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Moving to New Orleans

Unique, offbeat and colourful in more than one sense, New Orleans is fast becoming a top destination for both holidaymakers and people looking to relocate for a more long-term adventure. Music, arts and celebration are its lifeblood and contribute to New Orleans's international allure. From its famed soul food and festival culture to its eclectic art scene and distinctive architecture, New Orleans is a destination that is just waiting to be explored.

Located along the banks of the Mississippi River in the southern state of Louisiana, the city has historically served as a prominent trading port and is steadily developing into a flourishing economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the USA. New Orleans is a city of many names – the Crescent City, NOLA and the ‘Big Easy’ are just of a few of the terms locals like to use. 

La Nouvelle-Orleans, as it was known before the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, had once been home to communities of Native Americans, French, Spanish and enslaved West Africans. The legacy of this rich, diverse history is evident in all aspects of life in New Orleans. From its arts and culture scene to the food and world-famous musical offerings, its storied past truly allows New Orleans to stand out from the crowd.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans with severe flooding causing destruction to over 80 percent of the city. Thousands of residents either lost their lives or were displaced as a result and New Orleans’s overall population declined by almost 50 percent. The hurricane also took its toll on the city’s economy by causing interruption to the oil supply and exports of key commodities such as cotton. 

Over a decade later, the Crescent City has experienced quite the turnaround. Redevelopment efforts and investment from local and national government have resulted in a rebound in the city’s population. But this transformation has not been without its issues and New Orleans continues to suffer from significant socioeconomic issues. 

That said, economic growth has brought with it lots of new jobs and business opportunities. Government incentives have successfully lured companies to the city, many of which are enticed by the low operation costs in New Orleans as well as the lifestyle benefits NOLA offers prospective employees. 

Historically known for being the ‘home of jazz’, music and entertainment are the at the forefront of New Orleans. This is a city that knows how to have fun with bars, clubs and live music venues lining the streets. And if its events a person is after, then NOLA is the place to be. 

Another major draw for New Orleans is that it offers residents a great quality of life at an affordable price. Rental rates and the general cost of living in NOLA are reasonable in comparison to national averages in the USA and the city boasts an impressive array of properties that provide good value for money. While New Orleans may not compare to more established cities such as New York and San Francisco when it comes to sophisticated public transport networks, its offerings are fairly solid and while having a car offers certain freedoms it is by no means essential.

Those moving to New Orleans with children will be pleased to learn that the city has seen tremendous improvements to its public schooling system in the post-Katrina period especially with the increase in the number of charter schools. The city is also building a reputation as a bit of a healthcare hub so prospective residents can rest-assured that their medical needs will be well-catered for. 

As with any city, life in New Orleans does have its downsides which are important to be aware of when pondering the prospecting of relocating. The weather in the city can be difficult to deal with at times and while the redevelopment in the city has certainly been quite remarkable, New Orleans still has some way to go before it really reaches its full potential. 

That said, the benefits of living in New Orleans do outweigh the pitfalls which is demonstrated by the increasing number of people choosing to relocate to the city. Ultimately, anyone moving to city with a sense of adventure and desire to be exposed to a unique blend of fascinating cultures is sure to have a wonderfully rich experience in the Crescent City. 

Weather in New Orleans

New Orleans has a humid subtropical climate featuring short, generally mild winters and hot humid summers. 

The weather in New Orleans is known to change rapidly and it's always important to be prepared. Rainfall is likely at any time of year, so it’s always best to have an umbrella to hand. Humidity is also a prominent feature of the Crescent City’s climate. It is said to be the US city with the highest relative humidity and it's quite noticeable how muggy the city can get. 

Summers in New Orleans, especially July and August, are hot and steamy. The humidity can be quite brutal and new arrivals will truly appreciate the value of having a good air-conditioning system during this season. Rainfall is common with tropical storms known to cause havoc in the city. The wet weather also gives rise to increased numbers of bugs and mosquitos so it's best to be armed with repellent at all times. 

Winters, although relatively mild, can be unpredictable. One minute it can be overcast and fairly chilly and the next there will be bright sunshine. However, generally speaking, the months from December to February are cooler. Temperatures range from lows of 44°F(7°C) to average highs of 65°F(18°C). As mentioned, rain fall throughout the year, but in the winter this can turn to sleet, which isn’t particularly pleasant. 

One weather hazard that new residents should be aware of when moving to New Orleans is hurricane season, which runs from June to November. When hurricanes occur in the city they bring with them high winds, tornados and severe flooding. The devastation that Hurricane Katrina wreaked in New Orleans is well documented, and resulted in virtually the whole city having to be reconstructed.


Pros and Cons of Moving to New Orleans

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. 

Working in New Orleans

As the largest city in the US state of Louisiana and one of the largest cities in the American South, New Orleans has historically been a major port of entry to the county. This partly accounts for its continued status as a significant player in international trade. In terms of import, coffee, sugar and bananas are big business whereas the export sector is dominated by rice, cotton, corn, oil and petrochemicals. 

Beyond its historic prominence as a port, New Orleans boasts a surprisingly diverse economy. Other important sectors driving the Crescent City’s economy include energy, manufacturing, healthcare, education and tourism. Some of the notable employers operating in New Orleans include Ochsner Health Systems, Whitney Holding Corp, Boh Bros Construction and Superior Energy Services, the Entergy Corporation and the internationally-renowned Tulane University. 

