Imagine yourself meandering down an inviting, shop-lined esplanade while enjoying a warm powdery beignet from Cafe du Monde. As you wander the French Quarter, you pass by tourists, college students, locals strolling with their dogs, buskers, and street performers. While you stroll, you hear cool jazz wafting from one of the smaller bars. A Cajun food truck is serving up steaming fresh jambalaya and gumbo while a jam band plays on the street nearby.
Further down, you pass brightly painted Creole-style cottages and elegant historic French-inspired buildings. Spanish moss drips from majestic oak trees. You take a moment to look down toward the bayou, breathing in the warm delta air, and you’re in awe of the scents, tastes, sounds, and sights that surround you. This is the mélange that makes New Orleans unique, alluring, and exciting.
If that’s the kind of vibe you’re looking for, then ‘The Big Easy’ could be your next home. But does the thought of moving stress you out? Not to worry when you use our service to hire professional movers. Just click ‘Get Started’ when you’re ready, and Great Guys Moving will provide you with up to four free estimates. We’re here to help you start your next exciting chapter in New Orleans.
Living in New Orleans, LA: What to Know Before Moving to New Orleans
Before being part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, La Nouvelle-Orléans was the home of Native Americans, then the French, the Spanish, and enslaved West Africans. Today, the Spanish, African, and French influence is heavily evident in the diversity of music, food, culture, and art that makes the City of New Orleans so widely unique for its estimated 423,656 residents. Having grown immensely from its early days, now the greater New Orleans metropolitan area is home to about 1,167,000 residents.
New Orleans, also referred to as the ‘Birthplace of Jazz,’ is now a cultural mecca, attracting tourists, students, and new residents from all over the world who desire in the wonder and energy of the city. But of course, visiting a city and living there are two different things, and while New Orleans is a top scorer in many categories such as arts and culture, history, and entertainment, new residents should also know about the higher crime rates, increased flood risks, and current economic health.
Pros and Cons of Living in New Orleans
- Vibrant arts and culture scene – If you’re a passionate history, arts, culture, or music lover, rejoice! You’ll love living in New Orleans. There’s always something going on.
- Cost of living index is moderate – the cost of living index is 107.5. While this is higher than the national average of 100, the margin of difference is slight, and most expenses are lower than average.
- Diversity – New Orleans celebrates its ethnic diversity with 60% African American, 33% White, 4% Hispanic, and 3% Asian residents.
- Natural wonders – Beautiful bayous team with wildlife and nature preserves showcase gorgeous wetlands and swamps.
- High crime rates – both property crime and violent crime rates are higher than the national average.
- High susceptibility to flooding – New Orleans’ low elevation at about 6 feet below sea level makes the city more vulnerable to flooding than other cities. Plus, its levees create a bowl effect in the center of the city, trapping any flood water that comes in.
- Poor economic health – The unemployment rate is higher than the national average, and the average income per capita and median household income are both lower than the national average.
- Property Tax – The average county property tax rate for Orleans County is 0.74%. Property tax on a home at the median home price of $186,000 would be $1,376. The national average property tax is $2,252.
- Sales Tax – The state tax rate of 4.45% and the Orleans County rate of 5% add up to a combined sales tax rate in New Orleans of 9.45%. This rate is one of the higher rates compared to other US cities.
- Income Tax – The average income tax rate for New Orleans is 6%, slightly higher than the US average, which is 4.6%.
Given the quality of life that New Orleans offers, the housing market is very affordable. There are currently 3,271 homes listed on Realtor.com, and although home appreciation is currently down 0.9%, home appreciation over the last ten years was an amazing 51.5%. While the majority of residents rent, homeownership is 38%, and the median age of New Orleans’ homes is 56 years, according to bestplaces.net.
As of March 2019, the median home value was $186,000, but the median list price is considerably more at $319,000. The average monthly rent is $1,450 in the metro area but $1,695 in the city.
