5 Affordable, Under-the-Radar Neighborhoods in NYC

In New York City, neighborhoods constantly volley for the title of hippest, cheapest, most expensive or best place to raise a family. But superlatives have their limitations, so instead of chasing trends and popularity, we’re exploring the lesser-known gems and enclaves of NYC. Check out these five under-the-radar neighborhoods that you and your friends would never consider before.

Woodside, Queens

under the radar neighborhoods nyc
(Source: Joshua Pomales via Flickr Creative Commons)

Even though a lot of people pass over it in favor of Astoria and Long Island City, Woodside is a great option with easy access to the city. And those who pooh-pooh it are making a big mistake. Woodside perfectly combines the diversity of Western Queens with the middle-class suburban vibe of Eastern Queens, all at a reasonable price. For example, 2 bedrooms run around $1,800.

>>See apartments under $2,500/month in Woodside

With relatively quiet streets and kids playing on the sidewalks, there’s definitely a relaxed, small-town feel. And the 7 and the E/F/M/R line can whisk you into Midtown in 30 minutes.

The best way to explore Woodside is to walk down Roosevelt Avenue under the train tracks. A quick jaunt will take you past Filipino, Mexican and Irish haunts, not to mention some of the best Thai food in NYC. Two-story brick houses are the norm here but more people are showing up for the new building developments and increased opportunities to rent.

Flatbush, Brooklyn

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The one-time hometown of Bernie Sanders and Busta Rhymes is once again growing in popularity. Flatbush is a large neighborhood with diverse neighbors and shops and affordable rents that average around $1,750.

>>See apartments in Flatbush under $2,500

This neighborhood is bustling with historical micro-neighborhoods that make walking its streets truly rewarding. The Albemarle-Kenmore Terraces Historic District might as well be pulled out of a side street in a small English town. Fiske Terrace is an enclave ripped from an Edward Hopper painting complete with rocking chairs on the porch of the Q train stop at Avenue H.

Flatbush is quiet but not out of the way. The B/Q and 2/5 trains run throughout the neighborhood. Whether you want to co-work in the many cafes of Cortelyou or get your shop on at the junction where the 2 and 5 trains terminate, commercial stores abound and Flatbush has you covered.

Kingsbridge, Bronx

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(Source: NYCDOT via Flickr Creative Commons)

Kingsbridge doesn’t get as much attention as its rich uncle up the block, Riverdale, but it’s catching up. Kingsbridge is a geographically and geologically interesting area because of its proximity to Van Cortlandt Park and its steep elevation. Basically, it’s a village on a hill. You get great views of the Hudson and the Palisades as well as some super steep blocks, many of which can be traversed by open-air public stairs. For outdoorsy types, Kingsbridge is a godsend for getting out of the city fast. You can easily zip across the GW Bridge to the Hudson River Palisades Park where you can take advantage of some of the best local hiking, biking and walking trails.

The neighborhood tends to stay pretty quiet because it’s only accessible via the 1 train. Terrifying as this may seem to all you Downtown-centric folks, it’s pretty sweet for people who work in Midtown. Living in Kingsbridge, however, means your NYC orientation will be to the north. South of 42nd Street is far, but Fordham Road has tons of amenities, retail shops and local vendors so you may not need to schlep into the city to take care of your shopping list. With a median rent of $1,550 for a 1-bedroom, Kingsbridge is probably the cheapest option on this list. People have been drawn out for the shopping opportunities around Fordham Road in Kingsbridge, so it’s only a matter of time before they come to stay.

>>See Apartments under $2,500/month in Kingsbridge

Yorkville, Manhattan

Under the radar neighborhoods nyc
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Now that the first phase of the Second Avenue subway is up and running, the far eastern reaches of the Upper East Side are no longer so remote. You can’t really call Yorkville under-the-radar since it’s always been a classic NYC neighborhood with tons of residential high rises and shopping options. In the past, though, its distance from the subway has made it less desirable, less busy and way less expensive than almost anywhere else in the borough.

The neighborhood, which is home to NYC’s Little Hungary, is still is a mix of hidden gems, like Carl Schurz Park greening up the East River, and the addition of Asphalt Green, one of the coolest sports facilities in the city. Even though a studio apartment will likely cost you more than $2,000/month, you are just a few blocks from the heart of NYC, which is easily accessible now on the new Second Avenue subway line. Sure, your friends might not choose Yorkville as the destination for their next happy hour, but First and Second Avenues are lined with great pubs and restaurants that make for a laid-back night out in the neighborhood.

Jamaica, Queens

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(Source: Joseph O. Holmes via Flickr Creative Commons)

Jamaica is the last stop on the Queens-bound F train, past the Long Island City high rises and the gorgeous homes of Forest Hills. Cool fact: The neighborhood is most likely named after the Algonquin word for beaver, Jameco. Who knew?!

Though long time considered a far-flung outer-borough flyover, Jamaica has been garnering more cool factor points and curb appeal recently. Jamaica is a transportation hub now, only 15 minutes from Midtown and home to the massive Jamaica Station on the LIRR and a connecting stop on the JFK AirTrain. With all of that accessibility, the restaurants and bar options are beginning to multiply.

Jamaica Avenue plays host to a farmer’s market, the central branch of the Queens Library and the historical Rufus King museum and park. It’s got a bustling commercial district with tons of affordable shopping opportunities so you won’t have to trek into the city to stock up on supplies. In terms of its residential vibe, think low-rise, unpretentious housing stock in brick apartment buildings and multi-families. The scale and price point of homes here make it great for un-fussy renters on a budget. The typical one-bedroom goes for around $1,892/month.

>>See Apartments under $2,500/month in Jamaica