New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana, in America’s ‘Deep South.’
It was estimated to have a population of almost 400,000 in 2017.
The wider New Orleans metro area was estimated to have had a population of 1,275,762 in 2017, making it the 46th most populous in the U.S.
The city’s location by the Mississippi River has a big influence on life here. And it is also a major port, ranking as the country’s fifth largest in terms of cargo tonnage.
Renowned for its vibrant culture, New Orleans is a popular tourist destination and one of the most visited cities in the U.S.
People visit for its distinctive cuisine, its historic colonial architecture and because of its status as the birthplace of jazz music.
In 2005 the city was in the news on account of Hurricane Katrina, which burst the sea water barriers. Some of the city is near or below sea level, but potential home-buyers should know that there is also plenty of real estate on higher ground.
Nickname(s): "The Big Easy"
Population: 393,292 (2017 estimated)
Land: 169.42 sq. miles
Urban: 349.85 sq. miles
Metro: 3,755.2 sq. miles
New Orleans is one of the most distinctive U.S. cities in terms of culture. It’s history as first a French and then a Spanish outpost have left a big impression, notably in the architecture, the cuisine and the Creole language spoken here. The colonists also bequeathed a tradition of Roman Catholicism, which inspired festivals like the Mardi Gras. The African-American presence has also influenced many aspects of life here, most famously the music.
With all the culture and history surrounding them, maybe it’s understandable that the locals enjoy a pace of life which is considered to be markedly slower than in many other places in the U.S. And that’s how the tourists seem to like it too!
As the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans has a special place as a tourist destination. Louis Armstrong was born here, and the city’s main airport and a large park in the center of town are named after him. The music can be heard everywhere, with many of the most famous clubs located in the French Quarter. Traditional Dixieland jazz is well represented, but groups playing more modern styles can also be enjoyed.
The city’s most famous festivals are the exceptionally colorful Mardi Gras and the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival. Other music events include the Voodoo Fest and the Essence Music Festival. Experiences not to be missed are a cruise on the Mississippi and a trip to the swamps and bayous. Many restaurants serve the local cuisine, which is perhaps the most distinctive in all the U.S.—a couple of well-known dishes are gumbo and jambalaya.
The city of New Orleans can be said to have three parts: the Eastside, Eastern New Orleans and West Bank.
The East Bank contains the French Quarter with all its entertainment possibilities. A subsection of this is the Central Business District, home to several well-known companies, and the Central Town/Garden District Area which has some of the South’s best-preserved historic mansions. Uptown neighborhoods here include Carrolton with its attractive oak trees. The Mid-City area is generally middle-class, while coastal West End is popular with the yachting community. The Bywater and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods are two of the most architecturally colorful in the city.
Eastern New Orleans has neighborhoods which were very badly hit by Hurricane Katrina: some are outside the city’s levee system, while others are simply low-lying. Neighborhoods such as Pines Village and West Lake Forest tend to house lower-income families. Village de L'Est is well-known for its Vietnamese community and restaurants, and nearby Michoud has some important manufacturing facilities. Venetian Isles looks in some ways like a separate municipality but is actually within city limits, though close to the sea.
The West Bank sector of town might be named the South Bank as many of its most well-known neighborhoods are situated on a stretch of the Mississippi which runs west to east. Algiers Point is located on a bend of the river and is a neighborhood that combines residential buildings with many restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The nearby Behrman district is lower-income and with a predominantly African-American population, while Old Aurora is further to the east. New Aurora is still further away but has some attractive housing including mansions.
New Orleans real estate may be pricy by Louisiana standards, but it represents good value compared to some of the country’s major cities. Overall, prices are currently going down somewhat while the inventory is getting bigger, so it should be a good time for buyers. It’s calculated that luxury homes here are staying on the market for an average of no less than 14 months.
The French Quarter tends to have the highest priced homes, with some detached houses costing several millions. Uptown, especially its Audubon neighborhood, is not too far behind. The Bywater and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods, with their great locations near to the city center, have some attractive modern condos for sale.
Eastern New Orleans has properties which are often a good deal cheaper, and sizable detached homes can sometimes be had for less than $200,000, or for half that amount further out.
The West Bank offers various types of property at a wide range of prices depending on the district. In Algiers Point and the surrounding areas, for example, you can get anything from a very basic house for about $100,000 to a much fancier establishment nearer the river for $500,000.
Property sales figures source: the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®, January 2019.
The city’s public school system is run by New Orleans Public Schools, and it governs some of the 103 public schools within the city limits—and by 2014, in a pioneering move, all of their students were in independent charter schools. Others were taken over by the State of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, partly due to their poor performance. From 2004 to 2009 an improved performance of 24% was registered.
The University of New Orleans is a public research university based in the Lake Terrace/Lake Oaks neighborhood which was established in 1956. The private Tulane University, which was founded in 1984 as a medical college, is considered to be the state’s best and most selective higher learning institute. Dillard is a private and historically black institution, and there are also several theological colleges in the city.
The revenue accrued here from conventions and the hospitality industry is worth about $5.5B annually and accounts for 40% of the city’s earnings. There are other prestigious economic earners: the Fortune 500 company and nuclear power specialist Entergy is based here, and there is a Lockheed Martin factory in the east of the city which manufactures parts for NASA space rockets.
Recently there has been recession in the state of Louisiana, but New Orleans’ economy expanded in 2018 and it has been forecast that the technology and manufacturing sectors will help to significantly increase growth over the coming years. The unemployment rate in New Orleans is on a par with the national average, although it increased slightly from 2018 to 2019. Some have forecast that more jobs will soon be added in the metropolitan area.