Tourism and related hospitality industries have played a notable role in the city’s economy in recent history. In fact, the income generated by visitors to the city largely led the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery. It is estimated that tourism contributes around USD 9 billion per year to NOLA’s economy. 

Job market in New Orleans

The job market in New Orleans is fairly robust and has shown impressive recovery since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. That said, unemployment remains higher than the national average in New Orleans. Prospective residents of the Crescent City should not be put off though, as job opportunities are available for those with a background in particular industries. 

Those with skills and experience in the education and healthcare sectors will find plenty of exciting career prospects in New Orleans as these areas, in particular, have shown a remarkable capacity for growth. With the recent upturn in the New Orleans property market, its construction industry is also flourishing in the city. 

Increasing numbers of businesses are also seeing the value in establishing operations in New Orleans because of the low costs as well as various incentives offered by the local government. In addition, the presence of good universities in the area means that these businesses have easy access to a pool of educated workers. 

Work culture in New Orleans

The reason so many people from within the USA and overseas are attracted to New Orleans is because of the lifestyle opportunities and favourable cost of living. Businesses here understand that and try to take steps to ensure that their employees are able to strike a good work-life balance. 

Naturally, work culture varies from one sector to the next as well as between individual companies. Generally speaking, the big corporations operating in New Orleans are known to offer talented employees great benefits packages including transport allowances and contributions towards medical insurance as well as opportunities for training and subsequent career progression.

Local government in Louisiana have also offered lots of support to small businesses looking to set themselves up in New Orleans. As such, the city has become a popular place for start-ups. Employees at these smaller enterprises benefit from greater flexibility in terms of opportunities to work from home, Flexi-time and the option of job sharing. 

Cost of Living in New Orleans

It’s wise for any prospective resident to draw up a budget and try to predict their monthly expenditure before relocating to New Orleans to establish whether the move will make financial sense.

As a city that is still in recovery from the physical and economic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the cost of living in New Orleans is affordable when compared to the average for the US. In the end, a favourable cost of living teamed with the wealth of lifestyle benefits and quality of life make the Crescent City a big drawcard for citizens from elsewhere in the US and expats alike. 

Depending on the sector, opportunities for career progression can be really good in New Orleans, even if wage growth is fairly slow compared to that in more dynamic economies. It is important to consider living expenses alongside job opportunities, lifestyle preference and family situation when looking into the option of moving to NOLA.

Cost of accommodation in New Orleans

Accommodation often forms the largest portion of a new arrival's budget when relocating, but thankfully the cost of renting accommodation in New Orleans is pretty affordable. In fact, despite being around 10 percent higher than the Louisiana average, it is still about 25 percent cheaper than the US national average. Those relocating from other prominent metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco or Austin will certainly notice a massive saving.

While the majority of new NOLA residents opt to rent rather than buy property, the city has great investment potential, especially for those looking to buy in the downtown area. In addition to its steadily growing resident population, New Orleans is a hugely popular tourist hotspot so having a holiday rental here can be quite lucrative. 

Cost of eating out and entertainment in New Orleans

New Orleans is known the world over for being a party city but thankfully having a good time in the Crescent City doesn’t need to cost the earth. With annual events alongside the city’s vibrant nightlife offerings in the form of bars, restaurants and live music venues, new residents are sure to have a wonderful time getting acquainted with their new home.

When it comes to eating out, New Orleans is a dream. While gastronomy enthusiasts will certainly have the opportunity to indulge in fine-dining experiences, what New Orleans is undoubtedly known for is its Southern soul food – hearty portions of humble dishes such as jambalaya and gumbo served at reasonable prices. New arrivals will soon see that it's easy to eat out in NOLA without having to fork out a small fortune. 

Cost of transport in New Orleans

While the Crescent City has better public transport than many other major cities in the South, getting around in New Orleans doesn’t come cheap. In fact, transport costs in NOLA are significantly higher than both the Louisiana state average and the national average for the US. 

And while having a car isn’t essential, it certainly makes life easier and will help new arrivals get acquainted with the city. A personal vehicle is particularly useful for those who don't live close to the central parts of New Orleans. 

Cost of schooling in New Orleans

Those moving to New Orleans with children will, of course, need to consider the cost of schooling, much of which will depend on specific schools. 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the public schooling system in New Orleans experienced some major restructuring. As a result, a system plagued by underfunding and low staff retention levels saw an impressive transformation with the rise in the number of charter schools. New arrivals to the city will, therefore, find there are several excellent public schooling options that come at little to no cost. 

There are also a large number of private schools in the city and a small handful of international schools. These schools are believed to offer greater opportunities and a higher standard of teaching, but at a cost. While the fees of private education are generally known to be high, tuition at private schools in New Orleans are slightly more affordable on average than in other US cities. 

Louisiana’s state government has also made good provisions to support students with special needs or disabilities at no extra financial cost to their families. 

Cost of healthcare in New Orleans

New Orleans is becoming noticed as a bit of a healthcare hub for the South and new residents can rest assured that their medical needs and those of their family will be well taken care of here. That said, as is the case throughout the US, to access the better healthcare facilities residents will need to be in possession of a comprehensive medical insurance policy. 

