The Ultimate Guide to Moving to New Orleans

Thinking about moving down to the Big Easy? Check out Jerry’s guide for everything you need to know before you go.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Considering making the move down south to New Orleans? If you don’t mind hot (and we mean hot) summers, a noisy nightlife scene, and a high volume of tourists—it might just be your ideal new home.
New Orleans is hands down one of the most culturally distinct cities in the United States. Nearly 18 million people every year make the trip down to this city along the Louisiana stretch of the Mississippi river to eat delicious Cajun food, hear live music on the streets, and (of course) grab a cocktail on Bourbon Street during Mardis Gras. 
Sure, New Orleans is famous for its nightlife, but that doesn’t mean that life in the Big Easy is just one nonstop party. Here to guide you through what you need to know about New Orleans before you move is
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What you need to know about New Orleans before you move 

There are 1,005,000 people that call the Paris of the South home. New Orleans is right on the banks of the Mississippi river and a mere 6.5 feet above sea level—a precarious spot for a city to sit. In fact, when it was first colonized by the French in 1718, many doubted that it would survive the torrential hurricanes that plagued the area. Nevertheless, the heart of New Orleans beat on. 

1. It’s the most expensive city in Louisiana—but still has a cost of living below the national average  

One of the first things you should consider when moving to a new move to a new place is whether it's expensive to live there. For New Orleans, it depends if you’re comparing it to the national or state level.  
The cost of living index (COLI) for the United States as a whole is an even 100—meaning any city or state with a COLI of less than 100 is considered cheaper to live in, while a COLI over 100 is more expensive. New Orleans’ cost of living index is 96.3, making it cheaper than many other places in the country, but it is above the overall Louisiana COLI of 86.9
Rent in New Orleans varies dramatically depending on the neighborhood. Average rent hovers around $1,279 per month for 893 square feet, but desirable neighborhoods like Marigny see rents around $2,105 per month. But if you opt for a neighborhood more on the outskirts of the city, like Read Boulevard, you’d pay an average of just $818 per month for a one-bedroom. 
Other standard costs are on par with many big cities in the country—if not a little lower. A beer will cost you a cheap $4.80, but one of those famed Bourbon Street cocktails is nearly triple the price at $13. If you commute downtown to an office, your weekday burrito or salad to go will cost you about $16 a pop. 
To keep up with rising cost of living, New Orleans raised their minimum wage at the end of 2021 to a healthy $15 an hour. Or, if you’re a salaried worker, the median city salary is $43,258. 

2. It’s a “port-y” city 

Okay, if you can look past the terrible pun you’ll see our point: although parties (read: tourism) bring in an average of $5 billion a year to the local economy and constitutes about 70,000 jobs, New Orleans is still a port city—something that heavily influences the job market. 
Shipping, shipbuilding, oil, and aerospace manufacturing—along, naturally, with tourism—are some of the Big Easy’s largest industries. Little known fact: New Orleans is home to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility! 

3. Crime is….pretty high. Keep your wits about you. 

Unfortunately, New Orleans was named the
most murderous
city at the midpoint of 2022. If you take a look at this
Crime Map from NOPD
, you’ll get a better sense of where crime is concentrated in the city. 
And, to add insult to injury, property crime is also significantly higher than average. The US average crime score according to is 35.4. New Orleans score? A staggering 56.8. 
We know these are some pretty scary statistics, but if you keep your wits about you and use common sense, you’ll be completely fine. 

4. Single-person households are on the rise 

Only 23% of New Orleans households have kids. In fact, over the past few years, single-person households have been one of the city’s fastest-growing demographics. 
But great news for dog owners: New Orleans was ranked the 10th most dog-friendly city in the entire country! With ample dog parks throughout the city and many restaurants and cafés offering pet-friendly seating, you and your pup won’t run out of activities. 

5. There’s public transportation available, but most people rely on their cars

There are tons of ways to get around New Orleans without a car: streetcars, buses, ferries, bikes, and your own two feet. The streetcars and buses cost just $1.25 for a one-way ticket and are a convenient way for locals and tourists alike to get around downtown New Orleans. 
If you’re sticking to just the French Quarter and its surrounding neighborhoods, you could easily get by in New Orleans without a car. But, if you need to get into the city from the outer boroughs, you’ll definitely need your car. Keep in mind,
traffic in New Orleans
can be rough—New Orleans was ranked the ninth-worst city for traffic. 

