Top 10 Brooklyn Real Estate Listings: A Carriage House in Brooklyn Heights, a Studio in Park Slope. Real Estate Market. Mar 8, 2020 • 09:30am.
Is New York City a terrible place to live?
The arrogance of these answers match the braggadocio of this city. If you haven’t noticed that the answers are arrogant and kind of aggressive, then you’ll probably be immune to New York’s negative sides. I respect that, but it isn’t me.
There are three main arguments listed in the responses so far (all of which have been suspiciously pro-NY):
(1) Liking/disliking this place is not about fast-paced life vs slow existence. It probably was for many centuries, but in a globalized world with the internet as our Hermes (the Greek one, not fashion house), a New York electron travels no faster than one in a sandy well-connected nook of a Pacific island somewhere, say Niue. You won’t get your news faster here, you won’t find the latest fashions or ingredients that are not available on some other nook of the interweb.
(2) Multicultured: liking New York is not synonymous with appreciating other cultures. That argument is much peddled but very untrue. I’ve lived in Moscow, London, Lyon, Geneva, Havana, Vienna, and I can tell you that none of them are plagued with the same segregation problems as NYC: you’ll rub shoulders with blacks when you’re ordering coffee or putting a dollar in their cups; Latinos will be coming to fix your boiler, do repairwork, maybe cut your hair; Eastern Europeans will be doing the low-paid office dogsbody jobs; Indians will fix your computers; an Asians(as they call everyone in China and south-east Asia) will be your dentist and dermatologist. Am I tarring everyone with the same brush? No, it’s New York that tars them with the same brush or rather ensconces them them into an economic borehole. Most of the people don’t seem to realize that the interaction involved in having a black guy shining your sheeny shoes is very different to brushing shoulders with said black guy as your neighbour. No, New York is not multicultural, it’s multi-apartital.
(3) Democrats vs Republicans: it’s unlikely that your political persuasion is what will set you against this city. Most of the people on the left here are more Milton Friedman than Vladimir Lenin. Remember that this is one of the cities that inspired Ayn Rand.
This forum, and my interactions in the day-to-day life here (I’ve lived in Brooklyn for two years now), have helped me to break down those who like this city into the following categories:
(1) The immigrants who seek economic opportunities or political freedom: If you like the dollar, the dollar will like you. I have taken hundreds of hired rides here and I could count on one hand the number of drivers (all immigrants) who have said they dislike New York. This is a great place to make money if back home you can’t. It doesn’t make it a great home.
(2) The NYC lifers: and this is a large group. NY Post once reported that 52% of people living in New York believed NYC to be the greatest city on earth…and that 52% of people living in New York had never lived in a different city. Too lovely a statistic to forget.
(3) The bright-light moths: You are unlikely to be drawn to NY out of love of your fellow man. Most people here came for fame or fortune and, to that end, no setback will faze them. If they are earning well, they’ll probably be able to spend it on entertainment outlets galore, which will further immunize them against selflessness.
(4) The ignorant: I’m pretty sure this is an American thing, not just a NY one, but a staggering number of people are unaware of the basics of inequality, recycling and the environment, so these aspects of NY life do not irk them.
(5) The gullible: Remember that advertising in its modern guise was invented on Madison Avenue. They are past masters at selling the myth that NYC is the greatest place on earth and the gullible believe them.
(6) The Stockholm Syndrome prisoners: This covers many, many people. A one-bedroom apartment in most of Manhattan and some of Brooklyn is about $3,000/month. The added costs of groceries (30% higher than the US average) and a myriad other things make it hugely expensive. If all told, you have to spend $5,000 per month to live here, for the interest of your sanity, you may as well depict the place as amazing, otherwise you’ll have to face the fact that burning all your income.
(7) The rich: If it means nothing to you to blow $100 a head on a meal or regularly pay $10 (tip and tax included) for a beer, then this city has ample opportunities for you. Be aware though that wealth is relative and to be in the top 1% here, you’d probably be having to earn upwards of $200k per year.
(8) The Americans: This category is based on some of the answers received so far. If you live in America and want to stay in a city, you look to San Fran or New York, perhaps a few others like Houston or Chicago as plan b. If all you’ve ever experienced is the US of A, then you have no yardstick against which to measure how the rest of the world lives, and to realize what an ugly cesspit most of the USA is.
So those are the main categories of admirers. Here are a load of things that make New York shit, just off the top of my head:
(1) Subway is the worst in the world (of the 15 or so subways I know well)
(2) NY real estate brokers – ‘nuf been said about this before.
(3) NY landlords/landladies – ‘nuf been said about this before.
(4) Poor quality of maintenance service here – could write a book on this, but I imagine whoever is reading this does not have a special interest and plumbing and electrics.
(5) Large number of corrupt co-op, condo and property moguls because of loose property laws.
(6) The entire NY map is divided by race, with whites and Jews in nice areas, blacks, Latinos and Asians in bad areas. There are exceptions of course, but if that’s even 75% true, then you’ve got one helluva problem.
(7) The eclectic buzz of NY has been replaced by the homogenization of Starbucks/Dunkin’ Donuts/Duane Reade in every neighbourhood bar a few
(8) Buses often simply don’t run. Spot me a white person who uses a bus in Brooklyn.
(9) Bodegas and delis – all are overpriced and gimmicky. A dying breed too.
(10) Putting the damn price on items – so many places fail to stamp their prices. The oldest con artist trick in the book.
(11) People – everywhere
(12) Freebies – effectively don’t exist as there are so many people here that they rush on them like cockroaches on your breakfast cereal.