Are you looking for affordability? Check out Tall Timbers-Brechtel, Desire, Old Aurora, and Read Blvd East for more affordable housing, but be sure to study the local crime rate before choosing one of these cheaper neighborhoods.
Cost of Living
Bestplaces.net uses an index average of 100 to evaluate the cost of living expenses. For New Orleans, the overall cost of living index score is 107.5/100, only slightly higher than the US average and much lower compared to some other US cities like San Diego 177.5/100; Miami 137.1/100; or Honolulu 201.1/100.
The only expense that’s higher than average is transportation at 155/100. All other expenses are average or lower: groceries 92.9/100; health 88.3/100; utilities 87.3/100; and miscellaneous 97.8/100. Housing is right at the average 100/100.
According to the EPI Family Budget Calculator, a family of four would need to earn at least $76,213 per year to a moderate lifestyle in New Orleans. However, the median household income is $36,964, quite a bit below the US average of $53,482.
Weather & Natural Disasters
New Orleans’ humid subtropical climate serves up only two seasons: long, hot, humid summers and short, windy, mild winters. The two warmest months are July and August, both with average highs of 91 and average lows of 75.
Residents start getting a break from the oppressive summer heat in October when the temperatures start falling. The coolest months are December, with an average high of 64 and an average low of 47, and January, with 62 as the average high and 45 average low.
While New Orleans is reported to have 216 days of sunshine each year, the city also gets an average of 64.45 inches of rainfall annually. June is the rainiest month, receiving almost eight inches of rain. The other months average between four and six inches of rain, and there’s no recorded snowfall.
Due to its coastal and below sea level location, New Orleans is most vulnerable to hurricanes, tropical cyclones, storm surges, and severe flooding. Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, and residents are encouraged to remain prepared and on alert during this season.
Since the city is about six feet below sea level, any water that collects, either as a result of storm surge or heavy rainfall, poses a flood risk. Because levees surround New Orleans, a geographical ‘bowl’ effect has occurred, making water drainage a serious challenge once the area floods. If you buy a home, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken out a flood insurance policy, which can take 30 days to take effect. You’ll be able to learn about natural disaster threats and prepare yourself by visiting the NOLA Ready Emergency website.
Economy & Job Market
The health of the economy and job market in New Orleans is slightly below average. The unemployment rate is 4.9%, one point higher than the US average of 3.9%, plus the job market grew only 1.4% over the last year. Projected growth in the next ten years, according to bestplaces.net, is 25.1% for New Orleans and 33.5% for the US.
Oil and gas production and activities lead the economy, followed closely by tourism, port commerce and shipbuilding, and aerospace manufacturing. Additional sectors include health care and social assistance; accommodation and food services; educational services; retail trade; and professional, scientific, and technical services.
Major employers include Ochsner Health System, St Tammany Parish Public School Board, Jefferson Parish School Board, Northrop Grumman, LSU Health Sciences Center, and Tulane University.
For jobseekers new to New Orleans, the best markets to look in are technology, industry and manufacturing, and healthcare. Online job boards are a good way to see what kinds of employment options are available.
Traffic & Transportation
The compact city makes walking and biking very convenient, and if you’re hoping to use public transportation, you’ll have lots of options. The most popular ways of getting around without using your car include ride-sharing and bike-sharing (the ‘Blue Bikes’); the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority streetcar system, which runs along five lines; the public bus system, which has 34 lines; and cabs or pedicabs, which are available nearly everywhere.
The major thoroughfares include I-10, which runs west from New Orleans or northeast to Alabama, and Highway 90, which runs from the northeast to south of New Orleans. The other major thoroughfare is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which runs north-south across Lake Pontchartrain connecting New Orleans to the rest of Louisiana. You’ll want to avoid these major highways and the central business district during rush hour. And a tip from locals: never drive through the French Quarter at any time. With all the festivals, constant events, and tourists, driving is a serious challenge year-round. You’re better off walking, biking, or using public transportation.
