After college I lived in Hoboken for a year before moving into Manhattan.
The pros for me:
- Hoboken is a young, prosperous, bustling city; it feels like a burgeoning 6th borough of Manhattan overflowing with young professionals (can be good or bad depending on your age).
- It is condensed (1 square mile), so you can walk almost anywhere.
- Rents/bars/food are slightly less expensive than Manhattan (you get more for your buck).
- It's got a ton of really good, less pretentious bars and restaurants and some of my favorite pizza/Italian food anywhere.
- The river views of Manhattan are spectacular.
- The commute (I took New York Waterway ferry to Downtown) can be like taking a photo cruise two times every day.
- The PATH makes it relatively cheap and easy to get in and out of the City.
- The NJ Transit station makes it easy to get to the Jersey suburbs.
- Hoboken is not Manhattan. In Hoboken, you can't step out of your apartment and immediately sense the NYC streetlife. In Hoboken, you can't pass some of America's greatest historical and architectural landmarks on your way to buy a jar of peanut butter. You can't jump on subway for 5 minutes or walk to the best museums, theaters and parks on the planet.
Also, when I was living in Hoboken, all of my friends lived in Manhattan, so afterwork drinks would be in Manhattan without exception. It can be difficult to PATH it back to Hoboken after a night of heavy imbibing - I typically would pass out, miss the Hoboken stop and wake up back at 33rd.
In sum, in Manhattan you get less for your dollar, but this is more than made up for in location and convenience. The only time I would recommend living in Hoboken over Manhattan is if: (i) you have a number of friends who live in Hoboken, (ii) most of your social excursions will take place in Hoboken rather than in Manhattan, (iii) you need the additional living space your dollar affords you in Hoboken and (iv) you're not inclined to spend a lot of time exploring the streets, parks, and cultural institutions of NYC.