Posted on May 16, 2013

by Jessica Kelley

So you just graduated from college (or high school or funemployment) and landed an awesome job in New York City.  You’re psyched!  Move over hometown, see-ya-later college digs, HELLOOOOO Big Apple!  You crack open craigslist and begin searching for apartments. West Village… that sounds cool, right?  Or maybe Midtown (it’s so shiny!) or, wait, what does “UWS” mean?  

Then it hits you: $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.  Per month.  None of these neighborhoods are nearly affordable on your entry-level desk job salary.  The fear of homelessness, inevitable drug abuse, and general loser-dom begins filling your head…

Take a deep breath.   You don’t need to live in your Aunt Sally’s basement in Queens.   And really, you should probably stop crying.  It’s not very dignified.  You’re an adult with [A JOB] EMPLOYMENT!  You can find an affordable home in Manhattan – I believe in you!

But here’s the thing: how will you pull it off?  In a nearly endless stream of neighborhoods, landlords, and subway maps, where will you live?

I present to you, the most fabulous up-and-coming neighborhood in Manhattan: South Harlem!

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Why South Harlem?  Harlem is an up-and-comer, just like you!  The spaces are super affordable.  Young, hip businesses are flourishing.  And it’s really easy for commuting!  Not convinced?  I’ll break it down for you:



Okay, maybe it was acceptable to eat store brand macaroni and cheese and kool aid before graduation, but you’re an adult now!  Pack up your ramen, throw away your keystone light, and check out these ever-so-slightly more mature eateries:


Amy Ruth’s – 116th at Lenox

To long-time Harlem residents, ‘food’ and ‘soul food’ are synonymous, which means amazing soul food is never far!  Amy Ruth’s, Red Rooster, and Sylvia’s are just three of the many fantastic soul food eateries in SoHa.  And hey, you’re 22 – you don’t need to worry about your cholesterol quite yet!

Lido – Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 117th

Looking for a more snazzy, impress-the-ladies experience?  Head to Lido!  With tasty Italian cuisine, a great wine list, and super attentive wait staff, what’s not to love?  Plus, you’re saving so much on rent – you can totally afford it!

                    Bier International – Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 113th

Thirsty?  Try Bier International, South Harlem’s own beer garden!  They have a super deep beer list (full of, you guessed it, international beers!) and sometimes their waiters wear costumes.  LOVE IT.

Want to drink at home?  Best Yet also features Beer World, which they boast is the “Largest Craft Beer Selection in Manhattan.”  The Winery on 116th is also a great place to grab a beverage, with a quirky bottle selection and very knowledgeable staff!  Time to expand that Franzia and Pabst Blue Ribbon collection – you’re a grown-up now!


Freshman 15 hit you?  Staring down at that beer gut while waiting for Facebook to load?  Chances are, your new job comes with a new, business casual wardrobe and let me tell you something – business casual ain’t easy on the figure.  Here are a few South Harlem workout hot spots to get you into fighting shape for your first day!

Land Yoga - Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 113th

Land Yoga is a beautiful, relaxing yoga studio on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, which offers classes, wellness workshops, yoga training, and overall feel-good vibes.  If pounding the pavement isn’t your idea of a good time, this is a great place to go!

Planet Fitness – 125th at Lenox

Want to work out on a budget?  Planet Fitness on 125th is a great option!  With super low membership fees (sometimes as low as $10 per month) and constant deals, this place will save you money while you get in shape!

Harlem Meer in Central Park

And of course, who can forget one of the most popular fitness options in all of New York City?  CENTRAL PARK!  South Harlem meets Central Park at 110th, where the Harlem Meer (a beautiful lake) is a popular jogging and fishing spot for Harlemites.  Who can’t resist that natural beauty?


I know eating cold pizza as you groggily walk to morning class, ten minutes late, cut it as your on-campus commute.  BUT, New Yorkers have their own special mode of transportation – the subway – and it’s no joke!  Here’s why Harlem is an amazing starting point to your morning commute:

2/3 Subway Trains Rock!

The 2/3 Subway Line is one of the most consistent and speedy subway lines in New York.  This train line runs right down the middle of South Harlem, and takes you quickly to Times Square, Penn Station, 14th, and beyond.  South Harlem enjoys three 2/3 stations, meaning you won’t have to walk more than a block or two when it’s freezing in the NYC winter!  Yay!

Tears of Joy…

If anything in New York is truly magical, it’s the A express between 125th and 59th.  Grab the A in South Harlem, and you can ride to the bottom of Central Park in less than 10 minutes!  No other neighborhood has such a long express line, which really cuts your commute time.  Living near the 125th A is a huge perk!

Like Baseball?  Or Zoos?  Or Botanical Gardens?  South Harlemites have easy access to B and D trains, which will take you right up to many fabulous Bronx attractions!  If you’re looking to go farther North, there is also a Metro North station at 125th, which goes to Westchester and Connecticut.  Seriously, I couldn’t make your commute any easier if I was a civil engineer!

So there you have it.  Walk your newly-employed self up to Harlem and take a look around!  If I haven’t already convinced you that this is the perfect place for new New Yorkers on a budget, a short walk around the neighborhood should do it!