Living in Harlem a no-go?

Friends want to get a place in Harlem for the summer - affordable, spacious, etc and we've had a hard time finding other places on the island. I told them it's a dealbreaker and feel like they think I'm being unreasonable. AITA? My main concern is crime and in general I just don't want to live in a sketchy area - feel like the whole "it's gentrified" thing is not fully there given recent crime rates/the vibe I get talking to people.

Talking Central and East Harlem, not Morningside Heights/other nicer neighborhoods.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (40)

May 2, 2021 - 2:18pm

Harlem is up and coming, but I wouldn't choose to live there. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
May 2, 2021 - 6:31pm

I think the answer is, unfortunately, demographic-dependent. I don't think I'd even entertain the idea if I were a woman or someone who appeared to be of Asian descent. Probably an overreaction, but personally I wouldn't press my luck.

As a slightly athletic man of medium build who rarely travels alone at night and grew up in urban Chicago, crime wouldn't be my top concern. It could happen, but it wouldn't keep me up at night. My bigger issue would be isolation - getting to Midtown isn't terrible, but getting downtown would be a bitch

  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
May 3, 2021 - 10:40am

Do you know how to walk around in the city?

I don't think it really matters where you're from, but there's a level of comfort / familiarity that help keep you from looking like a target - if you grew up in the suburbs but can walk confidently through Harlem, then no issues... but if you look out of place you invite attention. Are you going to look constantly on edge, jump when the crazies scream at you, stare at your phone while meandering down the street, etc?

May 2, 2021 - 7:56pm

Would probably not do it unless you're black. Absolutely not if you're Asian or female - had a female Asian friend who was harassed by black dudes in that area multiple times during her 12 week internship. At the time I only half believed her but have heard several others mention such problems as well.

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
May 2, 2021 - 8:01pm

Native New Yorker here - do not do it. The farthest uptown I would consider going is 120th street on the west side (you're still in Columbia University territory) and 110th on the east side (after that it becomes true Spanish Harlem). 

  • Works at Wilshire Associates
May 4, 2021 - 5:03pm

As a young female currently living in the bottom part of East Harlem, totally agree with this. If you're along the park, it's great and you're close to the 6, 2/3, and A/C/E trains. Would not go east of Mad or north of 110th, 116th at best on the east side. West side much more forgiving up through 125th; 8th Ave/Frederick Douglas is a cool area. I definitely get some, uh, comments walking on the street, but haven't been followed or threatened or anything like that.

May 2, 2021 - 8:39pm

I'm debating between a few places right now and considered Harlem. I don't know the city that well as I've never lived there for an extended period. But imo I don't think it would be that bad, especially if for an internship. Don't feel like paying more than I have to for while I'm an intern.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
May 2, 2021 - 10:10pm

Personally I'd say Harlem is an ok place to rent, especially if it's just for the summer. If you're near an express train and working in midtown it's also a very quick commute. I've worked with a couple people in banking who lived in Harlem. All liked it and never had issues with safety (for reference-this was 1 black guy, 1 Asian girl, 1 light skinned mixed girl, 1 indian guy). All lived below 125 in central Harlem or 110 in East Harlem.

I myself lived on 105th on the west side one summer-frequently went to Harlem for food, the gym, etc. and never had any issues.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 2, 2021 - 11:51pm

Dude, if it's WFH why are you moving into the city in the first place? Stay home and make more money, it's just a few weeks, and for those few weeks you'll probably be pretty slammed with work anyway if your trying to make a good impression.

May 3, 2021 - 11:15am

Exactly. This makes no sense. NYC is crime-spiking, masked dystopian nightmare right now. Of all the times to move to NYC, why now?


  • 3
  • 3
May 3, 2021 - 11:14am

What exactly are your concerns? Lmk and I can try to help. I've lived in Harlem and worked in finance since right out of undergrand but lived in nyc most of my life. A lot of it depends on your preferences and also just your comfort level in a new city. Harlem's changed a lot and specific blocks/areas are very different than others. Theres a new buidling just a block over from me with a doorman, rooftop, gym and an indoor pool but if you go to far east you have to dodge druggies on your way to the 4/5/6 train so it can wildly vary.

May 3, 2021 - 9:45am

Yea I would not recommend living in Harlem if you are looking for the 'traditional banking life style'. Either live somewhere much cheaper and save money, or pay a bit and find a place in LES, fidi or Hell's Kitchen, affordable neighborhoods, closer to everything and can avoid crime (still might be harassed, lots of relatively violent homeless people in nyc recently unfortunately).

  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
May 3, 2021 - 7:50pm

Lol I've been in hell's kitchen the entire time and have had no issues.

The only time you'll have an issue is when you get to the part of Hell's Kitchen that borders Chelsea/Timees Square. That part has always been suspicious as fuck.

The area below is the only suspicious part of Hell's Kitchen, which arguably is not really Hell's Kitchen.


May 3, 2021 - 11:23am

Lots of limousine liberals in this thread.  I thought people were all about diversity and inclusion?

  • 2
  • 1
May 3, 2021 - 12:06pm

Even if they move there inclusion won't be going on. The same people who post a black square on their social media account somehow don't feel anything wrong in gentrifying and pricing out traditionally poor minority neighborhoods as well uprooting the culture and placing a Whole Foods, SoulCycle/CrossFit/, and art galleries there instead.


May 3, 2021 - 3:00pm

NYC, the supposed liberal mecca of the US, is one of the most segregated cities in the US.

Lots of virtue signaling SJW white types that REFUSE to live by or send their kids to school with blacks and latinos.  Weird

I lived in park slope and saw this daily from the moms there.  Post a "all are welcome here" "this house supports BLM, muslims, gays" etc sign in front of their browstone, but the moment their beloved school they send kaylee too has too many black people.........either petition the school board to redo the boundaries, or they send their kid to privat school.

  • 1
  • Associate 1 in CB
May 3, 2021 - 1:21pm

I've lived in Central Harlem for the last 4.5 years, on 125th specifically. I'm moving out when my lease ends.

I loved the convenience of being within walking distance of the 2/3, 4/5/6, and A/B/C/D lines. Depending on where you are it's a quick ride to grand central, a lot faster than what people that have never even been above Central Park will tell you. I was able to get to Times Square in a 10 min train ride and Grand Central in 12-13 minutes. There's also a Whole Foods nearby for groceries which is nice. My building is extremely diverse.

With that said, I'm leaving. You will hate living on 125th, it's the Main Street in Harlem and there's a ton of activity going on, from drug dealing, people hanging out, tons of homeless people and junkies, tourists walking towards the Apollo, and other things. If you're a guy you'll be totally safe, but it's not worth it anymore to me. Pre-COVID I noticed the area start to improve and there was a noticeable police presence, but since COVID I don't feel as safe. I've heard gunshots, seen people get jumped (not random strangers on the street but people that clearly know each other) and it's really not a good look. There's crime but it's not as bad as a lot of people think. I've never had anything happen to me in 5 years, as most of the crime is targeted. 

It has it's advantages but for me, especially after COVID, it's a little too sketchy for me. I'm black if it matters.

May 3, 2021 - 3:14pm

Yeah seems about right. What neighborhood are you moving to?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Associate 1 in CB
May 3, 2021 - 4:24pm

Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎

Yeah seems about right. What neighborhood are you moving to?

Still trying to figure that out. I want a neighborhood feel but I like Brooklyn Heights, Chelsea, West Village. So many good deals out there right now in the $2500-3000 range and commute time won't be a factor for me since I'm not working IB hours.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

May 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (194) $234
  • 2nd Year Analyst (110) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (96) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (26) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (402) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (327) $82