New York vs. Los Angeles: Which City Is Best?

Where should you live: New York City or Los Angeles? In this City Showdown, WatchMojo points out the differences between New York and Los Angeles, and helps you decide if the lifestyle, culture, landmarks and attractions in each of these popular American tourist destinations are for you. Do you root for the New York Yankees, Giants or Knicks, or do you cheer on the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rams or the LA Lakers? Would you rather visit Hollywood or travel to the Statue of Liberty? We’ll discuss the real estate, climate, sports, quality of life and culture of each city to help you pick the best American city.
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New York vs. Los Angeles


East coast versus West coast; Atlantic versus Pacific; The Big Apple versus the City of Angels. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and in this installment of Versus, we’re pitting New York against Los Angeles to see which U.S. metropolis comes out on top.

Round 1: Economy & Real Estate


What started as a Native American settlement and eventually became a trading post for Dutch settlers is now the largest city in the United States. As a global hub for commerce, business and trade, New York City has few equals.

With a notable infrastructure, banks galore and New York Harbor encouraging trade in the city, business- and finance-minded people gather in Manhattan. Located within the Financial District, Lower Manhattan’s eight-block run of road known as Wall Street is not only a national, but also a global financial center, containing both the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange.

But not only is New York a financial hub; the city is also home to some of the world’s priciest real estate, meaning rent – on the whole – is astronomical. As of roughly 2014, your average New Yorker paying $1,300/month in rent would likely barely get a ground-floor studio apartment – and forget about a view of the park.

Then we have Los Angeles; a city once part of Spain and later Mexico, which ultimately joined the U.S. in 1848. The home of Hollywood and the center of the world’s English-language film industry; La-La Land’s main business is show business. But, while the travel, showbiz, manufacturing and tech industries are still going strong, the rest of the city’s growth has stagnated since the 1960s.

On the plus side, however, rent in LA is far more affordable than in NYC: although U.S. Census data reveals that LA’s median rent rose 55% between 1980-2014, you can still expect to rent a nice one-bedroom with hardwood floors, parking and on-site laundry for $1,300/month.

While the West Coast is the best coast when it comes to relatively affordable rent, there’s no beating the City That Never Sleeps for business. For that reason, Round 1 goes to NYC.

WINNER: New York 1 / Los Angeles 0

Round 2: Nature & Climate


Do you like freezing through winter, melting through summer, and breaking out the leather jacket in spring and fall? Located in the Northeast United States, New York City’s five boroughs experience four distinct seasons, with average January temperatures lingering around freezing and average heat in July hovering in the high-70s.

Most residents find life in the city unbearable in the summer, and if they can they escape to the Hamptons on weekends to beat the heat. The most outdoorsy thing to do in Manhattan proper is a walk around one of the many green spaces. Or if it’s wintertime, try ice-skating at Rockefeller Plaza.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, is the land of perpetual summer. Like NYC, January is the coldest month while July is the warmest; but that translates to a more pleasant range from the mid-50s-low-70s. Plus, only about 35 days of the year get enough precipitation to even mention. Angelenos really only need to worry about earthquakes when it comes to natural phenomena.

Unfortunately, that practically rain-fee climate – as well as LA’s dependence on cars – leads to smog. Los Angeles’ smog season lasts from May-October, coinciding with the region’s dry period. That dryness commonly leads to forest fires, as well.

On the plus side, that agreeable weather allows residents and visitors alike to partake in such nature-based activities as nearby whale watching, hikes in the Hollywood Hills, trips to Griffith Park, bike tours, surfing and more. Also, it’s just two hours from Big Bear if skiing’s more your speed.

As much as we love a white Christmas, it’s nice to wear jeans and a t-shirt year-round. So, we’ve got to award Los Angeles with the win in Round 2.

WINNER: New York 1 / Los Angeles 1

Round 3: Professional Sports


With at least two teams in each of the four major sports leagues, NYC is in a league of its own when it comes to sports cities. Although the Mets have many fervent fans, Major League Baseball’s Yankees are one of the most storied and successful teams in any sport, with 27 World Series titles and Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra rounding out the team’s dream line-up. The NBA’s Knicks call Madison Square Garden home, while the Nets make their home in Brooklyn. For football fans, the Jets-Giants rivalry dates back decades; for hockey fans, the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils have 11 Stanley Cups between them. And for soccer fans, MLS clubs like the Red Bulls and New York City FC show residents what they’ve been missing.

