Long Island vs Manhattan🤷 | Comparison & Pros & Cons: Which NY Area Is Better for You?


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When most people think of New York City, they think of Manhattan which is the entertainment, financial, and cultural center of the region. Manhattan is known for NYC’s top attractions like Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Times Square. By comparison, Long Island is the suburbs – a slower pace of life and far more green space.

Are you torn between the non-stop action and NYC lifestyle of living in Manhattan vs Long Island’s affordability and space? This guide is for you! Here’s what you should think about to choose between Long Island and Manhattan, New York.

Pros and Cons of Living on Long Island vs Manhattan

Choosing between Manhattan and Long Island may come down to balancing lifestyle and budget. Do you see yourself living in NYC and enjoying the dense urban lifestyle, walkability, and world-class amenities or do you prefer more space, outdoor recreation, and affordability? Here are the major Manhattan vs Long Island pros and cons to think about as you make your choice!

Living on Long Island Pros

Amazing Long Island Beaches & Parks

One of the top advantages of living on Long Island is you’ll enjoy the best beaches New York has to offer, all within minutes! The North Shore beaches are on the Long Island Sound with calm bay waters and rocky terrain. While these beaches are smaller and rocky, you’ll love the dramatic scenery and views from cliffs and forested parks. The Long Island South Shore beaches are long and sandy thanks to the ocean waves. The landscape is flatter, and the beaches tend to be more crowded.

Speaking of beaches and parks, there’s another perk to living on Long Island: it’s a great place for dog owners! Check out some of the best Long Island dog parks and beaches.

Dozens of Charming Long Island Towns to Explore

No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find a town or village on Long Island to fall in love with. If you’re looking for amenities, you’ll love the Town of Hempstead which, if incorporated, would be the second-largest city in New York! It’s home to dozens of villages and hamlets, beautiful marinas and parks, and amazing beaches like Jones Beach State Park. Glen Cove is another one of the best Nassau County towns and one of the original Gold Coast communities of the North Shore.

There are also great Suffolk County towns like Brookhaven which is home to beautiful beaches, a wildlife park and children’s zoo, great shopping, Stony Brook University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. In the North Fork area, you’ll find dozens of wineries – the perfect way to spend the weekend!

Make sure you check out our guide to the best Long Island neighborhoods for more inspiration!

Buying a House on Long Island Is More Accessible vs Manhattan

For most people, living in Manhattan leaves little room for saving up for a down payment – let alone ever owning real estate in NYC. Despite stiff competition and high home prices with the median home value up 22% in Nassau County and 29% in Suffolk County since 2020 alone, the dream of homeownership is still within reach on Long Island vs NYC.

The median home price is $575,000 in Suffolk County and $715,000 in Nassau County. Of course, it depends which town you decide to call home – you can find a handful of more affordable towns and villages that offer the quality of life you’re looking for.

Just be prepared for the high property taxes that come with buying a house in Long Island!

Living on Long Island Cons

Long Island Traffic Is a Pain

The biggest downside of living on Long Island is the traffic. The traffic is infamous – the Long Island Expressway is better known as the world’s longest parking lot. Commuting is a miserable experience, and you’ll be forced to drive most of the time.

Living in Manhattan Pros

World’s Best Museums Are in Manhattan

Art lovers, history buffs, and anyone who enjoys exploring culture and science will appreciate one of the top perks of living in Manhattan: some of the best museums in the world at your fingertips! Here are just a handful of the places you’ll be able to visit on a whim:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art is THE Manhattan museum and a fixture in Central Park since 1870 with artwork from the world’s most famous masters stretching 5,000 years.
  • The Guggenheim, officially the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright with a breathtaking spiral ramp leading to a domed skylight. Between the large permanent collection and ever-changing exhibits, a trip to the Guggenheim never fails to impress and awe.
  • Museum of the City of New York (MoMA) is a gorgeous art and history museum that preserves the history of NYC and its people with insightful exhibits and a collection of more than 750,000 items.
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage is a memorial to the Holocaust with a collection of over 30,000 items including diaries, musical instruments, and toys displayed with Nazi propaganda from the era.

 

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Amazing Manhattan Nightlife and Culture

By day, Manhattan is a commercial and financial hub, but by night, it’s home to a buzzing NYC nightlife with an array of options to explore. You’ll find everything from live music venues and dance clubs with DJs to swanky lounges, cocktail bars, and bustling rooftop bars with unbeatable views. You’ll find the best nightlife scenes in Greenwich Village and East in Lower Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan.

It’s Easy to Get Around

One of the pluses of living in NYC is how easy it is to get around without a car! Manhattan is the easiest of the boroughs to explore and live on foot, while the subway offers an easy and quick way to get around. There are 151 NYC subway stations in Manhattan alone with 32 express-local stations!

