Check out this cool video that focusses on a NYC Fed Ex driver. It beautifully illustrates the crowded nature of NYC, how long it can take to drive several blocks not to mention how long it can take to get a parcel up 60 floors. And I guess that’s what you would expect in a city with 8.5 million residents and in excess of 53 Million visitors a year. It’s going to be busy and crowded but it is getting cramped as well as crowded?
It would be easy to think it is when you read that the vacancy rate for Manhattan rentals is down to 1% and with the constant news of new multi, multi partment blocks going up indicating building densities. Basically is NYC getting close to bulging at the seams?
Well no. A recent Study of New York city Density, shows that compared to 1970 the typical New Yorker lives with a lower level of density, and that growth in population since 1980 has concentrated in lower density areas, basically in the outer boroughs not Manhattan. The politics of NYC rental prices are such that as rents in Manhattan go up, developers and renters move out to the outer boroughs. But there are definite advantages to living in the most crowded parts of Manhattan. There’s almost certainly a shorter commute and you have an unprecented range and depth of retail choices.
So native New Yorkers weigh up the relativities of what they want to pay for rent against a less built up environment in outer boroughs and make their choice. But what about visitors, are their choices the same? It’s certainly cheaper to get a hotel bed or an airbnb short term rental in the outer boroughs and you should also consider Jersey City, 5 mins by PATH train from Lower Manhattan and cheaper than most of NYC. Whatever accommodation choice you make find out before you make your booking how close you will be to a convenient subway station so you have the choice of quick, cheap travel to wherever you want to go.
If regular New Yorkers can assess where to live based on density is there a time of the year when you, as a tourist will deal with less crowds? Basically no, though Christmas and New Year are super crowded even though that is just a 10 day period. But NYC doesn’t really have an ‘off’ tourist season. The big variable is actually weather. Because NYC’s spring an autumn are so pleasant compared to summer and winter there’s more people visiting at those times. Summer, when hot humid conditions prevail, is the closest to an ‘off’ season that NYC has.
But inescapably NYC is a big, crowded city and it is undoubtedly a bit of a shock to the system if you come from a quieter environment. Native New Yorkers learn to live with its downside and upside. If you are a tourist, the best advice is not to try and do everything. You can’t. Focus on going to and experiencing those places and meeting those people who interest you the most.