Those who are being relocated to New Orleans for work should negotiate some sort of healthcare allowance into their employment contract as this is likely to offer a significant saving in an individual's monthly budget. 

Cost of living in New Orleans chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for New Orleans in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,440

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,060

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,360

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,500


Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.12

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.17

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.30

Loaf of bread

USD 3.25

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 8.80

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 7.75

Eating out

Big Mac Meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.75


USD 4.60

Bottle of local beer

USD 3.25

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 65


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.16

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 72

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 200


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 2.15

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.25

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.55

Accommodation in New Orleans

The New Orleans property market is fairly robust and competitive. As tourism is such big business in NOLA, investing in rental properties makes good business sense as it can be used by holidaymakers as well as longer-term New Orleans residents. 

The majority of new arrivals to the city opt to rent property rather than buy, at least initially. Only once they’ve found their feet, become familiar with the various neighbourhoods and are ready to lay down roots in New Orleans do residents really start to explore the option of purchasing a home in the city. 

Types of property

Anyone considering a move to New Orleans will be sure to find a rich variety of property options in the city. Architectural styles in NOLA are beautiful and unique with properties being full of character. Here are a few of the most common types of property found in New Orleans. 

Apartments and Condos

Apartments and condos are a relatively new feature in New Orleans. Both are self-contained units within a larger building or complex and can be found scattered around various parts of New Orleans. In New Orleans, these tend to be pretty modern with all essential facilities available. Living in an apartment or condo is a great option for new arrivals as there is a sense of communal living. Residents share various amenities including communal fitness centres, swimming pools, gyms, gardens and laundry facilities. 


Townhouses are two to four-storey buildings which tend to feature arched openings and iron buildings. They have steep side-gabled roofs made of brick or stucco. In New Orleans, townhouses are either built in the standard American style as well as a Creole-style which can be found mainly in NOLA’s French Quarter. 

Creole cottages

These humble single-storey, ground-level properties with steeply pitched roofs and stucco or wood exteriors tend to be unique to the French Quarter of New Orleans. These properties are perfect for young couples looking to get their foot on the property ladder as well as small families. 

Shot-gun houses

Shot-gun style houses are those most commonly seen all over New Orleans. They are usually one-storey properties but many have a second floor at the rear of the building. Shot-gun houses are very narrow structures built on brick piers with the distinctive front porches covered by a roof supported by Victorian-era columns. 

Finding accommodation in New Orleans

Generally, the best place to begin the search for a new home in New Orleans will be online. Consulting reputable property portals is a great way for prospective residents to get a feel for the different types of property available in each neighbourhood, and how much to budget.

Real estate agents with knowledge of New Orleans are often another fantastic source and can assist new arrivals to familiarise themselves with different parts of the city.

Factors to consider when looking for a home in NOLA include proximity to places of work, amenities, shopping hubs and access to major roads. Lifestyle considerations will also come into play. Those moving to New Orleans with children should also consider the proximity to good public schools and space requirements when searching for a home. 

Renting accommodation in New Orleans

Despite New Orleans’ increased popularity as a destination for expats and transplants from other parts of the USA, supply has managed to keep pace with demand in terms of housing stock. For this reason, new arrivals shouldn’t struggle to find a suitable home in the Crescent City. 

Making an application

Once potential tenants have found a property to their liking, they’ll need to express their interest either to the agent or the landlord directly. Subsequently, credit and reference checks will be carried. Once these have come back clear, the tenant and landlord can go ahead and sign the lease. For those moving to New Orleans from outside the USA, having a US bank account and have a social security number set up before applying for rental property will certainly make life easier. 


Generally, rental contracts in NOLA are valid for a year with the option to renew at the end of the initial term. At the discretion of the landlord, it may be possible to request a shorter lease which can be useful for those who need a short-term rental that’ll enable to find their feet in the city. 


Before signing any contracts, renters should meticulously study the terms of their lease agreements to determine which utilities are included in the rental price. Generally, landlords cover standard utilities such as water and electricity. Optional extras such as internet, cable TV and landline telephone services are usually for the tenant's personal account.


Prospective tenants will be required to put down a security deposit to secure a rental contract. These deposits are fully refundable once the lease terminates, provided that the property is left in an acceptable state. For this reason, it is essential that tenants and landlords carry out a detailed inventory at both the beginning and end of the rental term, as damages will need to be deducted from the deposit. 

Under Louisiana State Law there is no limit to the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit. That said, typically a deposit is equivalent to a month’s rent. The law does, however, state that the deposit minus any legitimate deductions is returned to the tenant within a month of them vacating the property. 

Areas and Suburbs of New Orleans

The best places to live in New Orleans

New arrivals to the Crescent City will soon learn that New Orleans is an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods. From bohemian Bywater full of art galleries and live music venues popular with a creative crowd, to the oak-lined Garden District which is perfect for couples and active retirees, there really is a place for everyone in this culturally rich and vibrant city. 

City living in New Orleans

As a city rich in culture and history that is also renowned for its nightlife offerings, it is understandable that new residents may want to be close to the action. There are a number of great neighbourhoods located close to downtown New Orleans that allow residents to make the most of the city and truly immerse themselves in the vibrancy of it all. 