6. Be prepared for some hot summers 

Summers in New Orleans are hota nd humid. The warm weather begins in May, and it stays warm until the end of September—with temperatures ranging in the upper 80s and 90s. Oh, and in July and August, the humidity is usually a stifling 98%. 
The months of November to January see much milder temperatures, usually between 48F and 64F. 

7. It’s not pronounced “Naw-lins”

Despite what you have heard or seen in the movies—if you move from out of town and immediately start pronouncing it “Naw-lins,” you may be mocked. Sure, some locals may pronounce it that way, but largely, it’s pronounced “New OR-lins.” 
No matter how you say it, try to avoid “New Or-LEENZ.” That, more than any other pronunciation, will mark you as an out-of-towner.

Does New Orleans live up to its stereotypes? 

New Orleans might be well-known for its swinging nightlife and delectable cocktails, but that doesn’t mean that everyone spends all their time in bars. With two major parks and 200 smaller green areas, the city also has lots of green leafy spaces to enjoy. 
In terms of culture, you won’t be disappointed if you move to New Orleans—the city’s rich culture is just as incredible as it is cracked up to be. 
And, keep in mind that Carnival happens only once a year—don’t wear your beads outside of Mardi Gras.

Finding a place to live in New Orleans 

Decided to take the plunge and set down roots in New Orleans? The next thing on your list is to find a place to live. You’ll find that New Orleans is pretty evenly split when it comes to renters versus homeowners: 52% of people in New Orleans rent, and 48% own homes. 
Home listing prices in New Orleans have gone up 6.3% since last year with the median home listing currently sitting at $381,500. And, like many other cities in the country, rent in New Orleans has also gone up in recent years. The citywide average rent for a studio apartment is now $1,400, and a one-bedroom will take a bigger bite out of your budget at $1,545 a month
We said it before, but we can’t emphasize it enough, what you pay for rent depends on which neighborhood you live in. And, if you’re not familiar with New Orleans 71 neighborhoods, here are a couple of standouts:
  • Most iconic neighborhoods: French Quarter, Warehouse District, Garden District 
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Algiers Point, Bayou St. John, East Carrollton
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: French Quarter, Garden District, Carrollton 
  • Best neighborhoods if you want to keep your car: Central Business District and Lower Garden District 
  • Most affordable neighborhoods in New Orleans: Read Boulevard, Little Woods, Venetian Isles 

Moving to New Orleans checklist 

Once you’ve chosen a neighborhood, put down your deposit, and alert your loved ones, it’s time to start planning your move down the Big Easy. Follow our checklists to help keep the move manageable and within your budget. 

Before you go 

  • If you plan on bringing a lot of furniture with you, hire movers to help with the heavy lifting. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, rent a U-Haul and try doing the move yourself! 
  • Carefully pack your belongings—and consider cashing in some favors with friends who you helped move in the past. 
  • Notify your landlord, employer, utility company, and insurance provider that you’re moving. 
  • If you're moving from far away, consider
    shipping your car
    down to New Orleans 

After you get there

  • Update your insurance policy and
    register your car
    if you moved from out of state. 
  • If you’re renting, get yourself some renters insurance to protect your belongings and your budget.  
  • Update your mailing address, voter registration, and healthcare information. 
  • Get out and explore your new neighborhood! Find your new favorite café, route to work, and the best place to get a po’boy sandwich. 

How to save money on car, renters, and home insurance in New Orleans 

Whether you’re renting an apartment or buying a home; bringing your car or planning on hoofing it—-Jerry can find you the best
New Orleans insurance
. Plus, Jerry can help you
your policies for maximum savings! 
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We can’t tell you what’s best for you—but we can help point you in the right direction. If you’re looking for a city with mild summers, a mellow vibe, and few tourist crowds, New Orleans probably isn’t the right city for you. But, if you can stand the heat and are willing to push your way through throngs of people during the busy tourist season, you’ll be rewarded with life in one of the country’s most culturally rich cities.
It depends on where you’re moving from and whether or not you opt to use movers. Although movers do make the whole process easier, they can cost up to several thousand dollars. But, once you’re there, it’s estimated that you’ll need about $1,033 each month for other expenses not including rent.
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