Meanwhile, some 2,700-miles away, Los Angeles brings on the competition: once a staple of the New York baseball scene, the LA Dodgers share a rivalry not only with their friends down the Freeway, the Angels of Anaheim, but also with the dreaded Yankees. The Clippers are known as LA’s “other” NBA team, and that’s cause the Lakers are the city’s most successful franchise in any sport, with the likes of Shaq and Kobe, Magic, and more donning the gold and purple over the years. The NFL’s Rams have once again called Los Angeles home since 2016; hockey fans have both the Kings and the Anaheim Ducks to root for; and the LA Galaxy is one of the most-decorated teams in Major League Soccer. They even enticed David Beckham out of Europe for a few seasons.

LA remains competitive, but this category is pretty much no contest: choosing New York and its successful, celebrated franchises is a slam-dunk, homerun AND a touchdown.

WINNER: New York 2 / Los Angeles 1

Round 4: Quality of Life


Let’s talk stereotypes: in NYC, perpetually stressed and grumpy citizens rush around, on that hamster wheel we call the rat race, looking down at the sidewalk, yelling at cabbies or shoving their way onto a subway car. But not one of them can imagine ever leaving Gotham for all the money on Wall Street.

In LA, everyone’s a transplant from somewhere else on their way to becoming a star. And they all drive everywhere, resulting in traffic jams always. Those people who make their home in LA are known for being nice and laid-back to a fault, but they’re also sorta airheads who are very conscious about health and physical appearances – for better or worse.

Each of these descriptions is a stereotype, but there are kernels of truth in there. New York’s pace is much faster in NYC than LA’s, yes, but the idea of the sardonic, stressed-out New Yorker is a thing of the past – mostly. And not EVERYONE in LA is health-conscious; but you will see a lot of egg-white omelets on the breakfast menu.

Actually, if you really want to understand the difference between NYC and LA, just think of their famous foods. New York’s got coffee, cheesecake, bagels, street food and pastrami on rye; Los Angeles has smoothies, salads and lots of local ingredients – with some Latino influences and food fusions thrown in for good measure.

What’s more, the nightlife scenes in these cities could also not be more different. In New York, bars close at 4, happy hour’s the place to be, and there’s a bar for every mood, genre and culture. If you don’t like where you are, just walk a few feet into the next bar and see if it suits you better. Meanwhile, bars close at 2am in LA. And if you’re not having a good time, you’re kinda stuck because the next closest bar is not nearby. While clubs are definitely more happening than the bar scene, parties and after-parties are really where it’s at.

While we can appreciate the New York attitude, we have to respect that Angelenos know how to take care of themselves. Sorry, if this just pisses you off further, New Yorkers, but Round 4 goes to LA.

WINNER: New York 2 / Los Angeles 2

Round 5: Culture & Landmarks


Whether you’re dying to see world-famous pieces of art, or want to experience an up-an-coming artist; whether you want to visit a world-class library, or see a quaint bookshop; whether you want to take in a show on Broadway or at Radio City Music Hall, New York can offer you that and so much more.

Of course, visitors to the Big Apple seek more off-the-beaten-path experiences than visits to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal – although those are all worthwhile! Scope out some street art, head to Brooklyn Flea for fab vintage finds, or learn more about the city’s immigration history at the Tenement Museum. If you’re interested in some live entertainment, check out some burlesque, a drag show or some immersion theater. But, when in doubt, just get to know some of the many unique New York neighborhoods, like Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village, SoHo or TriBeCa.

Tourists flock to LA for all things celebrity: studio tours, tours of the stars’ homes, glimpses of stars as they dine, visits to favorite stars’ resting places. But if you only followed the Hollywood Walk of Fame or headed to Disneyland, you’d miss out on some unique experiences.

The Last Bookstore is a treat for ardent bibliophiles; the Museum of Death – while morbid – offers a fascinating assortment of info on serial killers. Try thinking fourth-dimensionally at Time Travel Mart, which markets itself as a convenience store for time travelers. Take a first-hand look at history by traveling through the tunnels beneath LA that were used during Prohibition. Or just drive through the mountains to marvel at the scenery!

While LA is home to “the Happiest Place on Earth,” it’s hard to beat the breadth of culture one can experience in a city like New York. Hey, what can we say except We Heart NY?

WINNER: New York 3 / Los Angeles 2


By a score of 3 to 2, New York proves why its nickname is “THE City.” While LA certainly put up a good fight, even the City of Angels couldn’t beat the Center of the Universe.

Do you agree with our choice? Don’t forget to battle it out in the comments, and for more patriotic versus battles be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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