New Orleans French Quarter


These adjacent neighbourhoods are famous for their vibrant art scene. Full of local art galleries, relaxed live music venues and craft markets galore, Marigny and Bywater embody the creative spirit of New Orleans. Residents will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. From trendy local eateries to humble soul-food spots, foodies really can take their pick. Distinctive Creole cottages, a type of residential architecture quite unique to NOLA, line the streets. The community is relatively young with most people in the area renting properties

Uptown/Garden District

The leafy Garden District with its ancient magnolia trees and scents of Jasmine transports visitors and residents to a grander, more opulent era. It's no wonder this is one of the most popular places to live in New Orleans. With loads of sophisticated bars, smart restaurants and trendy coffee shops there is rarely any reason for residents to leave the Uptown area. Home to a diverse community ranging from young professionals to retirees, the area has a really liberal and welcoming spirit to it, and is a great place for new arrivals to start their New Orleans experience.

Gentilly/New Orleans East

A lesser-known part of the city, Gentilly and New Orleans East are hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered. Shotgun homes were once a common architectural feature of the area, but since the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the neighbourhood has seen the rise of more modern types of houses. The communities in this part of New Orleans are ethnically diverse and well established. Historically home to large African-American and Vietnamese populations, new arrivals will find themselves surrounded by a real depth of culture in everything from the festivals to the food. Gentilly and New Orleans East are particularly popular with families as well as young couples looking to get their foot on the property ladder.

Family-friendly areas of New Orleans

New arrivals relocating to NOLA with a family or those looking for a slightly slower pace of life will find that life in one the many outlying areas of New Orleans might just be perfect for them. Properties in the suburbs tend to be larger, and in many cases more modern. Each area has its own unique vibe with a range of restaurants, bars and other lifestyle offerings to keep residents suitably entertained. 

Garden District New Orleans

Algiers Point

Located on the other side of the Mississippi River, Algiers Point allows residents to see a different side of New Orleans. A historic neighbourhood where jazz once flourished, the pace of life is a little slower here but the sense of community is strong with Confetti Park being a popular gathering spot among the locals. The suburb is full of architectural gems with beautiful Victorian touches. Living in Algiers Point will require new arrivals to take a step back and embrace a more relaxed way of doing things.


Home to one of New Orleans’ largest parks, after which it is named, Audubon is one of the most popular residential neighbourhoods in NOLA. Also known as the ‘University District’ thanks to its proximity to Tulane and Loyola Universities, the area is home to a large student population. The presence of several good public schools makes this a great suburb for those looking to raise a family in New Orleans. Properties are spacious and comfortable and house prices are reasonable. New arrivals will also benefit from the strong sense of community here. 


This family-friendly suburb of New Orleans is home to a small population of around 1,500 residents. Located on the lakefront, as its name suggests, Lakewood offers residents a sparse urban feel which combines the best of city living with the benefits of being part of a tight-knit community. Nestled by City Park, Lakeview residents enjoy having the Besthoff Sculpture Garden on their doorstep. Being close to the StoryLand amusement park is a bonus for those with children. Harrison Avenue is the place to be when it comes to shopping, restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Healthcare in New Orleans

In recent years, New Orleans has a built a reputation for itself as a healthcare hub in America's South. The healthcare landscape of NOLA is constantly evolving and these developments have gone hand in hand with innovation in the city’s biotech industry.

Newcomers to the Crescent City will be pleased to learn that it is home to a number of first-class healthcare systems that compete to provide excellent care to patients. That said, as is the case throughout the USA, to access the best medical care, residents need to be in possession of a comprehensive private health insurance plan, which doesn’t come cheap. Therefore those moving to New Orleans for work should try to negotiate a healthcare allowance into their employment package.

Some of the most prominent hospitals can be found in downtown NOLA’s Bio District, including the University Medical Centre and Tulane Medical Center. Below you’ll find our list of some of the most well established medical facilities in New Orleans

Recommended hospitals in New Orleans

New Orleans East Hospital

Address:  5620 Read Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127

Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Address: 200 Henry Clay Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

Tulane Medical Center

Address: 1415 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112

University Medical Centre New Orleans

Address: 2000 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112

LSU Health New Orleans

Address: 2021 Perdido St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Education and Schools in New Orleans

In line with the rest of the USA, the schooling system in New Orleans is divided between three levels:

  • Elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8
  • High school – Grade 9 to 12

Prospective New Orleans residents with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions on whereabouts they’d like to live. New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) is the authority in charge of overseeing education in the city. With over one hundred different schools to choose from, the decision facing new NOLA residents as to where to send their child to school isn’t all that straightforward.

Factors to consider when choosing a school in New Orleans include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of fees, extra-curricular activities and proximity to the family home as well as the parent's place of work.

Public schools in New Orleans

The public-school landscape in New Orleans changed quite dramatically in the post-Katrina years. Before Hurricane Katrina caused havoc for the Crescent City, the school's districts in New Orleans were plagued with the problems of underfunding and lack of staffing. 

Even to this day, the better public schools do tend to be located close to the more affluent areas of the city. It is therefore important for new arrivals with children to consider the availability of good public schools when deciding where to live in the city. 

