Living In Manhattan Versus Brooklyn

Every day I wear a scarlet letter on my chest and it’s “M” for “{I live in) Manhattan.” Whenever someone asks me where I live, I feign a coughing fit and say “East Village” in between severe wheezing. To those of you who don’t understand why living in Manhattan would ever be considered shameful, I’ll tell you. Even though rents in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights can be just as high as the rents in Manhattan, living in a neighborhood like the East Village is seen as an instant signifier of class and, in a way, elitism. People judge and think you’re a clueless diva who refuses to go to Brooklyn on some misguided principle. This might be true for some. Manhattan is overrun by NYU trustafarians, people who come from the richest families in lame places like Arizona and Iowa, soulless bankers, and old people. It’s basically a borough comprised of rich uncool people. Even indie celebs who can afford a sprawling apartment in Manhattan decide to move to Brooklyn because the culture is perceived as being more vibrant and young. In many ways, they’re right. In the past three and a half years I’ve lived in Manhattan, I’ve noticed it lacking a certain kind of energy and youthfulness that exists in Brooklyn. By the way, I should mention that I go to Brooklyn a lot. Only three of my friends live in Manhattan and the rest live in places like Bushwick, Park Slope, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. Every time I get on the L train, I think to myself, “Most of my life is in Brooklyn. Why don’t I just live there?”

I stay in Manhattan because I’m weird. Since I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed living in neighborhoods that I don’t go out in. I like being separate from the “Drunk Me” who’s going to bars and getting his rocks off. I don’t want to walk outside my door and be faced with the mistakes of last night. I don’t really go out in Manhattan. I go to wherever my friends are in Brooklyn and even though I get annoyed by the commute, I like being the solo star who’s going back to the East Village at the end of the night. And to be honest, I am kind of obsessed with Manhattan’s vibe. As alive as Brooklyn is, it still shuts down at the end of the night. I need the sirens and the constant noise outside my window to lull me to sleep. Like I said, I’m weird.

It’s odd to think of Manhattan as dead. It’s not nor will it ever be. But it has undergone some changes in the past fifteen years. My stepmother lived here in the eighties and told me that no one went below 14th street because it was too dangerous. Today it is the exact opposite. Going above 14th street means you’re entering a boring world full of strollers and couture. Sick!

One day I will move to Brooklyn. One day I will tire of paying obscene amounts of money for a small apartment with no oven. I will join all of my friends on the other side of the bridge and I will be oh so very happy. But that day is not today. Today I live in Manhattan. Today I rip the scarlet letter off and live free of shame! TC mark

image – Salim Virjl

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Bryan Fuhr

    I grew up in Brooklyn. I remember when B was the Scarlet Letter. I'm never going back. Thank you for writing this posting just for me.

  • Jimmy

    what about the bronx and queens?

    • JTUR

      what's that?

      • Katgeorge

        LOL x 10

    • Uhnonnymus

      Those places don't have hipsters (read: white yuppies) in them, just scary minorities who'll mug you if you get off the wrong train stop!

    • Natalie

      Queens is kind of up and coming, all the old ladies that've lived there forever are dying out now and the yuppies seem to be taking their apartments, especially in places like LIC and Astoria. the Bronx is to far out to get anywhere, I can't imagine anyone wanting to live there.

      • dip

        in 50 years literally every single person will be a hipster, but people who work in the city will commute. not like the hipsters are going to replace the work force.

  • Katgeorge


    I can't live in Manhattan because I'm Australian and I need the COMMUNITY VIBE. BBQS AND BEERS IN THE PARK AND BIKE RIDING AND BAKE SALES. BUSHWICK 4 LYFE!

    My Manhattan girlfriends think Brooklyn is this whole other world… We sometimes go to fancy bars in Wburg for drinks and they ALWAYS get cabs even though they ALL live in walking distance of the L train and it's only 3 stops to Bedford. They often also REFUSE to come to Brooklyn. That's kewl cos I ALWAYS refuse to party in Manhattan. Why pay $6 for a Bud when you can pay $3?

  • Myemail

    My parents live in Greenwich Village. 'nuff said.

