Why I Wouldn’t Want To Live in New York City

Yesterday I wrote an article called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Seatte,” in which I playfully diss on Seattle (I called one neighborhood “boring,” minimized The Stranger’s influence on local culture, implied that Seattleites are insecure about how culturally rich Seattle is, harped on bike messengers, said that I didn’t like a local fast food restaurant, and made a joke about how a certain neighborhood was for Black People). I thought this was all very playful and lighthearted, but people got really mad! Look at this email I got:


Just read your article entitled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Seattle.” Congratulations on showing the Internet that you are a raging dickweed. Since you hate Seattle so much I figure you won’t be offended if I suggest that you move far, far away.

The vitriol of the reaction took me by surprise. I didn’t really get it. Are people here so uptight as to consider the city in which they live a sacred entity which must be defended from any and all defamation, even if it’s so obviously jokey and snarky? Who would actually react that way, for example, at a party? I can’t imagine anyone calling me a raging dickweed and saying that I should GTFO upon hearing that I don’t like the Space Needle. Who would honestly act butthurt if I said Queen Anne was boring?

I like Seattle. It offers a pretty unique and special blend of nature, weather, space, and culture. It has its downsides and things one might consider lame, but generally it’s a pretty nice place to live, and I’ve lived in a lot of places [1]. But as a writer and editor, I often feel a sort of pressure to move out to NYC, where “everything’s happening.” Here’s why I’m a bit cautious about that prospect.


1. It’s crowded as hell

Pretty sure this is the #1 reason why I wouldn’t want to live in the Big Apple. Every time I’ve been there I’ve had to get into a veritable conga line of people just to like, walk a block and a half on the sidewalk. Compare that to seemingly any other city and it’s just not that way – there’s something uniquely insular and claustrophobic about NYC that grates on the soul. My dislike for the “crowded” aspect of NYC isn’t even a matter of principal; it’s only that, at some kind of instinctual level, I really don’t want to be that close to so many freaking people all the time. I like to walk freely on the sidewalk. I enjoy riding my bike in a relatively carefree manner. Sometimes I like to move my arms when I’m in public.

2. There seems to be no escape

The problem with the crowds (not to mention the general close confines that characterize NYC) is that there like, seems to be no escape whatsoever. It doesn’t end once you get out of public spaces, because in private spaces, you’re still sort of in a public space. Come home after a stressed out day of walking and navigating the crowds, etc? Guess what – you still don’t have peace: your neighbor’s TV is blaring through one wall, the couple on the other side of the other wall is having some sort of domestic dispute, and your roommate has people over. And when you try to get to sleep, you can hear the people above you fucking! And so the next day when you want some stress relief, you go outside and it’s concrete forever, and when you finally get to where you’re going for some R&R, there are a bunch of other people there with the same idea. No escape.

3. There is no way to not get screwed on rent

I’m under the impression that in NYC, you have to pay a shit ton just to live alone, and a shit ton more if you want your studio to have windows. And then there’s this pretty egregious thing we all hear about: Broker’s Fees. I don’t get it. If you don’t have enough money to live alone, well – you have to live with roommates, and living with roommates… I’m over it, at least. The point is, if you’re working a service job or an entry-level position that pays just above minimum wage, you’re most likely going to be living in a really nasty place, and you’re going to be paying an unreasonable amount of money for it. How are you supposed to build up your savings in such a situation? Or even afford insurance?

4. The culture of canoodling

People canoodle in NYC – more than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Canoodle? “To win over or convince by cajoling or flattering; wheedle: ‘his matchless ability to charm, bamboozle, or canoodle most of his political associates.’” To the non-New Yorker, the sheer scale of canoodling – and the overt respect it’s given – in NYC on a night-to-night basis can be almost frightening, because he faces an uphill battle. Lack of experience and a not-from-NYC (Less Cool/ Savvy/ Authentic) status are at work against him. Let’s leave Talent out of this discussion.

NYC, more than any place I’ve been to, seems to be an environment in which metaphorical dick sucking is a recognized and valued currency; ‘accomplishments’ determine order, ‘friendships’ are strategic, and status is as cut and dry as a corporate ladder. It’s an environment in which the people are angular and impenetrable, rather than… bloblike and permeable (seriously). There’s something both highly respectable and highly disingenuous about it all; respectable for the transparency by which it’s all played out, disingenuous for the fact that this is how it’s all played out. Just like high school. Still, it’s a jungle out there! Not one that I can say I’m a fan of.