Charter schools

The destruction caused by Katrina gave the authorities the opportunity to rethink public schooling in the city and as a result, NOLA saw the emergence of a larger number of charter schools with greater financial investment in the public schooling system. It is now believed that over 90 percent of New Orleans’s student population attends a charter school.

Charter schools are a sub-set of public schools that are overseen by outside bodies. Although they do have more freedom in terms of teaching methodology and admissions, these schools remain accountable to NOPS. 

Each of these institutions will have a charter which details the school's operations, programme, goals and methods of assessment. Some charter schools serve particular populations or students that are struggling in a traditional learning environment whereas others follow a particular instructional theme. 

While they tend to be more flexible when it comes to catchment areas, those that choose to pursue this option should still factor in proximity when deciding where to live.

Magnet schools

New Orleans is also home to a handful of magnet schools. Like charter schools, these are state-funded to a great extent, but because they do receive an element of external funding, magnet schools have more autonomy when it comes to shaping their curriculum. These type of schools allow students to pursue a more vocational path in line with individual capabilities. 

Magnet schools generally focus on a particular subject area such as the performing arts, languages, sports or the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Private schools in New Orleans

In addition to the variety of public schooling options available to residents of New Orleans, the city also hosts over 50 private schools. Many private schools in New Orleans have a religious affiliation, most commonly with the Christian faith. 

Generally, private schools offer a higher standard of teaching and more modern facilities than the average public school. Also, there are more options in terms of various honour programmes for academically-gifted students as well as those who demonstrate an aptitude for arts, sports and music. 

Naturally, the downside of private education is the often hefty price tag. Although the average cost of school fees at private schools in New Orleans is slightly less than the national average for the US, this type of privilege doesn’t come cheap. Those who choose this option for their children will need to be prepared to fork out for tuition fees as well as other expenses such as uniforms, books, stations, extra-curricular expenses and field trips. 

International schools New Orleans

Foreign residents moving to New Orleans may wish to have their children educated at an international school in order for them to receive an internationally-recognised qualification or allow them to maintain a degree of continuity despite starting at a new school. While there are no schools in New Orleans that follow the curricula of foreign countries, there are a few private international schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB qualification). Like with private schools, international schools tend to charge high school fees. 

It is, however, also worth noting that a number of charter schools offer students the opportunity to study for the IB at a fraction of the cost one would pay at a private institution. There are also a number of public schools that offer French immersion programmes. 

Special needs education in New Orleans

Students with learning difficulties and disabilities are well catered for in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana endeavours to support all students with special needs up to the age of 21, at no extra cost to the parents. The support structures in place are extensive, multi-faceted and cater to those with a range of issues, ranging from autism and ADHD to physical mobility problems.

Where possible, students with special needs are accommodating in mainstream NOLA public schools. If a child’s disability is more severe there are specialist facilities available too. 

Tutors in New Orleans

Whether it’s a student struggling to keep pace with the set curriculum or those in need of some extra support to tackle university entrance exams, private tuition can be useful in strengthening understanding, boosting confidence, and giving children that extra edge over their peers. 

When it comes to private tuition, the support offered by schools in New Orleans is fairly limited. Some schools do provide extra lessons for those with minor learning difficulties, but no school is required to fund private tuition for students. That said, schools can often provide a list of recommended tutors in the local area.

For students in need of extra academic support, there are a number of reputable tutoring companies in New Orleans. Some of the well-established companies include HYPE Tutoring, Tutor New Orleans and Kumon Learning. These companies offer a range of services from one-to-one tutoring to small group sessions.

Lifestyle in New Orleans

New residents and expats to New Orleans won’t be disappointed when it comes to the city’s wealth of lifestyle offerings. It is abundantly clear why tourism is such a booming industry in the Crescent City. There really is something for everyone in NOLA. 

Whether one’s idea of fun is spending hours absorbing the city’s rich history, admiring art or taking in some of its performing arts – culture enthusiasts will love life in New Orleans. As the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans is known the world over for its nightlife, and prospective residents will be spoilt for choice when it comes to evening entertainment. Foodies, too, will be well taken care of in New Orleans. From Southern soul food and Creole cuisine to international fusion foods, the Crescent City boasts a number of gastronomic delights.

New Orleans is a city that is full of life, colour and vibrancy and new arrivals are sure to find plenty of exciting things to do with their downtime. 

Art and culture in New Orleans

Art, theatre and music are the lifeblood of New Orleans, a city filled with colour, vibrancy and sound the whole year-round. NOLA has an impressive history when it comes to the arts. In 1796, New Orleans played host to the first documented opera performance in the USA and became home to the first ever commercial movie theatre on Canal Street in 1896. It is also, of course, and as previously mentioned, the undisputed home of jazz. 

New Orleans is home to a rich stock of museums and art galleries. From the world-renowned National WWII Museum and New Orleans Museum of Art to slightly more quirky offerings such as Mardi Gras World, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and the Historic Voodoo Museum, NOLA has cultural attractions galore.

Nightlife in New Orleans

As the sun goes down, New Orleans comes to life and you’d expect nothing less from a city that produced musical giants such as Louis Armstrong, Dr John and Trombone Shorty. From the smooth sounds of the live jazz clubs to vibrant cabaret shows, NOLA residents have great entertainment on every street corner. 

