New Orleans is a city rich in history and culture, and filled with life, colour and vibrancy. But as with any destination, life in NOLA 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 the Crescent City.
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 NOLA 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 wise to take out flood insurance to protect one’s home.
Working in New Orleans
- Con: The economy of New Orleans is still lagging behind other US cities
Despite happening over a decade ago, the devastating impact that Hurricane Katrina 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 in NOLA remain low.
+ Pro: It shows lots of potential for growth and looks like a great incubator for start-ups
While NOLA’s economy 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 starting a new business and many entrepreneurs have see value in starting their operations in the city.
Cost of living in New Orleans
+ Pro: It’s an affordable place to live
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 Crescent City for a fraction of the cost residents pay in similar metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.
- Con: NOLA has its socio-economic issues
New Orleans has its fair share of socio-economic problems that can’t be overlooked. Poverty is high 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: NOLA is a foodie’s dream
Visitors from all over the world rave about New Orleans's soul food, and new residents of the Crescent City will find plenty of delicious treats to satiate even the greatest of appetites. From legendary beignets at Cafe du Monde to those famous NOLA po’boys and fried chicken, New Orleans takes gastronomy seriously.
+ Pro: Festivals galore
For those that love to party, New Orleans is the place to be. NOLA residents are treated to an exciting line-up of annual events. The city is perhaps most renowned for its famous Mardi Gras, but it has plenty else going on throughout the year. From French culture and oysters, to bourbon and beer, there are celebrations to suit an array of individual tastes.
- Con: New arrivals need to get used to a slower pace of life
Of course, the slower pace of life with its physical and emotional benefits are a major draw for new residents of NOLA, 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 NOLA 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, brown recluse spiders and fire ants.
- Con: Rain is a consistent issue throughout the year and NOLA is prone to 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 in NOLA 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.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.