Don’t get me wrong – I like NYC. It’s really cool, it’s really interesting, everything does seem to happen there, and people seem to self-actualize there at a higher rate than any other place I’ve been. The culture that comes out of NYC is vibrant and insane, and perhaps is in part born out of the ‘negatives’ I’ve here listed. I wouldn’t even be surprised if I ended up moving there, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to living in a roach infested storage closet for $2,500 a month! TC mark

image – Bernd Untiedt


More From Thought Catalog

  • Dustin Hoffman

    You have an unfortunately skewed perspective of a not-roach-infested apartment in NYC costs—or maybe you were joshing. I can't say the same about hearing your neighbors though.

  • kzspygv

    I hear you – I think my BF wants to move to New York eventually. I'm ambivalent

  • YES

    All the reasons why I wouldn't want to live in NYC but still do…

  • Bradley

    Typical young person response. You haven't seen the world and you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

    • Brandon

      typical response of a person that didnt read the article

      • Bradley

        Typical response to someone who doesn't get sarcasm….

  • Guest

    You would write a snarky article about Seattle and then write another one (after getting negative responses) saying that you like it and that it's actually a decent place to live. Make up your freaking mind already. Do you want to move to NYC, or not? If so, cut the crap and stop writing shitty articles about how much it sucks, blah blah blah. If not, stop complaining and just don't move there.

    I would hate to know what you're like in real life, and seeing as how I don't live or plan on living in Seattle or NY, thankfully I won't ever have to.

    • Brandon

      if someone disapproves of your behavior, do you just stop behaving that way? what if the person that disapproves of your behavior is anonymous, do you so quickly and easily concede to their wishes? if so, why would you give precedence to their wishes over yours? IRL, whenever someone voices disapproval about your actions, do you immediately cease and desist with your actions? have you ever joked about the place you've lived, like at a party for example? have you ever complained about the public transportation in your city, or maybe the alt-weekly, in a lighthearted and overtly non-serious manner? has anyone ever, in response, like yelled at you, like really gotten red in the face and told you that they regret knowing you and never want to see you again after what you've just said? just wondering.

      • JP


      • aa


    • Skylar

      Hahaha, chill bro

  • http://lukenathan.tumblr.com Luke

    Only a raging dickweed would hate on the metaphorical dick sucking in NYC. That's my favorite part of NYC!!!!!! And the pigeons.

  • Aelya

    “Sometimes I like to move my arms when I’m in public.”

    I died.

    • http://fastfoodies.org Briana


  • Pfft

    please do not move to NYC.

  • http://entropicalia.wordpress.com Alison

    I think these stereotypes about NYC exist for a reason, but its far from the full story. And its mostly far away from my experience. Dislike of the crowds remind me of why I hate going to Midtown or Times Square rather than anything resembling where I actually live, work or hang out. I don't think I'd like NYC so much if I lived in Manhattan or even possibly Williamsburg. On that level its also about finding a neighborhood or city that you are comfortable with. For a time I lived in the Bay Area and even though I “liked” it I somehow I never felt completely comfortable there. Though I don't think I'm much of a canoodler, I'm only half-joking when I say I'm not nearly chill enough to make that my home.

  • EP

    this was good, but we don't really care about your footnotes that highlight where you traveled and lived before.

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    I enjoyed this.

  • http://www.calvinmarkus.com bruce

    park slope is nice dude, there are parts of brooklyn where you can avoid some of these issues

  • Ballard4Ever

    Why are people from bland yuppie infested cities always trying to prove (to themselves) that their city (Seattle/Portland/Northampton/Santa Cruz/ect…) is superior to New York? It's OK to just admit that it's not for you. You don't have to come up with crazy distorted/uniformed arguments as to why your hood is better.

    1. 1. It’s crowded as hell – well that's sort of true, but you get used to it and many people are invigorated by the amount of productive energy going around.

    2. There seems to be no escape – Did you stay in midtown when you visited here? Because it's pretty easy to get out of the crowd. In fact many neighborhoods, especially those in brooklyn are not any more crowded than Capital Hill, Freemont, the CD or Queen Anne. Additionally, when living in New york you have much easier access to other cities/towns/places of interest because shit out here isn't as spread out. When leaving Seattle there's a whole lot of strip-mall/Everett meth head/bland 5 year old housing development vibes before you hit anything interesting.