Walkscore.com rates New Orleans with a 58 walking score, a bike score of 64, which is higher than average, and a transit score of 44. The most walkable areas are the French Quarter, Central Business District, Touro, and Marigny.
What to Do
The plethora of events, attractions, and entertainment is what attracts so many to ‘The Big Easy.’ Even though there’s an emphasis on city-centered art and cultural attractions, New Orleans also provides some great options if you’d rather be playing outside in nature.
You can get some fresh air and go for a run or bike in the 1,300-acre City Park, or take in the city views with a picnic by the water at Crescent Park. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, and Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife area are waiting for you to explore amazing plant and animal life. The Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium, and Audubon Butterfly Garden are great outings for kids of all ages.
Back in the heart of the city, you’ll be able to enjoy live music, parties, or shows 24/7 on all the French Quarter streets. At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, you can catch a large concert, event, or watch a New Orleans Saints football game.
New Orleans is home to dozens of art and history museums. Plus, if you have a hankering for some retail therapy, New Orleans is known for having some fabulous boutique shopping which you’ll find on Magazine and Canal Streets. The list of things to do goes on and on so best to check out the myriad array at neworleans.com.
Schools & Universities
New Orleans Public Schools serves the city with many high ranking schools as measured by greatschools.org. The entire school system was restructured after Hurricane Katrina, and now, parents can choose which school their children will attend.
Some of these highly rated schools include Lusher Charter School, ranked 10/10; Lake Forest Elementary Charter School, 10/10; Alice Harte Elementary Charter School, 8/10; Benjamin Franklin High School, 10/10; and the New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, 7/10. In addition to high-ranking schools, according to greatschools.org, students score above the state average in college readiness, US history, math, and English.
In addition to having good public school options in the city, New Orleans has a lot to offer if you’re looking for 4-year colleges, universities, community, and trade/technical schools. Some highly respected 4-year colleges and universities include the University of New Orleans (UNO), Loyola University, Tulane University, Dillard University, and Southern University of New Orleans.
Community schools include the Morris Jeff Community School, Phillis Wheatley Community School, and Homer A Plessy Community School. Those looking for technical or trade-specific schools also have plenty to choose from, including the Accelerated Dental Assisting Academy, A&W Healthcare Educators, Technical Talent South, and Park Place Premier Barber School, among many others. Whatever it is you want to study, you’re likely to find a school in New Orleans to meet your needs.
The crime rate in New Orleans is admittedly concerning. According to bestplaces.net, the property crime rate is 56.8, quite a bit higher than the national average of 35.4. For violent crime, the rate is 49.1, more than double the national average of 22.7.
Considering these very high crime rates, you’ll want to be aware of some of the most unsafe areas in New Orleans: Michoud Blvd, Warrington Dr, and Robert E Lee Blvd, Cleveland Ave and South Johnson St, and Port St and Urquhart St. You can view the complete list of New Orleans’ most unsafe neighborhoods on onlyinyourstate.com.
Areavibes.com reports that the total number of crimes in New Orleans year by year has increased by 11% and that residents have a 1 in 19 chance of becoming a victim of any crime. The best way to avoid becoming a victim? Live in one of the neighborhoods deemed safe, which includes The Garden District, Uptown, the Central Business District, the French Quarter, and Chef Menteur Highway.
- Gas Service – Atmos Energy is the largest provider of natural gas in Louisiana. To start or re-start your gas service with Atmos, click here.
- Electric Service –Entergy provides electricity in New Orleans. Click here to set up your account.
- Water Service – Residents receive their water service from the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans. Click here to learn how to start your water service.
- Trash Pick-Up/Recycling Service – The City of New Orleans, offers bi-weekly curbside trash pickup and free weekly recycling pickup to qualifying properties. To learn more and sign up for these services, click here.
