6 NYC neighborhoods where you don't feel like you're in the city

The nautical vibe of City Island in the Bronx makes it seem very different from NYC.

Shinya Suzuki/Flickr 

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One of the fascinating aspects of living in New York City is that there are parts of it where you don't feel like you are in the city at all.

There are NYC neighborhoods that feel worlds apart from the city's crowded streets, thanks to their traditional architecture or water views—yet are within a subway, or in the case of Staten Island, a ferry ride away from the heart of the city.

Sound appealing? Here's Brick Underground's list of the six city neighborhoods that don't really feel like they are in city, the housing you can expect to find, and what the commuting options are. 

1. Todt Hill, Staten Island

Neighborhood boundaries: Mainly Todt Hill Road, Interstate 278, and Richmond Road 
Median sales price: $885,000
Median rent: $2,500 

Living: Pronounced “Tote,” the hilly enclave of Todt Hill is one of the most expensive and exclusive neighborhoods on Staten Island, thanks to its many million-dollar-plus homes—and its views. Todt Hill is both the tallest natural point in all five boroughs and the highest elevation on the East Coast from Florida to Cape Cod. You’ll find quiet, tree-lined streets, and houses with backyard pools.

(While it's typically peaceful, the alleged boss of the Gambino crime family was fatally shot outside his Hilltop Terrace home earlier this month.) 

Todt Hill’s sales inventory is eclectic, to say the least. You’ll find fairly conventional houses like this six bedroom, two bath with a detached garage built in 1920 for $578,000 as well as stately mansions, like this palatial five-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial with an in-ground pool for $2,695,000. 

Rentals are a bit harder to come by, and they’re typically in multi-family homes, like this two bedroom, one bath for $1,950 that's under renovation. The most-expensive rental on Trulia is this three bedroom, two bath with a washer and dryer for $2,600.

Transportation: A car might be the most convenient mode of transportation for Todt Hill residents as Richmond Road is the closest place to catch an MTA bus. The nearest Staten Island Railway stations are Grasmere, Old Town, and Dongan Hills, which will get you to the ferry’s St. George Terminal within 10-14 minutes. From there, a free Staten Island Ferry ride gets you to Lower Manhattan in 25 minutes. 

2. City Island, Bronx

Neighborhood boundaries: Long Island Sound, Pelham Bay, and Eastchester Bay
Median sales price: $387,500
Median rent: $2,000

Living: This island is less than half a square mile and about an hour from Manhattan—but feels much farther thanks to it's fishing village-like feel. It's a fun place to visit, thanks to its seafood restaurants, and many are open year-round. There are also a bunch of yacht clubs and marinas, and the island is home Columbia University's and Fordham University's sailing teams, and the City Island Nautical Museum. Fun fact: The native City Islanders are known as “clamdiggers,” while those not born and bred there are called “musselsuckers.” 

The housing stock, which consists mostly of single-family houses and condos, is fairly limited on City Island, and there’s just 16 currently listed on StreetEasy. On the low end is this one-bedroom, fixer-upper for $239,021, while on the high end there's this three-bedroom, three-bath condo in a gated, waterfront complex with views of Long Island Sound for $1,098,000. 

There are 13 City Island rentals currently listed on Trulia, and the most expensive is a one bedroom for $2,200 that can easily be a two-bedroom thanks to pocket doors in the living room. It also has a wraparound porch, Jacuzzi tub, and off-street parking.

Transportation: Serving the area are the BxM8 express bus and Bx29 local bus, which you can take to Pelham Bay Park to grab the 6 train. 

3. Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Neighborhood boundaries: Coney Island Avenue to Ocean Avenue, and Avenue H to Prospect Park 
Median sales price: $1,790,000 
Median rent: $1,944

Living: Here quiet, tree-lined streets are lined with large, historic Victorian homes with wraparound porches, turrets, and lawns—real, actual lawns!—that can make you feel like you are in the suburbs.

But it's not sleepy: Along the three main strips of Cortelyou Road, Newkirk Avenue, and Coney Island Avenue, you can find bars, restaurants, and stores, like The Farm on Adderley and Mimi's Humus.

Some of the dignified homes in Ditmas Park have been converted into multi-family dwellings—like this five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath Victorian on a corner lot with a backyard and two-car garage for $1,995,000. You can also find prewar co-ops, such as this top-floor one bedroom, one bath for $589,000. 

The median rent for a studio is $1,575, according to StreetEasy.

Transportation: You can catch the B or Q train at a few stations in the neighborhood, and the 2 and 5 are just on the outskirts for additional options.  