Nightlife spots in New Orleans are strewn across the city, so new residents will have their fair share of exploring to do. A stroll from Frenchmen Street in Marigny through to the French Quarter will reveal block upon block of lively little cafes, music clubs and restaurants. The world-famous Bourbon Street is another popular haunt for Crescent City revellers, and the Bywater also showcases some brilliant local talent. 

Eating out in New Orleans

New Orleans has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the USA’s food capitals. NOLA’s food scene is a real mix of tradition and innovation. From Creole delicacies such as the iconic shrimp gumbo, mouth-watering jambalaya or delectable crawfish étouffée to more eclectic offerings featuring flavours from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and beyond, New Orleans has a myriad of offerings to suit even the most worldly and sophisticated of palettes. 

New residents of the Crescent City will be thankful to learn that eating out in New Orleans doesn’t need to cost the earth. While there are certainly plenty of opportunities to get a fine-dining fix when one is looking to push the boat out, New Orleans is very much about its comforting soul food, which can be found dished up at an array of humble eateries and fantastic foothill markets throughout the city. 

Sport and outdoor activities in New Orleans

Sports fans won’t be disappointed with a move to New Orleans. Crescent City residents are pretty passionate when it comes to their pro sports teams. NFL fans can get behind the New Orleans Saints while basketball enthusiasts will love following the New Orleans Pelicans in their NBA games. The New Orleans sporting calendar is full throughout the year, so it's guaranteed there’ll never be a dull moment. 

New arrivals keen on spending time outdoors will find plenty to keep them occupied in New Orleans, as long as the weather behaves. The city is home to a number of lovely parks that are perfect for a lazy day in the sun. The Mississippi River provides endless opportunities too, from boat rides to fishing trips.

See and Do in New Orleans

New Orleans combines tradition with modernity in a unique way, which makes for some memorable sightseeing. As far as new arrivals are concerned, there is really no better way of getting acquainted with one’s new home than by checking out the city’s best attractions.

Starting life as a French colony and being ruled by Spain for some time, before finally becoming part of the USA with the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, it’s easy to see why New Orleans is a wonderful amalgamation of cultures. Many of the city’s attractions continue to retain characteristics from its French and Spanish past. 

New Orleans is also known for its festivals and there is no doubt that new arrivals will have loads of fun exploring this city. Below are our picks of the Crescent City’s top attractions to get newcomers started.

Attractions in New Orleans

French Quarter 

Not an attraction in the traditional sense, but exploring the streets of NOLA’s French Quarter is a must for anyone new to the city. Strolling by the quaint Creole townhouses will transport visitors to a bygone era. The Vieux Carre is full of top-notch restaurants, vibey bars, antique shops and eclectic clothing boutiques. For something a little different, be sure to explore the voodoo dens which are scattered throughout the area.

New Orleans Museum of Art

Located within City Park in the south of the city, the New Orleans Museum of Art houses extensive collections of French, American, Japanese and African art. With over 30,000 pieces on display, this museum is likely to require more than a single visit. Then there are almost 100 further pieces scattered around the outdoor Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden. Dating back to 1911, the imposing limestone building with its Grecian-influenced facade is quite the work of art in itself. 

National WWII Museum

Established in 2000, the National WWII Museum draws international visitors from across the globe. Brilliantly curated exhibitions provide insights into WWII from a US perspective. The museum is located in New Orleans to recognise Andrew Higgins’ contribution to the Allied victory through the invention of the flat-bottomed boats. In addition to the insightful exhibit on allied boats, visitors can peruse documents, uniforms and weapons from the war. The state-of-the-art 4D theatre experience is something not to be missed.

Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World is the brainchild of Blaine Kern, or ‘Mr Mardi Gras’ as he is more fondly known, who has been building floats for the city’s famous Fat Tuesday parade for over 50 years. Located close to the NOLA Convention Center, visitors can take a tour that provides some interesting insights into the history behind the Mardi Gras experience. The vibrant displays are full of colour, and the venue provides a wonderful opportunity for new residents to get to grips with one of New Orleans’s signature festivals.

Steamboat Natchez

Until the rise of the automobile, New Orleans was the centre of the Mississippi River’s shipping and steamboat travel industry. Nowadays, Steamboat Natchex is the only steamboat in operation in the city. A ride aboard this historic vessel provides a chance for visitors to experience the past. The dinner jazz cruise is a particularly memorable experience, but day tours are also available. 

New Orleans Jazz Museum

Naturally, as the home of jazz, New Orleans would be the place to find such a museum. With a wealth of artefacts dating back to the turn of the 20th century, the New Orleans Jazz Museum provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about a genre of music that lies at the heart of this city.  As well as various kids programmes, the museum hosts a spectacular array of concerts throughout the year. It’s a great place to come and be inspired.

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Learn about gris-gris, amulets, zombies, charms and other aspects of the Voodoo religion that was once bought to New Orleans by African slaves. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo museum provides some excellent cultural insights into this fascinating aspect of the city’s make-up. The exhibit on Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is particularly awe-inspiring. This is certainly the place to be for those who are looking for a truly unique experience.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Perhaps at first glance, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum won’t seem like the most appealing attraction in the city but visitors won’t be disappointed. Located on Charles Street in the famous French Quarter, the museum is housed in the historic building where Louis J Dufilho Jr became the first licensed pharmacist in the USA. The curators have gone to great lengths to preserve the building and the museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of medicine.

