Trends & Data

New York City's Best Tipping Neighborhoods

Delivery service is a way of life in New York City. From groceries to fresh laundry, New Yorkers can get pretty much anything they want delivered straight to their doorstep – and they often do.

But how much are New Yorkers tipping for that convenience? While most people are fully accustomed to tipping at restaurants and bars (though that may be changing soon), how much does that delivery guy get for schlepping an order of vegetable curry up to your fifth floor walk-up? And with rents at historic highs across the city, does your neighborhood tell us anything about how much you tip?

We teamed up with Seamless, New York City’s leading online and mobile food ordering platform, to answer these questions and analyze what your rent says about your tipping tendencies on takeout orders.

Higher Rent = Lower Tips

Living in a more expensive neighborhood does not mean New Yorkers are more generous with tips. In fact, when we compared median asking rent and median tipping percentage across New York’s neighborhoods, we found that the higher a neighborhood’s rent, the less residents tend to tip. In pricy Upper Carnegie Hill, for example, the typical tip percentage was just 12.3 percent. In Greenpoint, where rent is much cheaper relative to Upper Carnegie Hill, the typical percentage was 15.3 percent – the highest in the city.

See below for a ranking of the top ten best tipping neighborhoods  based on typical tipping amount on Seamless.


Being Rent Burdened Translates to Lower Tips

Perhaps not surprisingly, the greater the rent burden in a particular neighborhood, the lower the tip amount as well. Using the rent-to-income ratio for each neighborhood, we found that less affordable neighborhoods tend to tip less. For example, renters in Brooklyn Heights have a relatively low rent burden of 30 percent (meaning 30 percent of the typical household’s annual income in 2014 was spent on rent there), yet the typical tip percentage was 14 percent.  In Elmhurst, where the rent-to-income ratio is 42 percent (considerably less affordable renters than Brooklyn Heights), the typical tip percentage was just 13.1 percent.

More Highlights from Our Study

  • Manhattan residents, who pay the highest median asking rent, tipped the least in comparison to Brooklyn and Queens.
  • Upper Carnegie Hill tipped the least of all New York City neighborhoods included in the analysis
  • 17 of the top 20 neighborhoods that tip the least are in Manhattan
  • Brooklyn neighborhoods came out on top as the city’s best tippers, with Greenpoint, Sunset Park and Bushwick typically tipping 15 percent or more.
  • Queens neighborhoods also made the list as best tippers, with Astoria, Long Island City, Ridgewood and Hunter Point renters typically paying tips between 14.2 percent and 14.5 percent on Seamless orders.

How We Did It

Median asking rent was calculated for each neighborhood using StreetEasy rent data and compared with median tipping percentage in 2014 using data provided by Seamless. Each neighborhood’s typical order amount is reported as a percentage difference from New York City’s median order total. The typical order total in Tribeca, for example, was 8.3 percent greater than the typical order in New York City, while in the East Village it was 2.8 percent less.

Jihee Kim

Jihee Kim is a data scientist at StreetEasy. She enjoys finding valuable insights from New York City’s housing data, one of the most unique real estate markets in the country, and hopes to turn on the light in real estate data for New Yorkers. Before joining the StreetEasy Research team, Jihee was a data analyst at Open Learning Initiatives (OLI). She received a master's degree in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis.

  • native new yorker

    What about Southwest Brooklyn, Eastern Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and SI?

    • KidCharlemagne420

      We’re talking about New York City.

      • fknnice

        “Situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which is a separate county of New York State. The five boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island – were consolidated into a single city in 1898”

        I think you might want to go back to school there “native new yorker”

        • Dirk

          I think your sarcasm detector is broken, “native New Yorker”.

    • Alan Durand Lightfeldt

      We included neighborhoods for which we had sufficient tipping data from Seamless. Southwest Brooklyn, Eastern Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island are very much part of New York City – but they also don’t use Seamless as much as other parts.

  • KidCharlemagne420

    You should also consider that Manhattan restaurants are likely far closer than Brooklyn restaurants. I definitely tip based on weather and distance.

