header image of are new yorkers neighborly

Are New Yorkers neighborly? We truly are — despite what outsiders might think.

New Yorkers have a reputation for being a generally unfriendly bunch. New York City consistently tops the list of cities with the rudest residents (and also the most stylish — but we digress).

To uncover how much truth there is in this perception, we asked a representative set of New Yorkers across the five boroughs a few simple questions to figure out how neighborly they are or aren’t. Then we compared that to what our sister brand, Zillow, found among residents across the entire U.S.

Turns out that the stereotype of the grumpy New Yorker doesn’t prove true among those who share buildings and neighborhoods — and especially not among New Yorkers who own their homes.

Actually, New Yorkers Are Quite Neighborly

Nearly a third (31%) of NYC homeowners say they’re “close friends” with some of their neighbors, while another 53% say they’re at least cordial with them — that is, they stop to chat occasionally outside their apartments.

The same figures for homeowners across the nation are a bit lower: 27% say they’re close friends with their neighbors, while 51% have casual conversations with them. So it looks as if New York homeowners are at least as neighborly as those elsewhere, if not a little more.

Even Renters Are Friendly With One Another

Now granted, New York is a city of renters — two thirds of the city’s residents do not own their homes. But even this group seems to be more neighborly than renters nationwide.

Of NYC renters who have lived in their homes for at least a year, nearly 1 in 4 (24%) would say they’re close friends with their neighbors. Only 21% of national tenured renters would say the same thing.

Perhaps New Yorkers’ relatively high neighborliness is due to the close quarters so many of us live in. Whether we like it or not, New Yorkers do our laundry together, ride the elevators and subways together, get our mail together, and squeeze by one another in narrow staircases and hallways.

It seems likely that all these opportunities for connection and interaction add up, making it easier for New Yorkers to bond with our neighbors than it is for Americans living elsewhere.

image of nyc friendly neighbors rankings

But Yes, Grouches Do Exist in New York

When it comes to residents who flat-out ignore their neighbors, we’d be lying if we said those folks didn’t also exist in New York.

For NYC renters living in their apartments for more than a year, 1 in 10 reported having zero interaction with their neighbors — but that’s still fewer than the rest of the U.S., where 14% of tenured renters avoid interacting with their neighbors.

Renters who are new to a building are even less likely to strike up a conversation with their neighbors. Of renters who have lived in their home for less than a year, 16% don’t have any interaction with their neighbors, compared to 20% of the same group nationwide.

For homeowners — in NYC and the US — the numbers dip. Just 3% of New York City’s homeowners cite having no interaction with their neighbors, compared to five percent of homeowners across the U.S.

Bigger Buildings Make Neighbors Less Likely to Become Friends

For NYC renters, the size of their building doesn’t play a major role in how likely they are to interact with their neighbors. However, for homeowners, it does factor into a person’s overall neighborliness.

Homeowners in New York City who live in apartment buildings with 10 or more units tend to form fewer bonds with their neighbors compared to those who live in smaller buildings and townhouses. Some 30 percent of city homeowners who live in buildings with 10 or more units described their neighbors as close friends, compared with 60 percent of homeowners in single-family homes or townhouses.

New Yorkers get a bad rap, but the numbers don’t lie. We’re a neighborly city, so don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with your neighbor next time you encounter them folding socks in the laundry room. You never know where it might lead.

How We Did It

StreetEasy partnered with independent market research firm YouGov to conduct a representative survey that was fielded online over summer 2018. The survey gathered information from 2,550 residents in all five boroughs. Data was collected through a general market sampling of recent renters, who rented in the past 12 months; inactive renters, who are currently renting and did not move in the past 12 months; buyers and sellers who completed a transaction in NYC in the past 12 months; and homeowners who currently own and did not move in the past 12 months.

Quotas based on the U.S. Census were set for age, gender, and education. The data was then weighted to known U.S. Census estimates on age, gender, race and education, to ensure that respondents were representative of the New York City population. The results then underwent substantial internal analysis and review by researchers and economists at Zillow Group and StreetEasy. All national buyer figures cited are based on data from the 2018 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, whose surveys were conducted the same way as StreetEasy’s to ensure comparability.

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.