with fanny packs.