  • ohnonononono

    I don’t see the strong link between rent burden and tip. The data on the map doesn’t match up with the data in the text at all… first of all, you say “Upper Carnegie Hill” is the worst tipping. There’s no “Upper Carnegie Hill” shown on the map, but “Carnegie Hill” is, and it is not shown on the map to be the worst tipping at all. It’s shown as 13.3%. It looks like the map isn’t showing data that’s as granular as the data referenced in the text, which is confusing.

    But if I look at what Streeteasy defines as “Upper Carnegie Hill,” I see a reason I’d assume it’s low tipping:

    What percentage of Seamless orders in that neighborhood are sent to non-residential addresses? I assume these were not filtered out? I think it’s safe to assume that a HUGE portion of the Seamless orders in that tiny little sliver (which Streeteasy seems to have gerrymandered to exclude the huge number of housing projects to the east) are actually going to people who are working at Mount Sinai and its affiliated medical offices. Not residents. And looking at the best tipping, they’re neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly residential. Is that really the stronger correlation? I think the rent burden thesis is a stretch, but I’d believe that the employees working at Mount Sinai order a lot of big, group Seamless orders from down the block and don’t tip well on a percentage basis.

    People ordering very large orders are going to tip less on a percentage basis than people ordering smaller orders. So areas with more offices, hospitals, and other large commercial development, where people will tend to order for big groups, are going to be lower tipping than residential areas. A wiser theory to me.

    • CaveJohnNYC

      Upper Carnegie Hill is Really East Harlem. They are taking the demographics of the pricing of the apartments from 96th street to 110th street along fifth avenue and Madison Avenue, making it Upper Carnegie Hill….But it is East Harlem….So, you are right, The Majority of that Stretch is Mount Sinai Hospital Center’s Buildings. Then there are the few co-ops and condos.

  • Matt

    “People ordering very large orders are going to tip less on a
    percentage basis than people ordering smaller orders. So areas with more
    offices, hospitals, and other large commercial development, where
    people will tend to order for big groups, are going to be lower tipping
    than residential areas. A wiser theory to me.”

    Precisely correct. If I order $40 worth of food I’m giving the guy the same tip as if I order $10 worth of food, especially if I am ordering the same amount of food from differently priced restaurants. Go liberal media go!

  • This isn’t table service at a restaurant, this is a guy hauling a bag to your apartment. When did tipping for deliveries become based on a percentage of the price of the order? I tip $3-$6 for deliveries when ordering for two people based on how far they traveled, what the weather is, and whether or not the delivery guy is somewhat nice. The guy bring a light bag up from the diner around the corner is gonna get $3, the guy who schlepps the food 12 blocks will get more. If it’s raining, I always give more.

  • Logic

    This isn’t a very constructive survey. Most people tip a flat rate, not a percentage. Expensive neighborhoods have more expensive restaurants, so the flat tip is going to be a lower percentage of the total order. Plus, on Seamless, you’re tipping prior to delivery, so you’re not tipping on quality of service.

    • blogenfreude

      Partly true – when wine store brings a bottle, I tip 4, when a bigger order, 5 or maybe more. And more and Christmas.

  • blogenfreude

    We live on the UWS, 70s. I always bump the suggested tip on Seamless, and I always tip the Fresh Direct guys and the wine and pet food delivery people. The Fresh Direct people tell me that they don’t always get a tip. All I can say is that I want the people who bring things to my front door to be happy.

  • CaveJohnNYC

    The better analysis may be of who is actually using Seamless…. In my opinion, the neighborhoods that are tops, appears to be “gentrifying” or newbie neighborhoods, where the residents don’t quite know who is on their neighborhood, that delivers. MOST New Yorkers, who are long term residents, have direct relationships, with their local delivery network…I personally, avoid those types of services, because I feel there is a built in service fee to the restaurant, that is hiking up the price to begin with…

  • aaron Martin

    Just tell the delivery guys your cheap as well as lazy. They don’t get payed much anyway they should understand. Tips are just half their pay.