New York : Safety by City
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No trip to the United States is complete without seeing New York.
Home to the legendary New York City, the Empire State continuously ranks among the top travel destinations in the country.
New York offers a little bit of everything; from the beaches dotted with distinctly East Coast Houses on Long Island, the rivers and hills in upstate New York, and the excitement of the Big Apple’s cultural and culinary dominance, there is so much to do in every corner of the state.
If you’re curious to see for yourself what makes the Empire State so great, then check out this list of anything you may need to look out for to ensure your time is as safe as possible before booking your trip.
Warnings & Dangers in New York
OVERALL RISK : LOW
New York – and New York City in particular – have a bit of an undeserved reputation for being unsafe. However, you should know that it is a perfectly safe travel destination, and New York City ranked as the world’s 12th safest city according to The Economist. Like anywhere you go, exercise increased vigilance in places that aren’t familiar to you, and you should be just fine.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Taxis, ridesharing apps, and public transportation are perfectly safe in New York. Like anywhere else, just be mindful of your surroundings and your property. While the subway in New York City runs 24/7 and is a safe travel option, it is best avoided late at night and early in the morning, especially if you are by yourself. When riding in taxis, ride in the back seat and keep windows open if possible.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
While pickpocketing does happen, especially in urban areas, it isn’t something you need to spend time worrying about. Just stay mindful of your surroundings and property, don’t flash valuable items, and don’t leave your bags and belongings unattended.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Weather in New York can be unpredictable and sometimes even violent. Winters are subject to severe snowstorms, while Summers and Falls see their share of tropical storms, flash floods, and hurricanes. Monitor weather closely during your trip and stay indoors during severe weather watches and warnings.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
New York’s urban areas are very safe, and armed robberies are rare. With that being said, like anywhere else, don’t walk late at night, and stay close to other people whenever possible.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The tragic September 11 attacks are still very fresh in New York’s collective memory. Because of this, New York’s law enforcement has devoted large amounts of training, funds, and infrastructure to counterterrorism efforts. When you travel to New York, you can have the ease of mind that you are under the protection of one of the most prepared states in the country.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Panhandlers and scammers are a problem wherever you go in the world, and they are all over New York City’s downtown and touristy areas. Fortunately, the scammers you will encounter are harmless, and they can be avoided by not engaging in conversations with strangers. Just go about your business, and you will be fine.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
By following basic safety and precautionary measures, women solo travelers should feel perfectly safe traveling through New York.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
New York’s tap water is well-treated and heavily regulated, especially in New York City. You should have no worries about drinking or using it.
Safest Places to Visit in New York
Since New York City ranks among the safest cities in the world, you should have no worries about spending some time in this world-class metropolis.
While it has some areas that should be avoided, just like every city, those should not deter you from experiencing the museums, theater, food, and legendary nightlife the city has to offer.
Once you get enough of the city, however, you can find towns on Long Island like East Hampton and Port Washington that are as safe as they are pristine and beautiful.
Once you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle of New York City, you can venture out to these peaceful beach towns for some lobster rolls and relaxation.
Places to Avoid in New York
While New York has some of the safest and most beautiful areas in the country, like everywhere else, it has its fair share of spots that should be avoided.
Albany, Erie, and Greene Counties have violent crime rates that are above the national average, and they are best avoided on your travels.
When it comes to cities and urban areas throughout the state, you should also keep in mind that these too have neighborhoods you should avoid.
For example, crime rates in New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, and East Harlem neighborhoods all have petty and violent crime rates that are above the state average.
Fortunately for travelers, these neighborhoods are out of the way from the city’s tourism and commercial hubs.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New York
- If you choose to visit or stay in cities like New York, please keep in mind the safety concerns that each neighborhood provides. New York’s cities are generally safe but making the wrong turn can put you in danger.
- New York has some wonderful areas and cities to enjoy, especially on the coast, but traveling during times of extreme weather can land you and your trip in trouble. It’s best to go to New York in the spring to avoid dealing with hurricanes, tropical storms, and snowstorms. To be safe, monitor the weather closely before your trip, and pay attention to severe weather warnings.
