Let’s talk about Long Island City. This unique neighborhood — once a sea of warehouses and factories — is now turning into one of the more sought-after areas of New York City for renters and buyers alike. But what is it like to live in LIC? And how much does it cost? If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the exciting and eccentric neighborhood in this guide to Long Island City.

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Watch our Long Island City episode of Know the Neighborhood to learn more about the neighborhood and hear from two residents.

Where is Long Island City?

Long Island City is located in the diverse and dynamic borough of Queens. The neighborhood sits directly across the East River from Midtown, Manhattan. It’s bordered by Astoria to the North, Sunnyside to the East, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn to the South. Served by the 7, E, F, G, M, N, R, and W trains, plus 15 bus lines, 74 CitiBike stations, and 3 different ferry ports, Long Island City is a nexus of transportation that’s perfect for commuters. It’s also conveniently located for travel beyond New York, with both LaGuardia and JFK airports just a quick trip away.

History of Long Island City

Long Island City has long been a bustling center of manufacturing. Large factories pumped out goods such as furniture, glass, oil, and much, much more throughout the late 1800’s and most of the 1900’s. Remnants of this all-important history can still be seen across the neighborhood in its distinctive warehouse buildings and general industrial aesthetic. 

More recently, however, LIC has become home to impressive cultural landmarks and artistic touchstones, such as the MoMA PS1 contemporary art museum and the film and television production hub of Silvercup Studios. It has also undergone significant development in order to become more amenable to everyday living. But what is it really like to live in this commercial-turned-residential nabe? Keep reading to find out!

Long Island City Homes Under $1M On StreetEasy Article continues below

Why is Long Island City a Great Place to Live?

We spoke to Alex Antigua, a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with Compass and a StreetEasy Expert, to get the 4-1-1 on LIC. He’s got extensive experience guiding both renters and buyers to find their dream Long Island City digs. 

So why does Antigua think Long Island City is such a happening place to live? In short, because “LIC has all the desired qualities a typical New Yorker wants: Nice skyscrapers, good food, good groceries, and easy transportation.” 

Antigua continues to put the desirability of the neighborhood into perspective, pointing out that Long Island City residents have unfettered access to just about everything that the rest of Queens, Brooklyn, and especially Manhattan have to offer: “I think people should look at living in LIC as just an extra train stop,” Antigua advises. “I personally see it just like any other [Manhattan] neighborhood… There’s not much of a distance difference than someone living in the Financial District and having dinner in SoHo.” 

Cars drive below as a subway pulls into Queensborough Plaza Station in Long Island City

Learning the Nabe: Dutch Kills vs. Hunter’s Point

So you know about the history of Long Island City, and why it’s such an appealing place to live. The next thing to figure out is where in the neighborhood you might want to put down roots. And to figure that out, you need to be familiar with the two main subsections of the area: Dutch Kills and Hunters Point. 

Hunters Point is probably what you’re imagining when you picture LIC. This section of the neighborhood is where you’ll find high rise apartment buildings, new condo developments, and the more famous LIC attractions (more on those below!). Hunter’s Point is also a cornucopia of commerce and cuisine. There are two main commercial hubs in Hunters Point: The cafes and bars surrounding the Vernon Blvd 7 station, and the museums and restaurants near Court Square.

Compared to Hunters Point, Dutch Kills is less populated by residential buildings — though that is rapidly changing with increased development efforts. Simply put, it’s an area in transition. When it comes to restaurants and other neighborhood diversions, the main commercial strips are around 36th avenue, bordering Astoria, and near Queensborough Plaza.

Because it retains more of the LIC’s industrial roots compared to its counterpart, Dutch Kills also tends to be more affordable than Hunters Point. As Antigua describes, he sees “lower taxes, lower price per square foot, and [increased] lending incentives by banks” in Dutch Kills compared to Hunters Point. But if you’re worried that this translates into lower quality homes, think again: Antigua assures that renters and buyers can find units “for similar quality apartment trade in the middle of LIC.” He also encourages prospective buyers to consider the potential increase of property value when browsing listings in Dutch Kills. “I have heard many of my buyers say that if they decide to upgrade, they would probably keep their apartment and rent as they purchase a second property to upgrade in.” A great strategy to consider when buying in the area! Speaking of…

Thinking about buying in Long Island City (or anywhere in NYC)? Chat with our complimentary, licensed Concierge to learn more about the buying process.

