MONEY

Best big-city neighborhoods

What’s the best place to live in NYC? L.A.? Based on NeighborhoodScout.com data, city visits, and talks with locals, we named these top areas, listed by overall city population.

  • Park Slope, New York City

    Pros: Historic brownstones and proximity to 585-acre Prospect Park make this area a favorite of New Yorkers looking to escape Manhattan shoeboxes. The new Barclays Center arena is a close walk but still removed from the heart of the neighborhood.

    Crime rates are akin to those in the suburbs, and transport options include a 40-minute subway ride to Midtown Manhattan. Locals love the award-winning restaurants, food co-op, farmers’ markets, and homegrown bakeries and shops.

    “I could go weeks without leaving,” says Nancy Liao, founder of a pet-food business.

    Cons: Newbies may struggle to adjust to the lack of big-box retail or supermarkets. And the real estate market is brutal (this is New York City): Homes are the priciest on our list, though still lower than in many areas in Manhattan. –Pieter Van Noordenne<strong>n

    What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood and why? Send a photo of the area and tell us why you love it to<a href="mailto:bestplaces@cnnmoney.com" title=“”> bestplaces@cnnmoney.com or #mybestplaces and your top pick may be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney gallery.

  • Windsor Square, Phoenix

    Pros: Charming mid-century cottages are a hallmark of this neighborhood—in fact, Windsor Square hosts regular home tours to show them off.

    But that’s not all residents have to tout. The area has excellent schools, and Windsor Square’s small size, array of shopping and amenities, and convenient Metro stop mean locals can often leave the car at home, an unusual option in Phoenix.

    “Being able to walk to the explosion of new restaurants, the light rail, and a place to get my hair done is a great lifestyle,” says 48-year-old attorney Susan Myers.

    Cons: Many homes are on small lots and, for some, changes require approval from the city’s historic preservation board. –Kathy Shayna Shocket

    What’s your favorite Phoenix neighborhood and why? Send a photo of the area and tell us why you love it to bestplaces@cnnmoney.com or #mybestplaces and your top pick may be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney gallery.

  • Alamo Heights, San Antonio

    Pros: Five miles north of downtown, Alamo Heights offers a short commute and easy access to the city’s botanical gardens, newest mall, and a public golf course. And there’s plenty to do in the area itself, thanks to Olmos Basin Park and a slew of stores along Broadway Avenue.

    Officially it’s an incorporated city (advantage: lower taxes), but locals consider the area a regular San Antonio neighborhood. Alamo Heights is known as an “old money” enclave—and has the top-performing schools to match—but you can find a home for $250,000.

    Cons: Public transit options are few. The housing stock is largely single-family homes. –Vanessa Richardson

    What’s your favorite San Antonio neighborhood and why? Send a photo of the area and tell us why you love it to bestplaces@cnnmoney.com or #mybestplaces and your top pick may be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney gallery.

  • Pacific Beach, San Diego

    Pros: Pacific Beach has a rep as a nightlife-packed post-collegiate party spot. Lately, however, the area has started to grow up.

    Young professionals are flocking for the quality of life and relatively affordable homes (in nearby La Jolla, a typical home costs about $1million). The schools are another draw; Sessions Elementary and Pacific Beach Middle School are among the best in the city.

    Courtney Ludwin, 36, moved to Pacific Beach 10 years ago and “fell in love with the laid-back beach community,” he says. Last year he and his wife and twin 3-year-old boys bought a house where they can walk to restaurants and the beach. “I’m fortunate to live in a place where most people come to vacation,” he says.

    Cons: The least diverse on our list. Weekend crowds can mean lines and battles for parking. –S.M.

    What’s your favorite San Diego neighborhood and why? Send a photo of the area and tell us why you love it to bestplaces@cnnmoney.com or #mybestplaces and your top pick may be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney gallery.

  • Lakewood, Dallas

    Pros: The key to Lakewood is in the name. During the day, the action is on the bike/walk trails circling White Rock Lake, and in the sprawling parks and gardens. Later, people head into town for shopping and dining, maybe capped with a movie at the Art Deco-style Lakewood Theater.

    One of the city’s older neighborhoods, Lakewood offers a mix of homes, including stately Tudors. While not cheap, real estate prices are reasonable enough to attract young professionals and families.

    Another plus: a very low crime rate.

    Cons: Public transit options aren’t plentiful. The grade schools are well regarded, but the other schools are less so. –V.R.

    What’s your favorite Dallas neighborhood and why? Send a photo of the area and tell us why you love it to bestplaces@cnnmoney.com or #mybestplaces and your top pick may be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney gallery.

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