Is New York City safe for new travelers?
The United States is seen by many as one of the best countries in the world (though there are those that make a great case for other countries).
As the largest and most influential city in America and visitors here can feel as though they are moving from country to country as they explore its streets.
In general, however, the U.S. can be considered similar to other English-speaking countries such as Australia in terms of culture, so visitors know what to expect.
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Is NYC safe?
The big question though, that most American people will bring up, is the fact that New York used to be the proverbial murder capital north of Mexico.
It was a real hell-hole in the 70s, notoriously so. But is it still the same today and traveling here as a tourist, what do you need to look out for? Let’s find out below!
How safe is New York?
New York is a safe city to visit. It may have a reputation for crime – of all kinds – but New York is about as safe as any other megalopolis city in the Western world.
NYC has gentrified the main visiting areas, especially Manhattan. This could mean that in some of the sketchy areas at night there are more assaults; it can also mean that pickpockets and petty thieves are lurking in touristy areas.
That’s how these big cities work and there are certain things to have in mind when traveling to them, especially if you’re used to smaller towns or live in the country.
Whether you’re visiting as a tourist or you’re thinking of living in New York like a local, you’ll find that your experience could be a world apart from others.
New York crime rate
Let’s look at some useful statistics on New York City:
- There were 2,245 murders in New York City in 1990, and only 311 in 2019.
- There were a total of 430,460 recorded crimes in New York City back in 1993, which dropped every year down to a little over 1,000 in 2015.
- Although crime went up during the pandemic, the lifting of masks and seating bans means that crime is dropping again.
- Hate crimes towards Asian Americans rose in 2021 by 400%, due to the pandemic.
- The worst periods for crime in New York’s history was during the great depression and in the early 1990s.
Is NYC safe for tourists?
Yes, NYC is safe for tourists and in a recent study of the 15 safest large cities in the United States (with a population over 300,000), NYC came up in the top five.
The Big Apple is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. However, there are affordable housing options in nearby states such as New Jersey, or even spots in the boroughs such as Staten Island and the Bronx.
There’s an extensive underground system as well as commuter trains, meaning you could easily visit any of the 5 boroughs whilst living on either side of the river.
The possibilities are endless, but we’ll be tackling the city itself. Before we get into it we recommend you check out this guided walking tour that will give you access to a local guide who can answer many questions on safety in New York City.
Is NYC safe at night?
Yes, NYC is safe at night. But in the evening, exercise caution (or avoid) the Flatbush area, Brighton Beach (the Russian quarter) and the surrounding areas.
You can stick to the safest areas instead which are Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope. There’s no reason why you’d need to visit New York’s outskirts as there’s not much going on there.
Also, we suggest that you avoid booking accommodation in lesser-known neighborhoods, and while out, conceal any belongings (such as flashy jewelry) that could attract the attention of petty thieves or other criminals.
If you’ll be traveling soon, see these affordable accommodation options in Manhattan if you want to be close to the action without breaking the bank.
Is it safe to be alone in New York?
Yes, it is. Exercise extra caution in the most crowded areas and avoid the poorer neighborhoods of the city and the outskirts of the tourist zones.
Apart from this, there’s no reason to be worried about your safety in New York as a solo traveler. In case you might need help, don’t walk alone in the dark or deserted streets, and make sure there are always people around you.
Try your best not to look lost while exploring the city at night and even if you’re not sure where you’re going, pretend that you are. If you need to use a taxi, make sure to use only the authorized yellow or green ones.
You’ll need some comfy walking shoes if you’re going to be walking around all day. The last thing you want is to return home with huge blisters on your feet.
Is New York safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, New York is safe for solo female travelers too, as long as you’re vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Don’t walk late at night by yourself around peripheral districts that are not frequented by tourists and stick to popular areas of the city.
Even though many areas in New York have changed their reputation (for the better) over the last few years, still avoid visiting the neighborhoods of Harlem (join a group tour instead), Flatbush, Brighton Beach and the Bronx while alone.
Where to stay in New York
Considering New York’s exorbitant real estate prices, it’s no wonder that budget hotels are so scarce.
If you want to spend as little as possible on your accommodation in New York and you don’t mind the commute, then we would suggest staying in New Jersey.
For example, why not try Red Roof Inn for a night or two? It’s very popular with those who want to be close to New York and restaurants.