- Especially for women solo travelers, don’t walk alone at night, and plan your routes ahead of time so you don’t accidentally wander into dangerous areas.
- Keep an eye on the weather. Since the weather in New York can change quickly and is known for its extremes in the late summer and winter months, the weather can be an obstacle for you. If you plan on staying in the coastal areas of the state, be prepared for potential storms, especially in the latter half of the year.
- Safeguard your hotel room. This is a basic precaution for wherever you go, but it’s an important one to remember. Lock and bolt your door, make sure your windows are locked before you leave the room and go to sleep, and keep your valuables and important documents in a safe.
- Be aware of your surroundings. While the risk of being a victim of a crime is low in New York, it is never impossible. Be aware of suspicious behavior, keep an eye on your belongings, and if possible, don’t wander alone.
- Ask locals for advice. Despite the stereotype New Yorkers have, you’ll find that the Empire State’s residents are warm and welcoming, so you shouldn’t be worried about asking them for advice or directions. They have first-hand knowledge of the area, and they should always be considered a source for help if you need it.
- Don’t draw too much attention to yourself. Whether you’re leaving your hotel room in flashy, expensive clothing or being too rowdy on a night out, making yourself a target in unfamiliar territory is never a good idea.
- Tell your bank where you’re going and when. A good bank knows to flag your account for suspicious activity if it suddenly sees activity in a foreign country, and this can prevent you from accessing money, which can be terrifying during an emergency. To avoid long phone calls to clear transactions with your bank, let them know ahead of time about your travels.
- Last but not least, buy travel insurance. Most worst-case scenarios you will encounter while traveling can be covered by biting the bullet and buying travel insurance before your trip. You really can’t put a price on ease of mind.
So... How Safe Is New York Really?
New York is a perfectly safe travel destination, and no travel itinerary to the United States is complete without stopping here.
Although a select few of the state’s counties and towns are best avoided, they do not offer the same excitement to tourists that New York City and the gorgeous spots upstate and on Long Island do.
The biggest thing you can do for your safety is to avoid traveling to New York during months when severe weather is common.
As for the rest of the state, just remember the safety tips mentioned in the list above, keep your wits about you, and you should be just fine.
Stay out of dimly lit areas, don’t accept any unsolicited help or items from strangers, and don’t leave the hotel with any important documents unless it’s necessary.
If you keep these in mind, your trip to New York is sure to be a safe and pleasant one.
The locations in New York can weave a confusing batch of names, like town, city, village, or hamlet. Several instances occur where a town and a city share a name. The similarly named locations can have one surrounding the other, or they can be adjacent. For example, the town of Rye and the city of Rye are next to each other, while the town of Rye has several villages.
A town is not necessarily smaller or bigger than a city. Cities will usually have their own services, like law enforcement, whereas a town might have its own services or rely on county resources. Hamlets and villages will be located within a town or a city.
How Does New York Compare?
- Visas - Unless your home country is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa before traveling to the United States. Typically, travelers will require either a B-1 visa if they are traveling for business or a B-2 visa if they are traveling for leisure. Please consult usembassy.gov for specific requirements for traveling to the United States from your home country.
- Currency - Like most countries, the best way to exchange currency upon arrival in the United States is through a currency exchange desk at the airport. The three airports that service New York City (LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark) all have Travelex offices where you can exchange your home currency for U.S. dollars.
- Weather - New York’s weather can vary wildly depending on when you choose to travel. Winters are often cold and snowy, while summers in New York City can be humid and unbearable. Fall and Spring spring, however, are both beautiful and mild throughout the state, but if you are traveling in the summer, it’s best to hit Upstate New York and Long Island rather than the Big Apple.
- Airports - If you are flying into New York State from overseas, then you are probably going to fly into one of the three airports that service New York City: LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark, even if your final destination is elsewhere. All three of these airports are massive, but they are easy to navigate and are all serviced by taxis regularly 24/7.
- Travel Insurance - Accidents can and do happen. The best way to protect yourself wherever you travel is to buy travel insurance. This way, you can enjoy the ease of mind if you choose to cancel your trip or if something should happen while you are traveling.