Chinatown Neighborhood Review - Manhattan Moving Guide

A complete guide on all things Chinatown in New York City. Find out the latest, the best restaurants, attractions, average rental prices, transportation, schools, and neighborhood safety. Get the low-down on the neighborhood vibe as well as some history.
Editors Rating (3 stars out of 5)
6.4 Overall
Average Rent Prices 7
Public transportation 9
Schools 7
Lifestyle 5
Crime 4

If you're looking for a quiet neighborhood with little street congestion, Chinatown is not your place

Home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere, this area of Lower Manhattan is an immersive cultural experience.

The neighborhood borders the Lower East Side to the east, Little Italy to the north, Tribeca to the West and Civic Center to the south.

Residents range from newcomers looking for affordable downtown living to longtime residents who have been there for generations.

Although tourists and vendors pack the busy sidewalks, it has an overall community-driven feel thanks to the longtime residents.

Although the area is dominated by older walk-up buildings, new condo developments have popped up in recent years.

Real Estate in Chinatown

Whether you’re looking for an apartment to rent or an investment property to buy, Chinatown offers a range of real estate options at various price points.

The area is especially known for its pre-war walk-up buildings with distinctive Chinese-style architecture and ornate wrought iron fire escapes.

You can also find modern condominiums that offer amenities like rooftop terraces with cityscape views.

The majority of Chinatown's real estate consists of walk-ups, though some condos have popped up in recent years near the neighborhood's borders.

The walk-ups are typically located above restaurants and shops and have limited space.

Mom-and-pop landlords, not major developers, own them, so those looking to move to the area will not get the frills and amenities of a luxury building.

Pro Tip: Walk-up apartments located on higher floors tend to rent for a little less than those on lower floors.

The most affordable area to look is between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge, closer to the water.

The costs go up on streets closer to the touristy areas (Delancey St and Mott and Mulberry St).

Rental prices in Chinatown vary depending on the location and size of the unit.

Generally speaking, expect to pay between $2,000 to $3,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Chinatown – slightly higher than the average rents in Manhattan.

Average Rental Prices in Chinatown

1 Bed$2,500
2 Beds$3,200
3 Beds$5,200
4 Beds$6,000
PropertyNest Real Estate Data As of June 2023

Average Rent Price History by Neighborhood

When it comes to buying real estate in Chinatown, median home prices run around $1.2 million for condos and coops on average – although prices vary widely depending on size and location.

There are only condo and co-op apartments available in Chinatown, most within older buildings, although there are some newer developments and renovated buildings in the area.

Chinatown is a busy area, bustling with activity. But because it is a relatively affordable area for lower Manhattan, and close walking distance to other choice neighborhoods, it could be a great place to buy.

Average Sales Prices in Chinatown

1 Bed$950,000
2 Beds$1,950,000
PropertyNest Real Estate Data As of June 2023

Apartments Available for Rent & Sale in Chinatown

Public Transportation

Although the narrow streets of Chinatown are great for wandering, there is also a number of public transit options for residents.

Its unique location allows residents to commute to other areas of the city with ease.

Multiple subways lines converge around Canal Street.
The neighborhood is also convenient for Brooklyn-working residents since the Manhattan Bridge connects Chinatown to Downtown Brooklyn.

Subway lines in neighborhood

  • N Q

    BMT Broadway Line

Bus Lines in Chinatown
M15Madison St/Market St
M9E Broadway/Forsyth St
M22Madison St/Market St
M103Bowery/Canal St

Bikes & Bike Safety

There are multiple bike lanes in the Chinatown neighborhood. Many bikers prefer to cruise along the East River, which runs parallel to FDR Drive.

There is a pedestrian walkway and bike path leading to that area. The city has recently installed some bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

There are also two Citibike stations in the neighborhood. They can be found at these two locations:

  1. Division St and Bowery
  2. Forsyth St and Canal St.

Restaurants & Dining in Chinatown

There is no shortage of amazing noodle shops in this neighborhood.

Famous spots in Chinatown include Joe's Shanghai for dumplings and Dim Sum Go Go for a large selection of dim sum.

Chinatown is not only good for noodles and dim sum. It houses some of the city's best dessert cafes and tea houses.

For dessert, try Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for homemade scoops topped with Asian candies.

Sweet Moment serves up some of the funkiest and creatively delicious treats in all of NYC.

Silk Road Cafe serves up some of the best coffees, teas, and pastry treats in the area.

If you're a cat lover, head to Meow Parlour and enjoy a cup of joe with some (adoptable) furry friends.

Attractions & Nightlife

Chinatown is huge on maintaining its core identity and preserving tradition.

For this reason, one of the most popular destinations for residents and tourists is the Museum of Chinese in America.

Most cultural institutions like museums and art galleries are located more toward the Lower East Side.

Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association is NYC's largest Buddhist temple.

If you're looking for the most exciting (and possibly overwhelming) shopping experience of your life, Canal Street is the street.

They have it all. But get ready to haggle with vendors for your favorite knock-off designer purse or accessory.

Nightlife is slow and steady in Chinatown, and locals usually head to Little Italy, Soho, or Tribeca if they are looking for a dancing venue or trendy hangout.

Locals do, however, frequent 169 Bar if they are looking for a cheap beer or relaxed vibes with DJ who spins a new wave.

Public and Charter Schools

The schools in Chinatown are part of District #2.

The few public schools in this neighborhood are above average and many of them cater to non-English speaking students.

Local Schools in Chinatown
Ps 124 Yung WingPublic - PK-5 - 809 studentsFamily-oriented, gifted program, hard-working PTA, high achieving, strong literacy instruction
Ms 131Public - 6-8 - 417 studentsFocus on wiriting, class discussion and debates. Program in English for new immigrants; dual language Mandarin classes
Pace High SchoolPublic - 9-12 - 478 studentsKnown for class discussions and projects, students may take classes at Pace University
Emma Lazarus High SchoolPublic - 9-12 - 248 studentsoffers small classes and a challenging college-prep classes for new immigrants

How Safe is the Chinatown Neighborhood?

Although living in Chinatown can have advantages, it is important to know how safe the area is before deciding to move there.

Generally speaking, Chinatown is considered a fairly safe area for visitors and residents alike.

The neighborhood has lower overall crime rates than many other parts of the city, and local businesses and community organizations work hard to keep it that way.

In terms of safety and security, law enforcement officers are actively patrolling the streets of Chinatown 24/7, both on foot and in vehicles, to ensure public safety.

Additionally, cameras placed throughout the area help deter criminal activities or allow authorities to respond quickly to any suspicious activity reported by locals or visitors.

Crime statistics

Crime rate: 7 out of 10
Approximately 26.8223 crimes (felony) per 1000 residents
Low Medium High

One thing to bear in mind is that, like any city neighborhood, some areas within Chinatown may be more dangerous than others, so always be aware of your surroundings when visiting or walking around the area.

It's also advisable to stay on well-lit streets and avoid walking alone late at night if possible.

The locals in Chinatown are generally friendly and welcoming towards visitors, but always remember to remain respectful of their customs and traditions while visiting the area.

One great way to explore Chinatown safely without fear of getting lost is to join one of the many guided tours available through local tour companies or nonprofit organizations like the Lower East Side Conservancy or the Museum at Eldridge Street.

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Ruth Shin
About the author

Ruth Shin is the Founder and CEO of PropertyNest. She shares in-depth insights on real estate, personal finance, and home improvement drawing from her experience as a licensed real estate agent, editing personal finance publications, and managing many home renovation projects. Ruth graduated with a BA from Hunter College in Writing, History, and Special Honors.