The Bronx, to the north of Manhattan, is New York's fourth-largest borough, both in terms of area and population. Named after the Dutch colonial-era Bronck's Farm, it's a largely affordable haven from the sky-high rents in most of New York, but struggles to overcome its historically poor reputation.
There's more to The Bronx than you might think though. Yes it's home to one of the five poorest Congressional districts in the entire United States, but also includes the wealthy enclave of Riverdale. Popular attractions like Yankee Stadium, Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden bring a steady stream of visitors into the borough.
There's good subway coverage in many areas but, like Queens, there are areas where a car is a near-necessity. Commutes to Manhattan tend to be long.
A closer look
With lower rents than most of the city The Bronx is popular with renters on a budget.
Grand Concourse, with its large apartment buildings, shopping, and excellent subway access, is a major hub. In some ways it feels like an extension of upper Manhattan. It was based (at huge cost) on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and, while it might not quite have the same impact as its Parisian counterpart, it's a lively thoroughfare with a lot to recommend it.
Neighborhoods in The Bronx aren't always as well-defined in the other boroughs, maybe because there's less incentive for real estate agents to invent clever and trendy-sounding nicknames. Riverdale, however, is an exception. Directly north of Manhattan it boasts elegant (and expensive) housing, ranging from luxury apartments to mansions. Many feature sweeping views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. The Metro-North railroad does the journey from Riverdale to Midtown Manhattan in less time than it takes from some areas that are actually in Manhattan.
Other areas of the Bronx that are solid, safe, and (crucially) more affordable include Woodlawn (on the border of New York City and Westchester County), the quaint City Island and Little Italy.
Give the Bronx a chance if you have a tight budget or you want a place away from the noise and crowds of Manhattan. If you end up living elsewhere you should still pop up to New York's northernmost borough to visit the zoo and botanical gardens sometime.