Why Harlem is the perfect place for expats to call home

By Claire Leaden Published 18/04/2024

NYC is brimming with endless culture, food, and energy, and perhaps no neighborhood proves that quite as much as northern Manhattan’s Harlem.

Known for its rich history and diversity, you can find anything from intimate jazz clubs, to soul food, to artisan markets, to the most enchanting section of Central Park. And it only keeps climbing in popularity through the years, now becoming one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in NYC.

Luckily, our newest Cohabs house, Malcolm X 34, is located right in the heart of it! Complete with a rooftop, spacious common rooms, a huge backyard that was made for barbecues, and stunning custom murals by local artist Lesny JN Felix, the only thing that compliments it more is the neighborhood itself.

This guide will help you find the best things to do, see, and eat in the cultural mecca that is Harlem, Manhattan. Trust us, you’ll be applying for a room in no time…

What is the best area to live in Harlem?

Location is one of the most important parts of deciding where you’re going to live (hence why the above is a known real estate phrase), and you can’t go wrong anywhere in NYC. But to find the best atmosphere and accessibility for the best prices, Central Harlem is the place to be.

And though apartments are growing in price thanks to the trendiness of the neighborhood, a Cohabs living space will give you the best of both worlds — an amazing apartment in an ideal location, with a plug-in community of housemates and friends at an affordable price.

In addition to all of the amazing nearby restaurants, parks, and cultural institutions, we first have to talk about Central Harlem’s convenience to the rest of the city. You’re only a 20-minute walk to the Northern tip of Central Park — which contains the North Woods, one of the best parts of the Park in our humble opinion, which will make you feel like you’ve escaped the city with its forests and hiking trails. You’re also near some of Central Park’s hidden waterfalls!

As for the rest of the city, you’re only a 25-minute subway ride from Midtown on the 2 / 3 train three blocks away from the Cohabs house, and 35 minutes from Downtown Manhattan, so you can basically get anywhere you need to go in under an hour! Can’t beat that in NYC.

There’s also a nearby Metro North line, if you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway to one of New York’s quaint upstate towns.

What to do and where to eat

Our Cohabs coliving house, Malcolm X 34, is surrounded by everything you could need or want — from art to food to transportation. Here’s what a perfect day would look, just so you get an idea:

Wake up in your own room and head to our state-of-the-art gym, located right in the building. After, head to the coffee shop on the corner, Lenox Roasters, for a cup of joe and to sit outside to do some people watching. Or, head back to Cohabs and sit on the rooftop terrace to enjoy your morning drink.

Spend some time relaxing at the house, either on the roof or in one of the spacious common spaces, and then head to lunch at Sylvia’s only one block down, a soul food mecca that has been a Harlem mainstay since 1962. Indulge in their famous fried chicken or barbeque ribs, and then take a walk either to the nearby Marcus Garvey Park or a bit farther down to the top of Central Park.

Meander around the enjoy the views, and then head back uptown for a culture stop — perhaps the small but mighty National Museum of Jazz on 129th St.? After, head back to the house — only a 5-minute walk — to relax, and maybe throw some burgers on the grill in our lovely backyard.

Grab a drink at the cozy bar at the Red Rooster, celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s place where Barack Obama has frequented!, and then grab tickets to a show at NYC’s iconic Apollo Theater. The perfect day (and night!). As you can see, it’s all right there.

The fundamentals: safety, cost and more

Though there are some unfair assumptions about safety in Harlem, the truth is that it’s quite comparable to most other NYC neighborhoods, especially Central Harlem. The area is heavily populated with everyone from young professionals to families and is full of highly-rated restaurants, jazz clubs, museums, and local parks.

In fact, crime has dropped by huge margins over the past few decades, and Central Harlem currently has the same crime rate as other popular Manhattan neighborhoods like Midtown, the West Village and the Lowest East Side. There are large retailers from Whole Foods to Marshall’s that have been setting up shop and investing in the neighborhood, with 125th St. becoming a shopping destination.

Of course, all of this means that Harlem is growing in popularity, and what once was one of the most affordable parts of the city is now matching other trendier neighborhoods just out of reach. Luckily, thanks to Cohabs you can live there for as low as $1,650/month — a price you can’t even find a small studio for anymore.

And remember, that includes over 5,000 square feet of (shared) space, with tons of living perks!

And, Cohabs’ Harlem footprint will only keep expanding – with another 23 beds coming to the building right next door over the next six months, and then within the six months after that, they will be taking over a new 12,000 square foot building only a few short blocks away.

So, are you ready to make Harlem your new home?
Then apply for a Cohabs room for six months or longer and join an amazing international community!

Find out even more about our incredible Cohabs Malcolm X 34 house.

About the author Claire is a New York City writer, covering food, culture, business and so much more. She loves exploring new corners of the city (her favorite borough is Queens!), and in her spare time enjoys cooking, reading, and getting outdoors.