  • xra

    f'ing new yorkers


    ahhh to live an aspirational life; do tell of the wonders

  • CUinNYC

    You don't have an oven?

  • Marisa Tomei

    How much do you pay in rent, Ryan? (serious question)

    • Sophie

      Would also like to know, seems “relevant” too.

  • Alison

    South Brooklyn was where I could afford a place with a kitchen that didn't just have an oven but enough space to support someone who cooks daily and enough room for ever growing book and record collections. It was always less about Brooklyn vs. Manhattan but about what was important for me to have in my apartment.

  • Guy

    I swear that the bottom two thirds exists!

  • Anonymous

    Why is this an article? It doesn't have a point. So many articles on this website have titles that lead the reader to believe that there will be substantial content but end up being personal rants from the author (many by this author). What's the point of this? I'd really like to know.

  • kwy

    Don't know why anyone should be ashamed at all for living in a “nicer” area!
    It's refreshing to know that however much street cred you might garner from living in a gritty neighborhood, there are still sane people out there who prefer comfort, peace, and convenience over fleeting trends.

  • 925campclub

    My son went to NYU and lived in Brooklyn, Park Slope to be exact. But he was from New Orleans and went to public schools and worked in restaurants for summer jobs. He paid his way 100% to NYU and now has about $250,000 of school-related debt still to pay back. Perhaps your big conundrum is somewhat contrived.

  • Ana

    fuck you, ryan. you're so stupid. “living in a neighborhood like the East Village is seen as an instant signifier of class and, in a way, elitism.” fuck you. what is becoming of tc? is the whole world like this?

    • untimelymeds

      anger management issues?

    • Megan

      woah there ana, you need to slow your roll. just because your hiding behind a computer screen doesn't make it okay for you to act all psychopath about it. ryan rules, don't hate just because you can't relate!

      • Minster of Comments

        I hate both Ana and Ryan. How's about that?

  • Teukros

    This is what happens when you live your life cringing and puling about “first world problems” and “privilege” and all that BS.  You have to be  ashamed of who you are and where you come from.

    • dip

      you probably wrote this on an ipad you devilish bastard

  • gygga4
  • Noah Tourjee

    All I know is when I lived in the East Village I went to gay sex clubs every night, paid 400 dollars a month for electricity, had no insulation in the middle of winter, and paid a lot to live in a tiny cabinet. I loved it. 

    Now that I am back in brooklyn my cabinet is huge, I pay less, I have central air conditioning, and I go to Manhattan for forzen yogurt and wheat grass shots.

  • Aelya

    I submitted an article to TC, but it was turned down on the basis of being “too personal”. The editor meant that it would not be easy to relate to for the readers on here. The subject in question was my cat. Now. although none of you own my cat, many of you have cats (or other domestic animals that probably share endearing qualities with felines) and would probably be able to relate. 

    Owning animals or having a love for them, is a pretty universal thing. Living in New York, is not.

    No disrespect to any TC editor,  but if you didn't like the article, just say so. Don't give a reason like “it's too personal”, when a lot of us feel like this site has become

    • Minster of Comments

      Thought Catalog has editors? What's more, people write articles? I thought the articles already existed, trapped  in blocks of marble, waiting for some brave soul to gently chip them free.

  • jack

    can we call this website new york thought catalog? jesus christ

  • Brandon

    i'd rather live in manhattan too.

  • grace

    i live in ev and spend all my time in brooklyn too.  catch you on the L train sometime!

  • Uhnonnymus

    Manhattan is over, just move.

  • rhodeislander

    There's an entire world out there that doesn't give a fuck about the dickwaving going on between people who live in different boroughs of New York City. In fact, I dare say there are a fuckton of people who would enjoy nothing more than taking all the people who live in Manhattan and Brooklyn, floating them out to sea on an iceberg, and see who eats one another first. True story.

  • kt

    How much does it even cost to live in the East Village?  Does the Thought Catalog pay enough to live there plus sustain comfortably, with money to spare?  This is a real question.

  • Matt

    seriously a pathetic post…

blog comments powered by Disqus