- Internet & Cable Service – Several cable and internet providers serve this area, including Spectrum, Xfinity, and Cox. However, Cox receives the highest ratings for service and quality. To view programs and packages, and get started with Cox, click here.
Best Neighborhoods in New Orleans, LA
What are the best areas of the Big Easy? Check out these neighborhoods as you look for a place to call home in NOLA:
The Garden District
The Garden District, rated #2 ‘Best Neighborhood in New Orleans’ on Niche.com, is a neighborhood residents and visitors alike will fall in love with. Filled with vintage and historic mixed-style homes along oak-lined streets, you’ll find single-story Creole cottages and grand historic mansions with lavish gardens.
This elegant urban neighborhood, with a population of about 2,074, is bordered by the famous St Charles Ave and Magazine St to the north and south, Toledano St to the west, Jackson Ave to the east, and is about three miles south of the French Quarter.
According to Zillow.com, as of August 2019, the median home value was $715,900, up by 5% in the last year. The average monthly rent is $1,826, a bit higher than the city average of $1,550. In the Garden District, about 64% of residents own their homes.
The Garden District’s location is ideal. It’s close enough to attractions and things to do, and far enough away from the hubbub to feel like a quiet neighborhood. When looking for something to do or see you won’t have to travel too far. Depending on where in the neighborhood you live, you could likely walk to either Magazine St or St Charles Ave. From St Charles Ave, you can visit the shops and restaurants, or take the famous St Charles Streetcar into the French Quarter or Central Business District. If you visit Magazine St, you can browse the boutique shops, antique stores, or cafes.
While visiting a cemetery may not at first sound appealing, the Lafayette Cemetery No 1, one of the most historic above-ground cemeteries in New Orleans, is a popular spot for walking or touring with out-of-town guests. The Rink Shopping Center on Prytania St features several small specialty cafes and shops, plus is home to the Garden District Book Shop, said to be a favorite of author Anne Rice. Not far from the Rink Shopping Center is the notable Commander’s Palace, a restaurant famous for serving upscale Cajun and Creole fare with modern aesthetics. And if you don’t mind traveling a bit further, the Garden District is only one mile west of Coliseum Park, two miles south of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and two miles southwest of the Audubon museums.
Residents of the Garden District are fortunate to be near several top-notch public schools, including Benjamin Franklin High School, Lusher Charter School, and Lake Forest Elementary Charter School, all ranked 10/10 on greatschools.org; and Edward Hynes Charter School, ranked 8/10.
If a quaint, eclectic, urban neighborhood is on your radar, then look no further than the Garden District.
Just three miles northwest of the Garden District and home to Tulane University and the Loyola University of New Orleans is the Uptown/Carrollton neighborhood. With a population of about 6,255, this neighborhood is nearly triple the size of the Garden District, but equally attractive.
Uptown/Carrollton is located five miles west of the French Quarter and is bordered by the Mississippi River to the south, Palmetto and Hamilton Streets to the north, Highway 10 to the east, and Monticello Ave to the west.
According to Zillow.com, the median home value is $630,500, with a -7.3% decline over the past year; the average monthly rent is $1,917, slightly higher than the city average of $1,542. Approximately 46% of Uptown residents rent their homes and 54% own. Uptown/Carrollton was rated the #3 ‘Best Neighborhood to Live in New Orleans’ on Niche.com, and residents love the laid-back urban feel, oak trees lining the streets, and quirky cafes and shops.
Audubon Park may be the most popular attraction right in the neighborhood. This huge, beautiful outdoor space has walking, jogging and bike paths, a lagoon, a tennis court, picnic areas, and recreational space. The park is also home to the famous Tree of Life, the massive 35-foot circumference oak tree that’s said to enable branch climbers to spot the giraffes in the nearby Audubon Zoo.
Since Uptown is so close to the Garden District, both neighborhoods share many of the amenities and things to do, and since St Charles Ave runs right through the bottom half of this neighborhood, it’s easy for residents to hop onto the streetcar into the French Quarter, museums, or restaurants.