    On the apartment argument – If you want to live alone in Seattle you must live in an apartment. (assuming you can't afford a $700,000 + house). Seattle apartments have the same pitfalls as NY ones. It's plenty easy to find a place in Bell-town with thin walls and nasty neighbors.

    3. There is no way to not get screwed on rent – Tired argument. NY, just like seattle is priced accordingly. If I want to live in Capital hill, the same percentage of my paycheck would go to my rent if I was working/living in Williamsburg. On the flip-side, I much prefer the lower rent areas of NYC over those of SeaTown. Bushwick is much cooler than North Seattle.

    4. The culture of canoodling – Networking or “canoodling” as you put it is common among ambitious people. Even in Seattle. The difference is that there are more ambitious people in NYC than in Seattle. It's way easier to sort of turn on the cruise control and waste a few years chillin with your bro's at your sick pad in Ballard doin a whole lot of Bar backing at Sunset Tavern and not a lot of following your dreams/becoming an adult type shit. Are you saying that meaningful relationships can't be made in NYC because of all the “canoodling”? Isn't that lame argument usually reserved for LA? Are you sure you've been to NYC? The generally agreed upon stereo type for us is that we are all blunt an uninterested in uninteresting people. Were people mean to you when you were here and you assumed it was cuz you're a bad canoodler? That must be it. I assure you that relationships here are just as “real” as Seattle ones.

    I lived in Seattle (for hella long). It's boring. NYC is clearly better, but it's OK that it's not for you.

    • Brandon

      honestly doesn't seem like you read the entire article or simply skimmed it with a predetermined opinion about it that you formed upon seeing the headline, or something, i don't know where you got that i was trying to prove seattle superior to new york

      every time i've stayed in nyc i've stayed in brooklyn

      re canoodling i am not saying anything more than i said, that the culture of canoodling seems to be stronger than in any other place i've been and that this is something that i dislike about nyc; i also say that i have respect for it at the same time as not liking it; have no idea what affect that the “'lame argument' is usually reserved for LA” has on the fact that i wrote that here, don't get how that proves what i say as not representative of my opinion; seems like you extended my canoodling thing to a meaning that i didn't at all intend

      again it seems like for some reason you're threatened by this article and it must be because you base part of your identity on the stigma of being from new york; didn't mean to attack that – felt like the things i said were relatively innocuous: “crowds” “no escape” “high rent” and “canoodling”

  • Nico K.C.

    Brandon, I was born in New York and was raised in Philly. I decided to go back to NY for college, and I have 4 words for you:
    You literally listed my top 4 reasons for leaving NY. I could hug you, if this wasn't the internet and that wasn't weird.

    And for all of you New Yorkers/NY-Lovers:
    Yeah, NY is considered one of the greatest cities ever, and I'm not gonna deny that–but it's not a place everyone can live in. Some people like green grass and movement and sunshine that isn't blocked by looming towers of industry. We who live elsewhere aren't dissing your beloved city; and if we did live there, who the hell would be funding the tourism industry that your city thrives on?

  • Jennifer

    I think it's refreshing to see that someone on TC believe that NYC ain't all it's cracked up to be. This is coming from a gal that would rather live in the woods than pretend to be alternative and edgy on the internet.

  • http://miller-david.com david miller

    something about this seemed trying so hard to stay positive but made me sad, slightly, even though i don't think that was the intention.

    cataloging external factors of place, breaking it down to 'factors' – 'livability' / 'culture' – all of it (and i've done and still do the same) points to some kind of root level disconnection with belonging somewhere.

    some ppl just 'get' this. they belong where they belong.

    me, i've traveled all over the americas, partly because i hate how the place where i grew up evolved and i felt like i no longer belonged there.

    ppl think it's the internet or whatever that defines our generation(s).

    it's not. it's the fact that most of us have no more connection to place.

  • http://profiles.google.com/shewit.zerai Shewit Zerai

    I've lived in New York for about eight years (6 years in Canada) and I have to say I love it here, although I completely understand that it's really hard to enjoy NYC if you weren't raised here or you aren't financially well off. Then again, it's hard to enjoy anywhere if you aren't financially well off.

    I think with the whole NYC being super crowded, it definitely is really crowded. But it takes a native, or someone who's lived here 3 years+, to find your own special place where you can be alone. I recommend Van Cortland Park. It's in the Bronx and it's absolutely beautiful. Plus, if you're into forest and grass and stuff, it has a ton of that.

    But I liked this article, partly because I could identify and partly because I like your style of writing.