Audubon Nature Institute

From Audubon Park which hosts a wonderful zoo, to the city’s aquarium and the insectarium on Canal Street, animal enthusiasts will be in their element by Audubon Nature Institute offerings in New Orleans. Family-friendly in every sense, these attractions are sure to open each visitor's eyes to the real beauty and diversity of nature so be sure to visit each of these in turn. 

Cafe Du Monde

Since 1862, Cafe Du Monde has been something of a New Orleans institution. Dishing up the best doughnut and coffee pairing, it's a must for any new resident of the city. This iconic open-air coffee stand in the historic French Quarter has become world renowned for its hot beignets and signature chicory coffee. Cafe Du Monde operates around the clock, come rain or shine, so there is no excuse not to treat oneself. 

What's On in New Orleans

When it comes to festivals, newcomers to New Orleans will be spoilt for choice. From festivals that centre around food, music, heritage or sport, New Orleans boasts a vibrant and diverse annual calendar of events. 

With over 100 festivals taking place each year, New Orleans residents always seem to have a reason to celebrate and new arrivals are sure to find an event that is right up their street. 

Annual events in New Orleans

Mardi Gras (February)

Traditionally, Mardi Gras was a celebration of Fat Tuesday, but most New Orleans residents regard the entire season from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday to be a celebration. Even though it is often viewed as a parade of debauchery and revelry, Mardi Gras is, in fact, a family-friendly affair. Festivities centre around the French Quarter, Marigy and Bourbon Street.

St Patrick’s Day Festival (March)

New Orleans goes all out for St Patrick’s Day. This annual celebration of Ireland’s patron saint features a colourful parade through parts of downtown New Orleans including Bywater, Marigny and Bourbon Street, as well as a the nearby suburb of Metairie. The city streets are awash with emerald green as the masses come out in force to enjoy a festive day of music, dancing, Irish stew and, of course, Guinness by the gallon.  

Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (March)

The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, TWFest, as it is more commonly known, is a prominent five-day literary event in New Orleans. As the name suggests, the festival is dedicated to the famous American Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams, who lived and worked in the city. With readings, presentations, book signings and workshops this is a must for any bookworm. 

French Quarter Festival (April)

Held in New Orleans’s oldest neighbourhood, this four-day festival is the largest free music event in Louisiana. Almost 750,000 visitors attend each year and the event has gone from strength to strength over the last three decades. Over a thousand acts take to various stages scattered across the French Quarter. Whether a fan of blues, Latin, jazz, swing or rock, there is bound to be a performance to tickle everyone's fancy. 

New Orleans Food and Wine Experience (April)

When it comes to food, New Orleans doesn’t mess around. For over 20 years, NOWFE has served to showcase the city’s best culinary experiences along with fabulous wines from around the world. With demos by top local chefs and some international names, this is a serious event for foodies. There is also a range of seminars, wine pairings and breakfast events to keep festival goers occupied throughout the day. 

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (April/May)

An established event on the New Orleans events calendar, the Jazz Fest has been going for over half a century. Held over two weekends, always the last one of April and the first weekend in May, this musical extravaganza features multiple stages featuring an array of acts from jazz and blues to gospel, Cajun zydeco, rock, country and hip-hop. The atmosphere is complemented by food stalls offering local favourites such as jambalaya, gumbo and soft-shell crab po’boys. 

Essence Festival (July)

Since the 1990s, the Essence Festival has been a popular music event dedicated to contemporary black music and culture. For three days every July, New Orleans welcomes both established and up-and-coming black musicians to its famous Superdome stadium. Spin-off events such as the outdoor market in downtown New Orleans and the Essence Marketplace at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center add to the buzz.

New Orleans Film Festival (October)

Since the early 2000s, Louisiana offered producers significant tax incentives for shooting films in the state. New Orleans’s film industry benefited tremendously from this move and the city is now often dubbed ‘Hollywood South’. The New Orleans Film Festival brings filmmakers, actors, producers and scriptwriters to the city to showcase local talent and celebrate diversity in the film industry. With over 200 movies on the circuit each year, this event is a must for any movie buff. 

Getting Around in New Orleans

Exploring a new city, whether by foot, car or public transport, is a good way to get acquainted with a new home. Luckily for those moving to New Orleans the transport infrastructure is fairly solid. Buses, streetcars and ferries make up the city's public transport network. And, although these systems might not be all that sophisticated or modern in comparison to the networks in other more affluent cities such as New York, San Francisco or Chicago, getting around New Orleans is fairly safe and easy. 

Whether or not new arrivals opt to invest in a car will depend on their personal circumstances and budget. While it isn't essential to have a vehicle, it can make life easier, especially for those relocating with children. New arrivals located close to the downtown area, or with easy access to the public transport network, may not need to worry about driving till they find their feet in New Orleans. In fact, it may in fact be less stressful to get around in these central parts of New Orleans without a car.

