New York Neighborhoods by Proximity to Manhattan

Since I am moving to NYC in a few months, I’ve begun researching places to live. I thought I would share my findings so far.

Harlem

20 minutes by bus
2 bedroom for $1,800: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/8700798/2-bedroom-central-harlem-new-york-ny
This neighborhood is ranked highly for public transportation (multiple and frequent subway lines), a strong community feel, and relatively low cost of living (compared to many other Manhattan locations). However, it is not a very quiet neighborhood and it can be unsafe at night. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/harlem-manhattan-new-york-city-new-york)

East Harlem

20 minutes by subway. This is the easiest commute because East Harlem because it is on the East side of Central Park, as is the Mt. Sinai hospital.
2 bedroom for $2,000: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/7895692/2-bedroom-central-harlem-new-york-ny
This neighborhood is ranked highly for having a strong sense of community.It is known as Spanish Harlem, due to its demographic. Some reviews say that the public busses (the main source of transportation downtown) are often too crowded. South of 125th street is safe but northern streets still have a tendency to be unsafe in the evenings. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/east-harlem-manhattan-new-york-city-new-york)

Washington Heights

30 minutes. You can take either the bus or subway part of the way but then, because you are on the West side of Central Park, you will have to get across the park, which you can do either by walking or via bus.
2 bedroom for $1,850: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/7851376/2-bedroom-washington-heights-new-york-ny
Washington Heights is very affordable and the apartments are larger than many places in the city. There are several nearby parks. It is somewhat of a 'downscale' neighborhood, with many discount stores, etc. It is largely a Spanish population. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/east-harlem-manhattan-new-york-city-new-york)

Inwood

45 minutes by subway. Like Washington Heights, this neighborhood is on the West side so your commute will have to have two parts: subway/bus and then walk/bus across the park.
2 bedrooms for $1,550: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/6831486/2-bedroom-inwood-new-york-ny
This neighborhood is highly ranked as the best balance between affordable and "clean and green." The Eastern side of the neighborhood is very safe and surrounded by three parks. The Western side is a bit rougher and can be unsafe. This is one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/inwood-manhattan-new-york-city-new-york)

Midtown

25 minutes by subway
2 bedroom for $1,995: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/8095263/2-bedroom-theater-district-west-new-york-nj
This is an expensive neighborhood. The above apartment is on the lower end of offerings and you should expect to spend closer to $2,500-$3,000 (total) for a 2 bedroom.
Midtown is the best part of New York City for transportation. All major subway lines stop in midtown. There are many shopping options. Rooms here are smaller than uptown, and the neighborhoods are generally less clean. Midtown is relatively safe. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/midtown-manhattan-new-york-city-new-york)

Long Island City (Queens)

30 minutes by subway
2 bedroom for $1,700: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/8628109/2-bedroom-long-island-city-long-island-city-ny
This is a somewhat expensive neighborhood. The above apartment is on the lower end of offerings and you should expect to spend closer to $2,000-$2,500 (total) for a 2 bedroom.
Long Island City has seen a lot of growth recently, so it is slowly becoming a youthful place but at the moment it is more residential than centered around a nightlife. There are limited options in terms of shopping, eating, etc. The commute is easy and public transportation is pretty readily accessible. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/long-island-city-queens-new-york-city-new-york)

Astoria (Queens)

35 minutes by subway
2 bedroom for $2,000: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/8607871/2-bedroom-astoria-queens-ny
This is a somewhat expensive neighborhood. The above apartment is on the lower end of offerings and you should expect to spend closer to $2,000-$2,500 (total) for a 2 bedroom.
Astoria has the ease of commute of Long Island City but is more youthful, with shopping, nightlife, etc, and more easily accessible. Some parts are close to the water. There is a lot to do on the weekends. Certain areas (particularly those with skyline views) are much more expensive. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/astoria-queens-new-york-city-new-york)

Park Slope (Brooklyn)

An hour by subway
2 bedroom for $2,500: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/8313793/2-bedroom-park-slope-brooklyn-ny
This is a very expensive neighborhood. The above apartment is on the lower end of offerings and you should expect to spend closer to $2,500-$2,300 (total) for a 2 bedroom.
This neighborhood is both safe and gorgeous, but it is very expensive. There are lots of picturesque brownstones and parks, with good food and shopping options. It is a long commute to the hospital but on the weekends, there should be little need to go into Manhattan. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/park-slope-brooklyn-new-york-city-new-york)

Bedstuy (Brooklyn)

An hour + (65-70 minutes), Like Inwood and Washington Heights above, you need to account for two separate forms of transportation since you will need to cross the park.
2 bedroom for $1,800: https://www.zumper.com/apartments-for-rent/1689746/2-bedroom-bedford-stuyvesant-new-york-ny
The full neighborhood name is Bedford Stuyvesant. Certain areas are considered unsafe, but it varies from street to street. It's not particularly pretty, but prices are less expensive. Some say that it is up and coming. (Reviews from http://www.streetadvisor.com/long-island-city-queens-new-york-city-new-york)

Other helpful resources:

To get a sense of the socioeconomic breakdown of those in each neighborhood, you can use this tool, http://envisioningdevelopment.net/map/, which will show you the median income for each selected neighborhood.

Take a look at this article for a good sense of steps you should take when beginning your search: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140409/east-village/10-tips-on-how-find-your-first-new-york-apartment.

Naked Apartments has a neighborhood finder tool that will allow you to input your preferences on price, building amenities, etc, and it will show you which neighborhoods fit your budget. http://www.nakedapartments.com/neighborhood-finder?rent=2000&size=3

As you can see, New York is expensive! That being said, you should note that this site is somewhat skewed and it IS possible to find apartments for significantly less than what this portrays. However, this is a good way of seeing how neighborhoods compare to one another and what 'average' rent you should expect to pay.