How Does Growing up in NYC Differ Than on Long Island?

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New York City has five boroughs and is quite large. Part of the area includes Long Island, which is joined to the mainland by the Bronx, one of those five boroughs.

When you “grow up in New York City,” it can mean that you grew up in any of the five boroughs, but most people will tell you that there’s a big difference between living in Manhattan and living in one of the boroughs.

This article will take a look at how growing up in Manhattan is different than growing up on Long Island.

How Does Growing up in NYC Differ Than on Long Island?

There are actually numerous ways that growing up in the city of Manhattan is different from growing up on Long Island. The main difference is the fact that New York City (Manhattan) is as “city” as you can get. It is crowded, noisy, fast-paced, and most people live in high-rise apartments or condos. By contrast, Long Island is quiet, slow-paced, and has lots of detached homes.

While Long Island has a lot of people just the same as Manhattan does, the fact that most people live in detached homes with backyards and swimming pools makes it feel less crowded. To be sure, the two cities have totally different “feels,” which means that you’ll feel as though you’re in a large city if you live in Manhattan and more as though you’re in the suburbs while in Long Island.

Before going any further, let’s take a look at the recent numbers when it comes to the five boroughs. Here is the population for each as of the year 2021:

  • Bronx: 1.4 million
  • Brooklyn (Kings County): 2.6 million
  • Manhattan (New York County): 1.5 million
  • Queens: 2.3 million
  • Staten Island (Richmond County): app. 500,000

Long Island actually has four counties — Kings, Queens, Suffolk, and Nassau — but most of the residents live in Suffolk and Nassau. In fact, it is these two counties that most people automatically think of when they think about Long Island.

Long Island is technically part of the borough of the Bronx and consists of numerous towns, villages, hamlets, and unincorporated communities.

Some Other Differences and Similarities

Let’s now take a look at the public transportation system. Growing up in Manhattan, you can always take one of the dozens of subway lines, which are open 24/7, to get where you need to go. The cost is reasonable and the bus system is excellent as well. In fact, in Manhattan, fewer than half of the citizens have a car and kids start using the subway around middle school.

If you are raised in Long Island, you might as well get used to the fact that you’ll need a driver’s license some day. People take their cars everywhere and the traffic can be tough to deal with, especially if you’re like most people and drive into Manhattan to go to work. Kids whose parents don’t have cars, which is rare, simply don’t have a way to get where they wish to go.

Kids in Manhattan also have a different experience when it comes to schooling and after-school activities. Schools in Manhattan include gifted and talented schools, specialized schools of numerous types, magnet schools, and others. This means that kids can go to the school that best suits their educational needs, as well as find tons of after-school activities at these same facilities.

Long Island kids, on the other hand, usually go to the school that’s located closest to their home, which may or may not offer the educational advantages they seek. The same can be said for after-school activities, which almost always come from the school they attend during the day. This doesn’t mean that the schools aren’t good, however. Both cities have excellent school systems overall.

And another factor to consider for kids who grow up in Long Island vs. Manhattan is this: in Long Island, kids tend to participate in activities with the same kids they go to school with, which allows for more bonding and close friendships. Manhattan kids still make a lot of friends but those friends might not all attend the same school they do.

What About the Cost of Living?

In both Manhattan and Long Island, the cost of living is high. Regardless of where you grow up, your parents will essentially need to make a six-figure salary in order to afford to live there. Long Island is actually one of the most expensive areas per capita in the entire country — even higher than Manhattan. Nevertheless, you get a lot in return for that money.

If you’re trying to decide whether to raise kids in Long Island or Manhattan, the biggest factor to take into consideration is whether they should be raised in a fast-paced city environment or a more laid-back suburban environment. There are even more parks, open space, big malls, parking spaces, and privacy in Long Island, but conveniences in Manhattan are a tad better.


The question of whether to raise kids in Manhattan or Long Island boils down to whether you want them raised in the city or in a more country-like environment. The rest of the features of each city, including the cost of living and the amenities, simply might not matter to you as much as this does.

There’s no study that proves that kids who grow up in suburbia are any better or worse off than kids who grow up in the city. This means that you have to take your child’s personality and your own preferences into consideration before making a final decision.


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