The nearby schools of this neighborhood are similar to the Garden District as well. Benjamin Franklin High School, Lusher Charter School, and Lake Forest Elementary School are all nearby and rank 10/10 on greatschools.org. Audubon Charter School and Edward Hynes Charter School also serve this neighborhood and are both ranked 8/10.
New residents, especially young professionals, will likely love everything about Uptown.
Central Business District/Downtown
As the name implies, this neighborhood is the hub of it all. Located about a mile south of the French Quarter, the Central Business District is home to all of the well-known businesses and attractions, like the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans football team the Saints; the National WWII Museum; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art; the Audubon Butterfly Garden; and Harrah’s Casino New Orleans, among others.
This urban business neighborhood is where most first-time NOLA visitors stay, but it’s home to about 2,970 residents. Bordered by the Pontchartrain Expy to the southwest, Mississippi River to the east, and Highway 10 to the north, the median home value, according to Zillow.com, is $463,300, and the average monthly rent is $1,969. 87% of residents rent their homes here, and only 13% own.
Those who live here have the most convenient access to some of New Orleans’ main attractions. But less obvious things to do and see include visiting Lafayette Square, a small park known for having live events and concerts and being a viewpoint to watch the Mardi Gras parade; going for a jog along the Mississippi River at Woldenberg Park; catching a concert or live national theatre production at Saenger Theatre or Orpheum Theatre; or visiting any of the several historic landmarks, like the Hermann-Grima House, the Xiques Mansion, or the US Custom House. Or, if you want to leave the Central Business District, you can easily hop on any of the several streetcar lines and head out wherever you’d like.
The public schools serving this neighborhood are excellent and include Thomas Jefferson High School for Advanced Studies, ranked 9/10 on greatschools.org; Lake Forest Elementary Charter School, Benjamin Franklin High School, and Lusher Charter School, all ranked 10/10.
If you want to live in the epicenter of NOLA, or plan to work in the Central Business District, you’ll enjoy all the benefits this neighborhood offers.
Referenced by some as the ‘Crown Jewel of New Orleans,’ the French Quarter is perhaps the most well-known neighborhood in the city, even to first-time visitors. Located just two miles northeast of the Central Business District and bordered by the Mississippi River to the southeast, Iberville St to the southwest, and N Rampart St to the northwest, this neighborhood is home to about 3,117 residents.
According to Zillow.com, the median value of a French Quarter home is $407,300, up 7.8% over the last year and predicted to increase by another 5% in 2020; the average monthly rent is $1,617. The French Quarter is split almost evenly between those who rent their homes, at 53% and those who own, at 47%.
You’ll have tons of options when it comes to things to do. Since the French Quarter is one of the major destinations for visitors and residents alike, you’ll find access to nearly anything 24/7. Some of the most popular attractions in this neighborhood include the nightlife and restaurants along Bourbon St or the street performers and vendors in Jackson Square. Cafe Du Monde, within the French Market, is famous for its perfect beignets, and you’ll love the French Market’s large selection of local artisanal crafts, antique collections, and gourmet delicacies.
Sometimes French Quarter locals tire of the tourist hotspots. They know of cool things to do in this jazzy neighborhood, including listening to music at the House of Blues New Orleans or getting a spa treatment at the Tao Spa or Spa Aria.
While there aren’t as many school options in the French Quarter, students still won’t have far to go for the 3-Rs. The closest and best schools serving the French Quarter include Benjamin Franklin High School, Lusher Charter School, and Edward Hynes Charter School, all ranked 10/10 on greatschools.org; Audubon Charter School, ranked 8/10; and the Homer A Plessy Community School, located closest to the Quarter, but holding the lowest greatschools.org ranking of 4/10.
If you want to live an exciting lifestyle in the world-famous historic heart of the city, the French Quarter is the neighborhood for you.
