So…why the Upper East Side?
I’ve heard this question countless times since I moved to New York City back in February. It is either that question or the blatant look of shock that a 2014 graduate is living in what is known as the most “glamorous” neighborhood in the Big Apple *cough* Gossip Girl *cough* I’ve had a few readers reach out to me about moving to NYC and the Upper East Side so I thought I’d shed some light on my decision to live in this neighborhood vs all the other amazing ones in this city.
First and foremost, the main reason why I initially moved to the Upper East Side was that the apartment I found through my sorority’s NYC Alumni Facebook group was here. It just so happened that a fellow Delta Gamma had a room available in a duplex apartment in this neighborhood. It was February, and after commuting for almost five months from New Jersey through that crazy winter, I was ready to live pretty much anywhere! Since I only lived in this apartment with a roommate for about five to six months, I want to explain why I decided to stay in the Upper East Side in my new studio apartment.
At the end of the day, price reigns supreme when looking for an apartment. Although I (like all New Yorkers!) have a wish list for my dream apartment, cost trumps all. The Upper East Side is hands down one of the cheapest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Now, before you start imagining my apartment like the ones on Gossip Girl, let me stop you right there. I do NOT live between Park and Madison Ave. The avenues closest to Central Park are significantly more expensive than those closer to the East River. Many recent graduates opt to live on East End and York Avenue, because although it is very far east, the price is right! It is a longer walk to the subway, but there are bus lines that run up and down the avenues which is beneficial for people who work downtown on the east side of the city. Surprisingly, East End, York, First, and Second Avenue have some of the cheapest rent in the city. However, this may change when the 2nd avenue subway line eventually opens!
The second reason I chose the Upper East Side is that I was not interested in living outside of Manhattan. No, I am not like Miranda from Sex & the City who cringed at the thought of leaving her longtime borough for Brooklyn. I have nothing against other neighborhoods, I just didn’t want to leave one commute for another. Although Queens and Brooklyn also have great options for apartments, the commute would be only slightly better than my old one from New Jersey to work every day. I was not willing to do that to myself again! That being said, I do have several friends who live in Queens and it has been a great option for them!
Going off the commute, I love that it takes me at most a half hour to get to work! On a good day (meaning I somehow miraculously get to the subway station right when a train is pulling in!) I can make it in 20 minutes. This is something I dreamed about during my commuting months last winter. I also love that I can walk home through Central Park. It is a great way for me to unwind from the day and take a break from staring at a computer screen. It also helps me reconnect to nature, instead of constantly feeling bombarded and claustrophobic from the endless sea of skyscrapers. I really value that I live near Central Park and that if there is ever major subway craziness (i.e. a train hasn’t come in over 10 minutes during rush hour = TONS of people pushing on a platform #scary!) I can ALWAYS walk home.
I think my most unexpected and favorite part about the Upper East Side is how safe and familiar it feels. I love that when I walk to the subway each morning I see families taking their kids to school. This is definitely a family neighborhood and it feels welcoming and comfortable. I often joke to my friends that I see more dogs in strollers than babies here. It is definitely a neighborhood that people live in, rather than one filled with corporate buildings. I also love how safe I have felt since moving to the Upper East Side. Of course I am always aware of my surroundings, but I like that I don’t feel unsafe walking home late at night. I am starting to recognize familiar faces and it makes this city feel less overwhelming.
Now you may be wondering why a young twenty something isn’t living downtown where all the nightlife is happening. Well I can sum that up in 2 ways 1) It is WAY too expensive to live there and 2) I like that I can go to the party, but come home to the quiet whenever I please. Let’s face it, the Upper East Side is NOT the neighborhood with the raging clubs and insane night life. But that being said, I LOVE that fact. In college, I chose to live in the on campus apartments rather than the houses downtown where fraternities threw their parties. I always liked that it was a short walk to those parties, but that whenever I chose to leave I could come home and go to sleep without worry of noise. In my studio apartment, I don’t have to worry about drunk girls screaming outside my window on any given weekend. Also, it is VERY easy for me to grab a cab home and head back uptown at a moments notice.
I think the main reason I have loved living in the Upper East Side since I moved here is that this neighborhood just feels like me. I know it sounds weird, but I love that I can walk to Central Park or the Carl Schurz park after work to read a book. Or on a rainy Sunday I can easily check out The Met’s latest exhibit. It is a pretty neighborhood and one that I am constantly finding new places to explore. I have found my favorite coffee shop only a few blocks away and I have mastered a great routine with the nearby stores. Although there is of course more to experience, I think that this neighborhood is the best fit for me. That being said, when my lease is up next year, who knows! I may be dying to live down in the Lower East Side or the West Village. Only time will tell where I will live next, but for now I am completely content in my little studio apartment on the Upper East Side.