The Upper West Side, New York: Should You Live There?

The Upper West Side, New York: It’s without a doubt one of the most popular neighborhoods in New York City. Thing is, what makes it so appealing for some people makes it totally unappealing to others. Read on to see if the UWS is for you.

The Upper West Side, New York is considered one of the most popular neighborhoods in NYC. While it has undeniable appeal, some of the characteristics that make it awesome for some people may make it unbearable for others. If you’re thinking about moving to the Upper West Side, read this guide first. Here, we walk you through the most notable attributes of the Upper West Side.

Dog in the sun in Central Park

Image Source: Flickr/Tony Fischer

Lots of Parks

Whether you’re a road runner, a parent of little ones, or someone who needs to rest the old eyes on a little bit of green every once in a while, you’ll be thrilled with the fact that by living on the Upper West Side, you’ll be right next to not one, but two major parks: Central Park and Riverside Park. Both parks are perfect for blading, biking, and boating (Central Park) or boat watching (at the 79th Street Boat Basin). Arts festivals and musical events enliven summer days and nights, and there are plenty of open spaces and dog runs for your four-legged friends to roam.

Kids on scooters in Riverside Park

Image Source: Flickr/Ed Yourdon

Suburban-Urban Feel for Families

Some people — OK, quite a few people — consider the Upper West Side a suburb within the city. There are kids, families, and dogs everywhere. While those are fighting words for some, for others, it’s a really good thing. Many people with children tend to love the Westchester vibe they can experience here in the heart of the city. Many of the kids raised on the Upper West Side attend one of the area’s top private schools, and there are music and art spaces, gyms, boutiques, and party spaces galore geared toward families.

Active Bar and Restaurant Scene

The idea of people using their stoves for shoe storage may just be a sitcom joke for some, but in NYC, it’s often a fact of life. Small kitchens and busy lifestyles often discourage people from cooking, so many people order takeout or eat out. The Upper West Side, New York is tailor-made for this lifestyle, with a bar seemingly on every corner, restaurants on top of restaurants, and corner stores and wine shops that deliver everything from orange juice to quinoa. The downside is that the best bars and restaurants that appeal to younger crowds tend to be located downtown.

The Ansonia, Upper West Side

Image Source: Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman

Beautiful, Diverse (and EXPENSIVE) Housing Stock

If you’re into brownstones loaded with vintage charm, the Upper West Side’s got those to spare. If you prefer sleek doormen buildings with concierges, gyms, and every possible amenity you could hope for, the Upper West Side’s got those as well. Low-rises, high-rises, prewar tenement buildings, gazillion-dollar single-family modern townhouses: Every type of housing stock is represented here. Classic buildings like the Italian Renaissance Revival beauty the Apthorp, along with and those stars of the big screen, the Dakota and the Ansonia, command top dollar. In fact, even though there are deals to be found, the high-priced housing stock can be an obstacle for people trying to get into the area.

Awesome Cultural Institutions Everywhere You Look

From the Museum of Natural History to the New York Historical Society to Lincoln Center, there’s always something to get your creative or philosophical juices flowing on the Upper West Side. Schools like the Juilliard School and Columbia University draw the best and brightest from all over the world to their doors. The downside to this is that these institutions draw large crowds, often making it difficult for residents to get around.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Fabio Sola Penna

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