Marigny is right next door to the French Quarter. While it’s not as well-known, Marigny is home to several recognizable attractions, like Frenchmen St, known to some as the more sophisticated rival to Bourbon St; the historic Washington Square; and the Marigny Opera House.
With a resident population of about 3,085, Marigny takes on a more homey-urban vibe – very appealing if you want to stay close to the excitement but are looking for a quieter place for retreat. Marigny borders the Mississippi River to the south, Franklin Ave to the east, Esplanade Ave to the west, and St Claude Ave to the north.
According to Zillow.com, the median home value is $369,100, with a median list price of $459,000. Renters pay an average of $1,586 per month, which is a little less than rent in the French Quarter and closer to the city average of $1,542. Some 54% of Marigny residents rent their homes and 46% own.
Living in Marigny means you’ll have easy access to the French Quarter as well as to more laid-back options right within the neighborhood. Locals enjoy visiting the festivals or art markets in Washington Square, or just meeting friends under the shade of the oaks in the park. Crescent Park, a waterfront green space on the Mississippi River, offers residents several trails, scenic views, and picnic areas.
Scattered throughout Marigny and along Frenchmen St, you’ll also find lots of quirky restaurants, cafes, and jazz clubs, like Dat Dog, The Orange Couch, Three Muses, The Spotted Cafe Music Club, and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. And it’s easy to venture into other parts of the city from Marigny. Just hop on the trolley at St Claude at Elysian Fields station.
Similar to living in the French Quarter, this neighborhood doesn’t have highly-rated public school options nearby, so your kids may have a 15-minute commute to attend the top schools. The best school options are Warren Easton Charter High School, 7/10 on greatschools.org; Audubon Charter School, 8/10; and Benjamin Franklin High School and Lusher Charter School both rank 10/10.
Marigny is a great choice if you’re looking to stay close to the activity while maintaining enough distance for a little tranquility.
If you love historic homes with antique architecture, then Touro is the neighborhood for you. Popular among families and medical personnel of the nearby Touro Infirmary Hospital, this mixed-style neighborhood is located five miles south of the French Quarter and is bordered by St Charles Ave and Magazine St to the north and south, Napoleon Ave to the west, and Toledano St to the east.
With a population of about 2,870, this safe and dog-friendly neighborhood is said to have well-lit sidewalks, well-kept yards, and friendly neighbors. If you prefer to get around on foot, Touro ranks as the #4 ‘Most Walkable Place to Live in New Orleans’, according to crescentcityliving.com.
Realtor.com reports the median list price is $799,000, and Trulia.com reports the average monthly rent is $3,060, so living here means paying a little more for housing than in other New Orleans neighborhoods. An estimated 56% rent their homes and 44% own in Touro.
Being sandwiched right between St Charles Ave and Magazine St opens up a lot of options for things to do and see. From shopping the boutiques, touring the galleries on Magazine St, or walking to any number of local restaurants, cafes, or bars on and near St Charles Ave, residents of Touro have supreme access many local hotspots.
And speaking of hotspots – some of Touro’s most notable include Shaya, a Lebanese restaurant on Magazine St which was named one of the 100 best restaurants for foodies in 2016; The Delachaise, an eclectic late-night wine bar on St Charles Ave; and Le Petit Grocery, an 1800s grocery store-turned authentic Louisiana restaurant in a quaint cottage that attracts residents and visitors alike. While Touro doesn’t have a city park area, residents can easily access greenspace in the French Quarter or the Central Business District by hopping on the St Charles streetcar from St Charles Ave.
Touro is near several public schools including Lake Forest Elementary Charter School and Lusher Charter School, both ranked 10/10 on greatschools.org; Alice Harte Elementary School and Audubon Charter School, both ranked 8/10; and Warren Easton Senior High School, ranked 7/10.
If a classic New Orleans-style home in a cozy, walkable neighborhood is what you’re after, then Touro might be just the place for you.
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