4. Roosevelt Island, Manhattan

Neighborhood boundaries: The East River on all sides 
Median sales price: $855,000
Median rent: $3,040

Living: Roosevelt Island is quiet, two-mile-long sliver in the East River between Queens and Manhattan, and it is considered part of Manhattan. While its Main Street will give you a more city-like feel than other nabes on this list, you won't find crowded sidewalks, supertall apartment buildings (or any towers, really, as most residential buildings are only 20 or so stories), and a handful of shops and restaurants. But what Roosevelt Island might lack in excitement and convenience for some New Yorkers is made up for by its ample greenspace, close-knit community, enviable views of the city proper, and colorful history—it once housed prisons and the nation’s first municipal lunatic asylum, part of which was converted into the Octagon luxury apartment complex in the northern part of the island. 

Recent additions are the Cornell Tech campus, which opened in 2017 and has a hotel and another institutional building currently under construction. Construction started on the eighth Riverwalk apartment building, which is slated to open in 2020. 

Apartments on Roosevelt Island are often spacious, ranging from updated condos and co-ops built in the mid-1970s, when the island turned residential (it was primarily home to hospitals since 1921), to luxury buildings built within the past decade. This modern studio for $430,000 is in Island House, one of the first residences on the island. Also in that complex is four-bedroom duplex for $1,700,000. 

This fifth-floor one-bedroom rental for $3,200 in Manhattan Park was recently renovated and offers views of the East River and Manhattan, while this two bedroom, two bath in the Octagon is $3,832 and has an in-unit washer and dryer.

Transportation: The F train is the only subway that connects to Roosevelt Island, but it's one stop from Manhattan or Queens, and gets you to major hubs in both within minutes. There’s also the iconic red Roosevelt Island tram that goes over the East River to 60th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan, and the NYC Ferry’s Astoria route stops on the island, too. Additionally, the Q102 bus will get you to Queens.  

5. Belle Harbor, Queens

Neighborhood boundaries: Beach 141st Street to the east, Beach 126th Street to the west, Beach Channel Drive along Jamaica Bay to the north, and the beach and Atlantic Ocean to the south
Median sales price: $997,000
Median rent: $2,825

Living: The biggest draw of this community is pretty obvious: the Atlantic Ocean, which is just a few blocks away from anywhere in this small, tight-knit community. Weekend street parking rules keep the crowds away, and as one resident writes on Trulia, it’s “the only place left in NYC where there are tons of kids playing in the street.” But proximity to the ocean has it's dangers too: Belle Harbor was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

Belle Harbor's streets are lined with standalone and multi-family houses, some of which are available for rent, though rental stock is scarce. This three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house with a big backyard is $3,900, while this small, two bedroom, one bath is $1,900, though it’s closer to the beach. 

This three-bedroom, three-bath one-family home for $1,240,000 is on a quiet block a few houses from the beach. This two-family house on the bay side is $928,000, and both units are three floors with three bedrooms and one and a half baths. 

Transportation: The nearest subway station is Rockaway Park at Beach 116th Street, which is served by the A and S. There are a few MTA bus routes, and the NYC Ferry’s Rockaway route is on the bay side on Beach 108th Street, and gets you to Pier 11/Wall Street in just about an hour.  

6. Marble Hill, Manhattan

Neighborhood boundaries: Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the west, the Harlem River to the south, Kingsbridge to the north and Bedford Park to the east. 
Median sales price: $924,500
Median rent: $2,250

Living: Though physically in the Bronx after a reroute of the Harlem River in 1895, Marble Hill is technically considered part of Manhattan and the borough’s northernmost neighborhood. Many of its streets, which are named after early Dutch settlers, curve around its namesake hill. 

This tiny enclave is mostly residential, but it’s just a quick walk across the Broadway Bridge to Inwood or to nearby Bronx neighborhoods where there’s lots of options for shopping and dining. Big-box shopping (Target/Marshall’s) and chain restaurants can be found at the River Plaza near the Major Deegan. 

Housing stock is a mix of freestanding houses, like Victorians, smaller Art Deco apartment buildings, townhouses, and a few high-rises, including the recently remodeled Promenade Apartments and NYCHA’s Marble Hill Houses. There are only a limited number of houses and apartments available for rent or sale right now.

But where else—in Manhattan no less—can you land a 1,300-square-foot rental with three bedrooms, two baths with Jacuzzi tubs and standing showers, a working fireplace, and backyard deck with grill for $2,700? 

This four-bedroom, two-bath standalone single-family house for $649,000 will start showing in April. It sits atop a craggy bit of exposed Marble Hill, has a renovated open kitchen, a working wood-burning fireplace, large deck, and backyard.

Transportation: The 1 local subway train is available at Marble Hill-225th Street. The Metro-North’s Hudson Line also stops nearby on West 225th Street, getting commuters to Grand Central Terminal in about 20 minutes. (Note: Neither station appears to be accessible, and there are a number of stairs.)