Living in Murray Hill
Murray Hill is a real NYC neighborhood. Not many tourists ever come this way because there really isn't anything to see for the typical visitor who wants to see the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. The boundaries of Murray Hill are debatable, but generally you're talking from 42nd street to 34th street from Madison to the East River. Most would agree that it extends further down into the twenties. Third Avenue is filled with restaurants and bars. The Development of the East River waterfront continues to get better and if you like a young professional NYC atmosphere this is the place for you.
Murray Hill is typical of housing in New York City. There are the luxury building where you can pay two to three thousand dollars a month for rent (studio/one bedroom) with a doorman, elevator, and a garage (the garage is extra!) Or the other options are the pre-war walk-ups (that's stairs ladies and gentlemen). A lot more charm and personality, but more run down. If you choose the latter your more likely to run into real local New Yorkers who have been here long before the young yuppie takeover. You can find townhouses here as well. Either way housing in Murray Hill is pretty good and little cheaper than most other Manhattan neighborhoods. It can get noisy on Third Avenue with all the bars and restaurants, so beware, unless you like that sort of thing.
If you're a young professional looking to make your way in NYC and have fun doing it then Murray Hill is the place for you. There are lots of single, well groomed young people with new careers and typical American attitudes and tastes in this area. You're not going to find trendsetters or hipsters here. Many residents come from Long Island and the suburbs of Jersey so there is a slight bitchiness factor and dullness. Of course there are gay people, but no real scene. When you think of Murray Hill in regards to people, think of the T.V. show Friends, Adam Sandler, and fraternities and sororities. Yeah it's a little boring and dull, but everybody seems to like it anyway. As mentioned, there are still plenty of long-term residents mixed into the fray.
Like many neighborhoods in Manhattan, Murray Hill has been very safe for a while now. You can wander the streets late at night and there are really no 'shady' areas left. Your safer here than most places and the cops respond quickly when a call comes in. Murray Hill is probably one of the safest neighborhoods in the city.
Parks and Recreation
There are not many parks around, but it seems not to really matter here. There are plenty of places to sit and who has time to look at a small patch of grass when you out partying and working? There are however plenty of gyms. Crunch, New York Sports Club and others. There is also the East River, which has great views of Brooklyn, nice places to sit, and decent landscaping for those days when you want to get away from the bustle (you just have to ignore the FDR Drive).
If you venture further down the East side you'll find a full size Astroturf soccer field with a very nice outdoor track. This is public and is well kept. I highly recommend it. There are plenty of places to workout, run and escape the city, but don't bother looking for that Central Park lost in the woods kind of thing. This neighborhood is city, not a neighborhood trying to be a suburb.
Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment
On of Murray Hill's strong points is the ability to find almost anything you could want in the area or a short train ride away. If you want to get some downtown flavor take the 6 train a few stops to the East Village (or go even further to the Lower East Side). If you want to stay local there are plenty of bars and restaurants on Third Avenue. Irish American, dark mini clubs, and sports bars are all here and they are all packed on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Kips Bay movie theater is one of the biggest and plushest around playing all the new titles. You can even get your country-western groove on at Rodeo Bar where there are peanut shells on the floor and bluegrass/country bands. Murray Hill has a great nightlife, but if you're looking for something that is hardcore NYC, ultra trendy, slightly bizarre, with new music and attitudes you will have to travel somewhere else.
Shopping and Eating
Murray Hill has practically every store, bank, and necessity you can think of. 34th and 42nd street have all the name brands you want. Banana Republic, Express, H&M and local discount stores. A variety of banks form Capitol One, Chase, Bank of America and TD are represented (there are more). There is stretch on Park Avenue called 'Furniture Row' where basically you can get all different types of furniture from the name brands to local designers. A 24-hour hardware store opened just a while ago in case you need that 3am screwdriver or mixing bowl.
There are plenty of all night old fashioned dinners and upscale delis so you never have to worry about takeout food either. There is every cuisine available in Murray Hill from Turkish to Thai and at every price range. For a late night slice of real NYC pizza head to Pizza 33, one of the best in the city. A real gem also is Curry Hill which is made up of a couple of streets in the high 20's packed with authentic Indian food including 'Curry in a Hurry' which is cheap and good. There are also plenty of 24-hour delis and diners around for late night munchies or booze. The Patty Melt at the Gemini Diner has been rocking as well lately. Just don't expect to find many trendy boutique stores and coffee houses like you would find in the Village.
In the Hill you have the 6-train subway running 24 hours seven days a week (all NYC subways are 24/7). Unlike the west side, which has more than one subway line, the 6-train is the only option on the east side but it does run regularly and is very reliable. It's cleaner and safer than most other trains as well. To get cross-town you can take the 7-subway train at Grand Central Station, which is a beautiful to look at as well.
There are also plenty of buses. The 34th street and 42nd street bus can take you cross-town to the west side and there are a couple of avenue lines that can take you up and down Manhattan. Just beware that traffic can make the daily commute on these buses very annoying and tedious. If you're driving, the Queens midtown tunnel is right in your backyard as well as the FDR Drive which is one of the main highways in the city. Parking in this neighborhood (like all Manhattan neighborhoods) is a disaster. You can get a garage space, but that will run you $275.00/month and up. Beware, if you want to live near the water but plan to use the 6-train to get around, you're in store for a long walk!