Big city living comes with a host of perks, including access to high-paying jobs, education, culture, entertainment, and more. There are downsides, obviously, associated with housing and living costs — however, even in huge and expensive urban hotspots like New York City, you can still find affordable housing options.
Queens is one of the safest and most diverse boroughs in NYC, containing many family-friendly neighborhoods where becoming a homeowner is not out of the realm of possibilities. For those interested in moving here, you should also know that you have plenty of self storage options in the area — and the monthly rate for a 10’x10’ storage unit in Queens stands at around $237.
With no further ado, here are the top five neighborhoods in Queens that combine affordability with great amenities and a generally agreeable lifestyle:
1. Astoria — Home Value $740K
Astoria recently ranked as one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods, according to TimeOut magazine — and for very good reasons. The neighborhood is a melting pot of cultures, with strong Greek and Middle Eastern presences, a thriving food scene and plenty of opportunities for art and entertainment, such as the Museum of the Moving Image, the Welling Court Mural Project, a veritable outdoor art gallery, or Q.E.D. Astoria.
In terms of housing options, Astoria offers the typical NYC mix of apartment co-ops, row houses and single-family homes. The local architecture can be quite spectacular, as a good portion of homes in the neighborhood are from the mid-19th century, and many of the buildings bear the marks of the Greek revival style, very popular in that period. Astoria also has beautiful examples of Victorian and Queen Anne architecture. Of course, modern and contemporary buildings are also present, with innovative projects increasing the coolness factor of the neighborhood even more.
Astoria is a great place for professionals but also young families. There are parks where you can spend time outdoors with the little ones, such as Astoria and Rainey Parks, as well as a variety of public, private and charter schools.
2. Jackson Heights — Home Value 690K
Jackson Heights retains much of its original residential character, which makes it a great option for families with children. Developed in the early years of the 20th century, the neighborhood is a short subway ride from Manhattan, but it still has a laid-back, relaxed vibe. Jackson Heights is one of the most culturally diverse areas in NYC, as residents cumulatively speak over 160 different languages. In other words, the neighborhood is a small universe in itself.
Housing options include apartments in multi-unit buildings that are usually co-ops but also row houses and single-family homes. The brick structures feature a mix of architectural styles, including Tudor, Mediterranean and Georgian Revival. Jackson Heights is very walkable and includes several parks, such as Travers Park or Planeview Park, plus multiple playgrounds. The local cuisine is obviously as diverse and varied as its residents, and you can sample pretty much everything, from South Asian and Indian foods to Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern or plain old American dishes.
3. Richmond Hill — Home Value $680K
Richmond Hill is a youthful, friendly neighborhood preferred by college students, professionals starting their careers, as well as young families. It’s the kind of place where you can find a food joint or a small independent store at literally every corner, which gives it not only extra charm but also makes it easier to live here.
Richmond Hills still keeps many of the single-family houses built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, featuring a variety of architectural styles including Queen Anne, Victorian, and Craftsman. Besides the available single-family homes, there are also apartment co-ops, many of them located in former large mansions divided into smaller housing units. Unlike many other areas of Queens, a good portion of the buildings in Richmond Hills are low rise, which gives it a distinctly suburban feel.
People of various ethnic communities — including Caribbean, Latin American, South Asian and Indian — reside here, making the area diverse and vibrant. Families can benefit from the multiple parks and playgrounds in the area, and there are excellent public schools, such as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis school.
4. Briarwood — Home Value $680K
Briarwood is a relatively quiet, low-key neighborhood, favored by many young professionals due to the reasonable housing costs and good subway connections. Families also find the area hospitable because of its walkability, strong sense of community and access to good quality education, including Robert A. Van Wyck middle school, Archbishop Molloy High School or the Public School 117.
Housing options include a wide variety of one- and two-bedroom co-ops, single-family homes and row houses, including relatively new ones built after demolishing old structures. Architecturally, the neighborhood is eclectic, with midcentury buildings being the most prominently featured.
5. Sunnyside — Home Value $680K
Established in the early 20th century, Sunnyside contains the planned community of Sunnyside Gardens, which is now a historic district. This neighborhood is greener than many others in Queens, with many single-family homes benefiting from decently sized (for NYC) backyards.
There are also several public parks and playgrounds, creating a distinctly suburban feel, even if it’s actually a densely populated urban area. Sunnyside also features revolutionary urban development projects that will create even more affordable housing. The neighborhood is very popular with families due to the opportunities for outdoor fun and the above-average public schools in the area.
*Note: Home values mentioned in this article reflect the Zillow Home Value Index for February 2022.