Just across the Hudson River, towns such as Secaucus, NJ have affordable rooms for those with tight budgets.
For those looking at their first trip to New York City, we suggest finding a decently priced hotel in Midtown such as the Executive Hotel Le Soleil (around the corner from Bryant Park and the Empire State Building).
According to 22Places;
“The Upper East Side is the right area to stay for you if you like things a little quieter, you want to go for a run in Central Park in the morning, and you plan to explore the museums of New York. Although the Upper East Side has changed a bit over the years, people still think of it as the neighborhood of the rich and beautiful, with expensive clothes and tiny dogs in handbags. Chelsea and Greenwich Village are the right places to stay for you if you’ve been to New York before, have already checked out the main sights, and now want to immerse yourself deeper into New York life. But they’re also great as an alternative if you don’t want to stay in tourist areas, but would rather experience an authentic slice of New York life.”
Areas to avoid in New York
There are areas considered dangerous in New York for different reasons:
- Brownsville, for drug-related crimes and a high number of homicides.
- Midtown is a tourist area of the city and that’s where muggers and pickpockets hang around.
- Hunts Point and Mott Haven in The Bronx for high crime rates and drugs.
- East Harlem for gang activity, drugs and violent crimes.
Some streets in the downtown area can be unsafe when it comes to petty crimes. As a tourist, it is best to be vigilant. While you’re exploring New York, protect your belongings with a money stash so you can walk around with confidence.
Wherever you go in the city you have to remember that visitors to NYC are constantly under the protection of the city’s police force. If you do happen to find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, always remember to dial 9-1-1.
The emergency services in New York are incredible, always helpful, and never ignore calls. Make sure you only use the number in an emergency situation.
New York: Travel safety tips
See some of our best New York City safety tips below:
- Carry cash and valuables in a front or inside pocket and consider if you need to carry a purse or bag.
- When carrying expensive equipment such as cameras or smartphones in person you can use a PacSafe backpack to store your things away.
- Do not carry a weapon for self-defense, as introducing a weapon can increase the severity of an attack.
- If you’re considering doing one of the many hikes near NYC or traveling outside the city, be sure to carry the necessary provisions.
- Never let your drink out of your sight and don’t sample drinks from anyone – even friends or acquaintances.
- Alcohol and “date rape” drugs are used in many sexual assaults – if you are going to drink, do so responsibly and be with trusted friends so you can look out for each other.
- See more safety tips on preventing drug-facilitated sexual assaults.
- If you decide to rent a car while here, when driving, keep all the doors locked, even when you are inside the car, and park in well-lit areas.
- If you are traveling solo to NYC and/or on a budget, be sure to consider one of the many Top Rated Hostels for a discounted stay.
- Always have a cell phone along with you, if you have one.
- Stay alert, stand tall and be confident, if an attacker targets someone, they’re most likely scared.
Overall, other than the universal travel safety rules mentioned throughout this article, you won’t need to abide by any specific rules to stay safe here.
To put your mind at rest, New York has hardly any crime towards tourists, so imagine yourself at your own place of personal safety at home.
Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home, and don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
Best time to visit New York
The best time to visit New York City in terms of climate is from April to June when the weather is warm and pleasant but the tourist crowds are not overwhelming.
The cheapest time to visit New York is on weekends from mid-January to the end of February. This is because the climate ain’t as good, but the holiday rush is over.
We visited during the holidays and it was a winter wonderland, it actually snowed! It felt like Home Alone 2.
Check out this awe-inspiring list of the most Instagrammable places in NYC to capture some of the city’s best views for your photo album.
Here are some key events to sway your opinion:
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March)
- Easter Parade (April)
- Burt’s Bees Earth Day (April)
- Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit (May)
- Haunted Halloween Carnival (October)
- New York City Marathon (November)
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (November)
- Lighting at Rockefeller Center (November)
Before you arrive, be sure to pick up your New York City Pass to get instant access to a selection of the city’s best tourist attractions during your stay.
Is New York safe? Final words
Overall, there is nothing to worry about when traveling to The Big Apple.
When compared to other sizable cities around the world, New York is a very safe city with the infrastructure to hold a community together instead of ripping it apart.
New York is a champion that should be heralded as award-winningly safe.
What do you think? Don’t hesitate to book a trip to New York today and see our sustainable travel tips to ensure your trip has a positive environmental impact.
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