Harlem is a great place to live. I live in the Graduate Housing building on 118th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenue. My commute to the CUNY Graduate Center is easy, and I live within walking distance of several grocery stores, a Target, a community garden, and some of the best Cuban food I’ve had in my life. Kids and young families walk around outside when the weather is nice, people wave to each other from across the street, and some elderly folks sit in the garden all day and talk. There’s a church across the street where they sing carols at Christmas and a fruit and vegetable vendor around the corner. Our building is brand new and rent is average for the neighborhood, the gym downstairs is well-equipped, and all the staff members are friendly and quick to attend to any questions or maintenance issues you might have. I’ve never lived in a better apartment community where you hear people talking philosophy over laundry or watching basketball downstairs. It’s a convenient location, the rooftop view is lovely, and it was a great introduction to living in New York City. I have friends who live nearby on 111th Street and they also love the area.
At 103rd and Lexington, you’ll find a great coffee shop called East Harlem Café and a Mexican restaurant called El Paso. The Cuban restaurant that makes the best mojitos in the barrio is Amor Cubano on 110th & 3rd Avenue. There are also fantastic restaurants in Yorkville and the Upper East Side and plenty of coffee and sandwich shops to study in or meet friends.
If you like exercise, the jog to Central Park is quick and easy, and along 5th Avenue as you head downtown into the Upper East Side you’ll find the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim. If you’re into race culture, definitely join the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and sign up for one of their half marathons! I go to the Super Runner’s Shop on Lexington & 89th Street. If you like biking, I often ride down to Central Park. I take my bike to MODSquad and they always do excellent work and treat me well.
East Harlem is a great place to live, from 120th Street down to Yorkville and the Upper East Side. East Harlem is generally more affordable than other neighborhoods and has been a great introduction, for me, to living in New York City. I would highly recommend it for anyone.