  • Anna

    Having lived in New York for years, I don't really understand a lot of the complaints, especially in comparison to what the city has to offer (maybe I'm just accustomed to it). Either way, these complaints seem reserved for Midtown, which is why I would go there willingly. But everyone knows that part of town isn't New York anyway – it is much bigger and more diverse than that. That said, I have qualms about comparing cities. It does not seem fair. Whatever New York is still better, always :)

    • Anna

      I would never go there willingly***

    • Lauren Moore

      I agree with Anna. This is yet another case of you generalizing neighborhoods as representative of an entire city. Midtown is awful—I'll give you that. Times Square is cramped, crowded and miserable. However, you fail to realize that those “congo lines” are due to tourist crowds. Real New Yorkers inhabit remote areas of the city, and since that you fall under the tourist category, it's pretty ballsy (but predictable) that you summarize for neighborhoods and boroughs that you've never visited. Rent in New York is high, but you fail to mention that cars are needed in every other city, bringing overall living prices up at my city's level.

      I could go on, but there's not point. Clearly you're too close-minded to ever appreciate an environment that's out of your comfort zone. The next time you make sweeping statements about a city, try living there first. As a tourist, you don't know anything.

      Oh, one more thing. I see that you're a writer. Considering that this post isn't very long, you might want to expand your metaphors a little bit. Your dick sucking analogy is numerous and contrived, ultimately making me respect you less than I already did. Get creative and present a well-supported argument next time, Brandon.

      • Brandon

        seems like you didn't read the entire article

        “Don’t get me wrong – I like NYC. It’s really cool, it’s really interesting, everything does seem to happen there, and people seem to self-actualize there at a higher rate than any other place I’ve been. The culture that comes out of NYC is vibrant and insane, and perhaps is in part born out of the ‘negatives’ I’ve here listed.”

        idg how my dick sucking analogy is 'numerous'

        every other city doesn't require a car, i haven't had a car for ~7 years, one of my friends has a car that i can think of, i have perhaps 10-15 people i would call friends

        this was not meant to be a threat to those who use glean portions of their identities from being a 'new yorker,' just chill

  • Adh

    I don't see anything wrong with the Seattle article nor this NYC one. I think everyone understands the idea of a love-hate relationship. And that's what Brandon was trying to say about Seattle. It doesn't mean he have a few negative things to say about a place means he hate it. We only “playfully diss” a place when we have some sort of affection for it. And sometimes the little flaws about these places makes us just love the place even more.

    On a side note, Brandon, I don't think there was a need to justify yourself by adding that footnote at the end of the article. Writers can write about any damn thing they want. Only politicians feel the need to justify their actions.

  • faggot

    I think your missing a number for this : “too many jews”

  • Addnewcomment

    Whoa, weird animosity in the comments. I've lived in Seattle and I've lived in New York and while I find Seattle much more to my liking on so many levels, I can appreciate New York. I know why people want to live there. I just don't. There's a reason why there's more than just one city in the world. Each one has its own vibe that's attractive to different groups of people, and that's fine… desirable even.

    New York is definitely more important than Seattle, but I realized that living someplace important isn't, well, important to me. New York has better public transportation and a 4 AM last call, but Seattle has better weed and friendlier people. Seattle is awful on July 3rd when it's 50 degrees and rainy, New York is awful on August 3rd when it's 95 and humid; Seattle is wonderful on August 3rd when it's 75, cloudless, smells like evergreens and you can see the mountains; New York is wonderful on October 3rd when it's 65, cloudless, doesn't smell like urine and the trees are full of color.

    You can be anonymous in New York and it can be both exhilirating and depressing; Seattle can feel like a small town where everybody knows your name or a small town where you run into exes on every street corner.

    In the end it's more about the intangible aspects of cities that can't really be quantified in the way this post and mine have attempted to do; you either feel like home or you don't.

    Anyway, just some rumination on two cities I've known.

    • Addnewcomment

      Also, Seattle has KEXP, although now I hear it has a satellite station in NY, so there's that.

  • LitNit

    I think the use of gentrification concerning Capitol Hill and also the black people in the CD is what made most of my friends (black and not) kind of hate that article. The humor was kind of directed poorly. And the hate for the Seattle Weekly. Sometimes their articles are better!

  • Jody Fossler

    the internet isn't real life, Brandon. Thank God.

  • Reallyyyydude

    You can avoid upsetting people by not posting anything at all. C U l8r.

  • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

    I mean its like, thru the back door to the front stage amirite!?

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