Public transport in New Orleans

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) is the body that oversees the public transport network in the Crescent City, which consist of buses, the iconic streetcars and ferries. While New Orleans may not boast the most sophisticated public transportation network, it has been deemed to have one of the safest systems in the USA, which is reassuring for new arrivals.

Public transport rates are fairly reasonable in New Orleans, but for those who plan on using the system regularly, it is worth investing in a weekly or monthly Jazzy pass, which affords the user unlimited travel on both buses and streetcars with quite a significant saving.

New residents will also find the NORTA GoMobile app to be a useful resource when it comes to getting around New Orleans. Commuters can use this app to pay for passes on all forms of public transportations, and it allows them to map their journeys, access transport schedules and track when the next streetcar, bus or ferry is due to arrive. 


The bus network in New Orleans is fairly extensive, comprising of over 30 different routes, which serve a wider range of neighbourhoods than those covered by streetcars. 

Most routes operate around the clock, which means that bus travel is a highly convenient way of getting around for most people. On average, buses run every 30 minutes, but services are often more frequent along the busier routes.


Trams, commonly known as streetcars in New Orleans, are a popular mode of transportation in the city. There are four main lines that extend through the city’s central neighbourhoods. Some streetcar routes run through the night while others stop running at midnight, so it is best to plan journeys using the NORTA website or mobile app. The frequency of streetcar services varies depending on the route and the time of day but, generally, they arrive at 15–30 minute intervals. 


There are two ferry routes in operation in New Orleans. The first route, which allows cars on, connects Chalmette in the east of the city with Algiers on the west bank of the Mississippi. This route isn’t all that popular owing to the fact that there is also a traffic bridge that crosses the river at similar points and is, therefore, more convenient for most people. The second, more frequently used Canal Street ferry connects French Quarter to Algiers Point. This service is for commuters only so while pets, bikes and scooters are allowed, cars aren’t. 

Generally, ferries run every hour from 6 am to 9.45 pm on most days and from 10.30am to 11.45 pm on Fridays and Saturday. During the Mardi Gras and other large annual festivals, extra ferry services are provided with extended operating hours. 

Taxis in New Orleans

While taxis are readily available in New Orleans, unless one is travelling from a major tourist hotspot or hotel, they aren’t easy to simply flag down. However, these days most New Orleans taxi companies have mobile apps that make it easier to schedule a ride ahead of time. 

United Cabs is the most prominent cab company in New Orleans and has the largest fleet of vehicles. This company mainly operates in the downtown part of New Orleans. New arrivals should also investigate which taxi operators work in their particular neighbourhood, as some smaller companies can offer a more efficient service at a local level. 

E-hailing services in New Orleans

Popular e-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are pretty well established in New Orleans. Fares are similar to taxi prices, but most people find e-hailing to be more reliable and efficient. Users simply need to download the app of choice onto their smartphone and register using a credit card.

It is important to note that there are regular price surges on these apps during big annual events such as the Mardi Gras. 

Pedicabs in New Orleans

Pedicabs are a type of rickshaw-style vehicle that commonly operates throughout the French Quarter, downtown New Orleans area and Warehouse District. Although these are unlikely to be used on a daily basis, they are a good option for short-trips in high-traffic areas. 

Generally, they tend to be used by tourists and visitors to New Orleans as the operators tend to act as tour guides as well, providing useful information and recommendations about the city. For newcomers to the city, pedicabs are certainly a fun way to get acquainted with central parts of New Orleans

Cycling in New Orleans

New Orleans is a bicycle-friendly city and the authorities have made a concerted effort to improve infrastructure for cyclists by expanding cycle routes, accommodating bikes on buses and ferries, and installing safe bicycle storage facilities around the city centre.

Blue Bikes is the name of New Orleans’ bike-share programme. Users simply need to register online to see a map of all the bike hubs in the city. The app allows people to reserve a bike at a particular hub ahead of time. Cyclists using Blue Bikes can either opt to pay by the minute or, if they plan to use the service more regularly, pay the monthly flat rate for unlimited usage. 

Walking in New Orleans

Walking is a great way to see New Orleans during the day and early evening but some areas are more suitable for exploring on foot than others. Central areas such as the French Quarter, downtown New Orleans and Marigny are great places for a leisurely stroll. In fact, taking a car to these parts is often nothing short of a nightmare.

Living in areas further away from central New Orleans means that residents are more likely to need a car and having a personal vehicle is especially useful for those with children as it affords residents more freedom to get around the city according to their own schedule. 

Driving in New Orleans

Whether or not one needs a car in New Orleans will depend on personal circumstances as well as one’s choice of residential neighbourhood. 

Driving isn’t always easy in parts of New Orleans. Much of the city was designed before people were commonly using cars to get around, so newcomers will find that many of the streets are incredibly narrow and operate on one-way systems. Road conditions are also sub-par for what is considered a developed city and drivers should be aware of potholes. Parking is often hard to find and expensive in central parts of New Orleans. Also, drivers moving to New Orleans should brush up on their parallel parking skills before getting behind the wheel.

That said, for residents living in the suburbs having a car can be useful. Driving gives new arrivals more freedom to explore the city and its surrounds at their own pace. Parents will also find that having a car makes things easier when it comes to transporting children about.