1. Park Slope
15th St. to Flatbush Ave., Prospect Park West to Fourth Ave.
No neighborhood is the butt of more stroller jokes or the recipient of more anti-gentrification scorn. But any way you slice it, Park Slope is the very definition of a well-rounded neighborhood. Of the dozen categories we tallied, it falls just slightly below average in two: affordability (the average two-bedroom rental is $2,275) and diversity. In all other areas, it’s somewhere between above grade and superlative: It’s blessed with excellent public schools, low crime, vast stretches of green space, scores of restaurants and bars, a diverse retail sector, and a population of more artists and creatives than even its reputation for comfortable bohemianism might suggest (more, in fact, than younger, trendier Williamsburg). It might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect neighborhood, but statistically speaking (by a hair), there’s nowhere better.
2. Lower East Side
Canal St. to Houston St., East River to Bowery
Suppose we told you about a neighborhood with some of the city’s best nightlife, along with outstanding restaurants and shops. It’s conveniently located in Lower Manhattan. It’s vital and energetic, gentrifying but reasonably diverse. And a two-bedroom apartment costs around $2,300 a month. Sounds too good to be true, but the numbers tell the story. Yes, the Lower East Side has some prominent warts: Its housing stock is fairly run-down. It’s noisy. And not everyone wants to live where they go out. But few other neighborhoods offer such a complete New York City experience at this price point.