Manhattan Is Amazingly Diverse

While living in Manhattan, you will become part of the famous NYC melting pot of cultures and nationalities. There are more than 200 languages spoken daily in Manhattan with residents and visitors from around the world. This exposure to people, ideas, cultures, and cuisine from all walks of life is definitely one of the top advantages of living in Manhattan!

Living in Manhattan Cons

Manhattan Crowds and Tourists

One of the top drawbacks of living in Manhattan, aside from the cost, is you never escape the throngs of people. Everywhere you go, you’ll find yourself shoulder to shoulder with tourists and fellow residents and commuters. This can cause a feeling of claustrophobia, especially since you’ll probably be returning home to a very cramped space.

You’ll need to find your own way to find peace living the Manhattan lifestyle, whether it’s escaping to the quiet serenity of Central Park or taking weekend trips out of the city.

Housing Can Be Impossible to Find (and Afford!)

Affording Manhattan is one thing, finding an apartment in NYC is a completely separate issue. Rent hikes can be astronomical and leave renters quickly searching for a new home – and up against stiff competition apartments that are rented out the day they’re listed. Many apartments are represented by brokers who charge a fee ranging from a month’s rent for less-ideal places to 15% of a year’s lease.

When you do finally find a place, you’ll probably have to make a lot of compromises, especially if you’re lucky and find a rent-stabilized apartment. Maybe you have to accept that your kitchen doesn’t have an oven, your commute is over an hour, or you’re renting a tiny bedroom in a home shared with five or six other people.

Cost of Living in Manhattan vs Long Island

Long Island is one of the top destinations for people moving out of New York City. It isn’t just the space and beaches – the lower cost of living on Long Island vs Manhattan is a huge factor!

Manhattan is one of the most expensive places to live in the world with a cost of living index (COLI) of 258. By comparison, the Long Island cost of living index is 147. Suffolk County is more affordable with a COLI of 132 while Nassau County has a COLI of 162.

Population

While Brooklyn is the most populous NYC borough, Manhattan is the most densely populated yet the smallest in size. The population of Manhattan is 1.69 million living within just 33.5 square miles! That’s a population density of 74,780 people per square mile.

By comparison, the population of Long Island is 2.92 million within 2,826 square miles. Nassau County is about 1/5 the size of Suffolk County but more densely populated with about 4,900 people per square mile.

Additional Manhattan vs Long Island Considerations

Manhattan vs Long Island Lifestyle

When you compare Long Island and Manhattan lifestyles, they couldn’t be further apart. Long Island is the suburbs of New York, and the farther east you go, the more suburban, green, and quiet it becomes. Many people leave NYC and move to the suburbs because they can afford to buy a house, not rent a cramped apartment. Along with the space, you’ll find incredible natural landscapes, beaches, and state parks to explore, amazing wineries, and family-friendly amenities.

Manhattan and Long Island both have their wealth, but it looks very different. Manhattan elites enjoy skyrise living in spacious apartments close to the action with unparalleled views of downtown NYC. In its early history, Long Island was a retreat for the wealthiest families in the world who built mansions on the Gold Coast. Affluence on Long Island takes the form of large estates near the shore, equestrian past times, and frequent trips to the North Fork wineries.

Public Transportation & Traffic: Long Island vs Manhattan

Hoping for a car-free lifestyle or want to save money and your impact on the environment by using public transit as much as possible? When you compare Manhattan versus Long Island, you’ll find living in The City comes out ahead.

Many areas of Manhattan are walkable and getting around by bike is affordable and easy. Manhattan is well served by the subway and buses, and ridesharing and taxis are also an option.

Most areas of Long Island simply aren’t livable without a car unless you’re fine with very long bike rides, limited public transit routes, and most areas being inaccessible. You’ll have the best Long Island commute to NYC from Nassau County, especially areas closest to Queens like Valley Stream, Roslyn, Garden City, and Uniondale. Nassau County overall is best served by public transportation with buses that deliver a frustrating but workable service. There are also some communities with enough amenities within walking and biking distance. Suffolk County, Long Island is less served by public transit and almost impossible to manage without a car.

Overall, Long Island is served by the Long Island Rail Road, the busiest commuter rail in America with stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. Most trains run through Manhattan’s Penn Station.

The commute from Long Island to Manhattan is about an hour to 90 minutes from western Nassau County with a 35-minute drive. The LIRR commute from the same area of Long Island is about 90 minutes to two hours.

Long Island vs Manhattan: Where Are You Moving?

Which is calling to you: the excitement and non-stop action of Manhattan or Long Island’s beaches, parks, and space? No matter which area of New York you’ve decided to call home, Zippboxx is ready to help. Give our Long Island movers a call today for a free moving quote and the 5-star customer service you deserve.


Rob Marchese
about the author, Rob Marchese
Rob Marchese is one of the founders of Zippboxx Moving and Storage. Since the start of the company it's been Rob's mission to change the way the moving industry is perceived.  The number one goal is to make the moving and storage process as stress free as possible for each and every customer. "The way we do this is by honesty, transparency, and providing a high quality of service."
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