Buying in Long Island City

When it comes to available properties in Long Island City, condos are the name of the game. In fact, according to current StreetEasy® listings, nearly 90% of available homes in LIC are condos. To put that figure in perspective, around 50% of current Manhattan listings and only 30% of Queens listings are condos. 

Architecturally, these condos tend to pay homage to the industrial history of the neighborhood. Lawrence Hakimi, another licensed real estate agent at Compass and StreetEasy Expert, sees a lot of condo properties that are loft conversion developments with “higher ceilings, open windows and views.”

For his part, Antigua has seen an “equal mix of 1 and 2 bedroom buyers” during his time as a real estate agent working in Long Island City. When it comes to price, Antigua reports that his 1 bedroom buyers normally “have had budgets of up to 1 million… [and for] 2 bedrooms, buyers have a typical budget of $1.4 – 1.5 million.” The StreetEasy Data Dashboard confirms these approximate numbers, reporting the median asking price in the neighborhood was $1.3 million as of April 2024. 

Hakimi notes that generally speaking, “the carrying costs [in LIC] are relatively lower compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn as many of the developments are still under a (now expired) 421a tax abatement program.” 

Sweet! But what about LIC rentals?

Long Island City Apartments Under $3,500 On StreetEasy Article continues below

Renting in Long Island City

Antigua says that the typical Long Island City renter profile is “a single professional or recent grad looking for a 1 bedroom” – Though that’s not to say that families or groups of roommates wouldn’t be able to find their perfect rental. If you’re a fan of hyper-modern design and plenty of natural sunlight, you’re in luck! Antigua notes that all of his renters “seem to gravitate to one common architectural feature… all glass, floor-to-ceiling [windows.]”

There’s also a healthy appetite for amenity-rich buildings, of which there are plenty in LIC. According to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, the median asking rent in the neighborhood was $4,050 as of April 2024. While this is admittedly higher than the Queen’s median of $2,950, it’s important to note that this estimate is lower than comparable nearby trendy neighborhoods, such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where the median asking rent is around $4,300.

residents playing soccer on field in Hunters Point South Park in Long Island City
Residents play soccer on a sunny field in Hunters Point South Park.

Parks and Green Spaces

The neighborhood’s arguable crown jewel is Gantry Plaza State Park. Located along the East River waterfront, this massive green space spans 12 acres. It offers amazing skyline views, walking paths, multiple piers, and a mist fountain — plus the ability to partake in many outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and cycling. Gantry Plaza is also home to its own NYC Ferry station, a gorgeous public library (more on that below), and food trucks galore.There’s also the more recently opened Hunters Point South Park, which is impeccably maintained by the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. In addition to gorgeous waterfront and city views, this park boasts dedicated recreational areas such as basketball courts, playgrounds, and soccer fields.

What to Eat, Drink, and Do

In addition to being a wealth of real estate knowledge and advice, both Antigua and Hakimi  prove to be excellent LIC tour guides, highlighting a few of his favorite local spots just for StreetEasy readers. The top of both of their lists? Casa Enrique. According to Antigua, the Sopecitos De Chorizo is a “must try!” If you’re looking to impress a dinner date, Maiella is the way to go: Antigua highly recommends this “romantic, sophisticated spot” and highlights the Rigatoni Bolognese and the Cavatappi Scarola as menu standouts. For a more casual meal or mid-day snack, try Murray’s Cheese Bar or No Stress Cafe. For cocktails, you can’t go wrong with Dutchkills. Hakimi adds a few more of his go-to’s: “Blackstar Bakery, Sweetleaf Cafe, Sapps for sushi, Go Nonna… the list can go on!” 

Beyond Long Island City’s cool and contemporary culinary scene, there’s tons of opportunities for shopping and sightseeing. Antigua recommends Everyone Comics and Collectibles, especially for any millennial superhero-lover looking for a nostalgic blast from the past. 

We’ve already mentioned the MoMA PS1, which is housed inside of a former public school and which hosts many musical and artistic events throughout the year. Other must-see landmarks include the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign — leftover from when the neighborhood housed the soda bottling factory back in the 1940’s — as well as the architecturally stunning Hunters Point Library

Check out our StreetEasy Know the Neighborhood video guide to Long Island City for even more neighborhood recs from two longtime LIC locals!

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