What is the Difference Between New York City and New York State?

Most people get this, but it is something that often escapes people from outside of North America. When I go into Europe for business people ask me where I call home and I say, “New York”. Instantly they peg me up to be a resident of Manhattan, but I live 65 miles from there and lead an entirely different life. This is why I thought it important to cover this topic.

New York City is one of the most popular cities in the whole world. Densely populated, a hub of diversity, and full of opportunities, everyone has a certain image of the city in their minds. However, it might be surprising for some non-Americans when they realize that New York City and New York State are two different things. Yes, there is a relation, as New York City is quite literally part of the state of New York, but there are some key differences between the two. Let us take a look at them:

New York State Has Many Cities

The state of New York has many cities, and New York City is just one of them. Some other well-known counties and cities include Albany, Corning, Dunkirk, Ithaca, Long Beach, Nassau, Bronx, Niagara, Poughkeepsie, Troy, and Westchester.

Just because these cities and counties are part of the state of New York does not mean that there is too much in common between them. The media portrayal of New York City, where dreams come true, and people find opportunities, is just one part of the state. The other cities and counties in the state are very different from New York City. They do not have as many entertainment options or as much diversity as the city of New York. This is not to say that the other cities are not diverse or entertaining; they just do not hold a candle to the kind of life that the city of New York has to offer, which is a lot.

And one of the main reasons why the city of New York is so different from the rest of the state is to keep up with the media portrayal of the city. It has been hyped up in mainstream media for so many years. There are countless books, movies, and TV shows which sell the dream of New York City. They talk about how anyone who wants to make it big should make it to NYC, and they will find a way. The life of the city has been glamorized by shows such as Sex and the City and Friends, wildly popular shows that sold the fantasy of the city’s urban life.

Of course, mainstream media mainly talked about the city of New York and not the rest of the state. So no one says they will make their dreams come true in the city of Poughkeepsie because that’s just not what the world portrayed. On the other hand, these cities had no reason to keep up with the glamorization of New York by the world either. Therefore, it only made sense that the gap between New York City and the rest of the state was magnified to this extent.

Entertainment Options

When people visit NYC for the first time, there is so much to do on their list. They want to see all the iconic structures like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and even Central Park. Other than that, there are art galleries, culture centers, and much more. Someone or the other is performing in the city all the time, and some bars and nightclubs will make your weekends shine.

Even if you want to have fun on a weekday, there are so many options you can choose from. The food scene in New York City is also on another level. People from all different cultures and ethnicities live in New York City, so you can find all kinds of cuisine there. People are constantly experimenting with food, be it fast food, diners, or on a high-end restaurant level; you will always have a way to satiate your taste buds in NYC.

So, this is not to say that the rest of the state is boring, and there is nothing to do there. There are many things to do in the rest of New York State as well. There are museums, galleries, good food, and even a good nightlife in some of the places. However, the true charm of New York state outside of NYC lies in the outdoors. There is a lot of nature to be enjoyed in the rest of the state.

You can go hiking, paragliding, ride horses, and enjoy the simple life in many counties outside of New York City. So the rest of the state is not necessarily boring; the people there just find entertainment differently.

Opportunities And Pace

This is another feature of New York City that we can attribute to mainstream media. Every other movie, even those that are not based in Hollywood, talks about New York as the land of opportunities. You have excellent universities and institutions, along with the headquarters of some of the most well-known offices worldwide. This is why people believe when they make it to New York City, their lives will be made.

Because there are so many opportunities and so much work in the city of New York, life there is also very fast-paced. People are always on the go, jumping from one place to another. We have all heard of the small apartments that people live in within the city, and no, these tiny apartments do not bother them because they spend most of their time outside on the go. Even people with remote jobs prefer to do them from coffee shops or co-working spaces instead of from the confines of their own homes.

Even though there are some big offices and important buildings in the rest of the state as well, there is no doubt that life in the rest of the state is not as fast-paced as that in New York City. This does not mean that there are no opportunities or that people are always free; it just means that life in the rest of the state is much more laid-back. People go to work, come back, and relax. Many people find the city of New York overwhelming for exactly this reason as well. They come from relaxed places where they are not expected to be productive or do something all the time, and many people prefer it that way too.


All of us have seen the New York Skyline, if not in real life, then in pictures. We all know the giant buildings, the skyscrapers, and the people crammed into every small nook or cranny you can find in the city. The buildings are some of the most recognizable features of the city.

This is not the case with the rest of the state, though. There are some big buildings, some iconic buildings, and even some skyscrapers. But none of the other cities values their architecture made solely of giant buildings as much as the city of New York does.

Cost Of Living

One of the most interesting things about NYC is the cost of living. When someone says that you find all kinds of people in NYC, they are not joking. Even in terms of wealth. You will find a staggering number of people living below the poverty line in NYC; recent stats show that it is around 16%. However, you even find over a million millionaires and the most billionaires anywhere in the world in NYC as well.

The wealth gap between individuals is similar in the rest of the state as well. The richest county in the state is Nassau County, which is even more wealthy than the city of New York. You find cheaper living spaces in Western New York, so the cost of living varies throughout the rest of the state as well.


New York City is very culturally diverse. This is not new information either; most of us have known this for years now, thanks to the portrayal of the city in mainstream media. You find people of every social class, all different cultures and ethnicities, and even gender orientations in New York City. No one ever really feels alone in this city because everyone ends up finding someone who has a similar background or something that binds them together. You find diversity in the streets, in restaurants, and even in office spaces.

The rest of the state differs massively in this regard. The majority of the people living outside NYC in the state of New York are white. The cultural and ethnic diversity is not as broad as it is in NYC. So people in the rest of the state, especially when they are from cultural or ethnic minorities, might have a harder time fitting in.

This is Where I Live

This is where I live guys. It’s not overly glamorous. I coach my kids sports and I have dinner before 7pm every night. Probably should falsely claim that I live in the city, but that’s not me.


There are some major differences between the state and the city of New York, even though one is part of the other. It might be shocking for some people to realize that the state and the city of New York are not one and the same, but it is never too late to enhance your knowledge!

The McClain Family

We hope we helped. Please let us know of any place that you want to know about in NYS or if we did a poor job with any part of this. Our goal is to help as many people as possible.

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