New Orleans is a city rich in history and culture, and filled with life, colour and vibrancy. But as with any destination, life in the city comes with its downsides too. In order to make a well-informed decision, prospective residents should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of moving to New Orleans before taking the plunge.
Below are some of our insights into the main benefits and constraints of life in New Orleans.
Accommodation in New Orleans
+ PRO: Accommodation is affordable
Property prices in New Orleans are reasonable and the market is on an upward trajectory which means this is a great place to invest in a home. Property taxes in New Orleans are significantly less than the USA’s national average. The majority of residents rent rather than buy property, and rental rates are quite affordable.
- CON: Limited real estate options and lots of hidden expenses to consider
While the cost of property is affordable further away from the downtown area, those looking to live close to the action do have to pay disproportionately more as a result of demand for accommodation among tourists. As crime rates are particularly high in some suburbs, residents will have to take in the cost of insurance premiums. The city’s susceptibility to flooding means that it’s also wise to take out flood insurance to protect one’s home.
Working in New Orleans
- CON: Economy lags behind other US cities
Despite the fact that Hurricane Katrina occured over a decade ago, the devastating impact that it had on the New Orleans economy can’t be underestimated. Pre-Katrina, the city’s economy was dynamic and vibrant but to this day New Orleans remains in recovery mode. Unemployment is still higher than the national average and average wages here remain low.
+ PRO: Lots of potential for growth
While the economy of New Orleans may lag behind those of other major US cities, the city has shown an impressive resilience and certain industries such as tourism have been drivers in its economic recovery. The incentives offered by the state of Louisiana have also made New Orleans a great place for setting up a new business and many entrepreneurs see value in starting their operations in the city.
Cost of living in New Orleans
+ PRO: Affordable cost of living
Mostly as a result of the exodus of residents out of the city after Hurricane Katrina, the real-estate market in New Orleans has become incredibly competitive. It is possible to live comfortably in the city for a fraction of the cost residents pay in similar metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.
- CON: There are some socio-economic issues
New Orleans has its fair share of socio-economic problems that can’t be overlooked. Poverty is widespread and the wealth gap is pretty apparent. Crime rates are high in parts of the city as a result of this, so new residents can expect to pay higher insurance premiums to protect their property.
Lifestyle in New Orleans
+ PRO: A foodie's dream
Visitors from all over the world rave about New Orleans's soul food, and new residents of the city will find plenty of delicious treats to satiate even the greatest of appetites. From legendary beignets at Cafe du Monde to those famous po’boys and fried chicken, New Orleans takes gastronomy seriously.
+ PRO: Festivals galore
For those who love to party, New Orleans is the place to be as residents are treated to an exciting line-up of events each year. The city is perhaps most renowned for its famous Mardi Gras, but it has plenty of other exciting happenings going on that new arrivals will not want to miss. From French culture and oysters, to bourbon and beer, there are celebrations to suit an array of individual tastes.
- CON: Things happen slowly
Of course, the slower pace of life with its physical and emotional benefits are a major draw for new residents of New Orleans, but those moving from more fast-paced cities may struggle at first. Everything takes a little longer in New Orleans. Whether it’s the relaxed pace of service at a restaurant or public transport delays, new arrivals will need to lower their expectations and embrace the slow charm of the city when it comes to getting things done.
Weather in New Orleans
- CON: Bugs everywhere
The climate in Louisiana gives rise to a large population of creepy crawlies that new residents will take some time getting used to. Pests include the buck moth caterpillar, which regularly falls out of oak trees and can cause nasty stings, as well as brown recluse spiders and fire ants.
- CON: Frequent rain and flooding
No matter what the season, it’s best to be prepared for rain in New Orleans. The city’s low elevation makes it vulnerable to flooding, especially in the city centre. This is something worth factoring in when deciding where to live in the city.
► Learn more about the benefits of living here on our Lifestyle in New Orleans page
Are you an expat living in New Orleans?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to New Orleans. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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