(13) Cockroaches and water roaches
(14) Mice and rats
(15) Nastiness of people rushing about their daily lives without a care for those of others or helping the disabled, pregnant or bereft
(16) Flakiness – people cancel very regularly and think it’s excusable and no explanation be given. Most people simply have too much exposure to human beings and are pretty glad to shed a friend here and there.
(17) Shopping is really not good here. Maybe in the old days when New York was the only place you could get things. Now it’s just overpriced and busy.
(18) Parks and playgrounds – all under bridges because it’s cheaper real estate. I’ll get onto the exceptions of Central Park and Prospect Park later.
(19) Noise noise noise – everywhere
(20) Tourists – they look so miserable! Drawn like moths to the bright lights of Time Square, they getting frazzled by its blandness.
(21) Reviews – you can’t trust any reviews in this city (Yahoo, Google, etc.) because they’re either pushed ads or have been filled in by overenthusiastic NYorkers who have never been anywhere else.
(22) Inside – hard to enjoy anywhere because NYorkers are so pointlessly loud
(23) Plastic – given with everything
(24) Walking – is NOT nice around New York unless you like spending most of your time waiting at traffic lights
(25) Lack of supermarkets – food deserts everywhere. If you’re in a nice area, only expensive options; if you’re in a shit area, nothing or only poor quality.
(26) Badly connected airports – JFK to a neighbourhood 20 minutes away as the crow flies: 1.5 hours.
(27) Self-centred people talking solely about themselves
(28) Lawyers – trying to sue everyone for everything
(29) School fees – preschool near where I live in Brooklyn: $4,200/month per kid under 2…$5,200 if you fancy Chinese immersion for your under-2–year-old.
(30) Delivery fees – really high. The days of cheap NY pizza are over.
(31) Convenience fees – In any half-decent restaurant. Google it. Maybe add the word “fraud”.
(32) Queuing – for everything. Many NYorkers join queues just to see what all the fuss is about. And I guess because they’ve got nothing better to do.
(33) Tipping – I know this an American sickness, but here they will collar you for paying less than your 20%.
(34) Accosted – on the street at every turn for the social organizations that Americans can’t be bothered to pay for themselves because of their obsession with low taxes.
(35) Internet mafia – Like in many places in America your choice is between Verizon and Spectrum. And both will give you subpar service.
(36) Public pools – more like concentration camps. Ridiculous rules like no mobile phones, no backpacks, must shower even if you’re not going to swim
(37) Crumbling infrastructure – post offices, train stations, you name it.
(38) Poor signage – particularly in subways where arrows to the same place often point in opposite directions. Street signs are little better.
(39) No escape – The genius of NY is that there’s nowhere to get away to. You’re trapped between the Atlantic, the hopeless desolation of New Jersey or the expensiveness of Westchester and Boston.
(40) Getaway costs – because there is nowhere to escape, flights or train journeys cost a fortune.
(41) Central Park/ Prospect Park – These are not parks. They’re stylized, manicured gardens in which dogs and pets in many places aren’t allowed to walk on the grass and every nice square metre is occupied. Giant roads furrow through the middle of them with angry cyclists or hulking rubbish trucks.
(42) Garbage – all over the streets. Summer spells a pungent aroma.
(43) Citibikes – Crap system: expensive if not monthly and you can hire them for only 45 minutes at a time before having to check them in again. Like having a bike that’s on parole.
(44) Cinemas – NYorkers love to speak their minds to the screen. Shame you can’t hear what’s going on as a result, though I’m sure it’s less interesting than what they have to say.
(45) Concrete jungle – exactly that.
(46) Overhyped buildings – have you seen any of the new buildings being erected along the East River or by Hudson Yards or late? Glass walkie-talkies – the era of beautiful skyscrapers was in 1930s.
(47) Vacant lots – probably a scourge in every city these days, but about 1/3 of the cities retail lots now seem empty. Regardless of the reasons, that’s a real eyesore.
(48) Traffic – Obviously
(49) Motorways – Jane Jacobs saved NY from hulking great highways, but Robert Moses had his way with them in much of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens
(50) Few discounts – on anything in supermarkets. There are so many customers held hostage to them that they can do whatever pleases them.
(51) Carding – an American obsession, I know, but pretty ridiculous when my 60-year-old friend can’t get into a bar because he left his passport in the hotel room.
(52) Full-party restaurant rules – Many restaurants apply a rule that you can’t sit down until each of your party is there. We once had a group of 10 coming from all over New York, which left 8 of us, including screaming kids, hanging around in the rain for an hour.
(53) Broker fees – Almost every city in the world (including America) has laws to prevent the tenant getting over necessarily burned by the broker fees, and charge it instead to the landlord. Not here, where the landlord (who to have an apartment in NYC is most probably already wealthy) pays nothing and the tenant often has to shell out about $10,000 just to move apartment.
(54) Child guards – One of the rules they have introduced here is that if you have a kid under 7 in the apartment, any non-ground-floor apartment must have huge window guards on it. Meaning you can’t open the window. I looked up the origin of this: some 1950s politician desperately seeking a political win. Number of deaths from kids falling out of windows: pretty much zero then, pretty much zero now.
(55) Opening windows – You can’t open the windows of most apartments in skyscrapers and high-rises in NYC because of some disproved theories from the 1930s that this’ll create pressure vacuums and bring down the building.
(56) Washing machines – most houses are not fitted to have them. They could have moved with the times like in any other city, but they didn’t because that’d involve the landlord spending money. Again, they claim it’s for safety as it averts the potential for flooding.
(57) Drainage – in most buildings is crap. Queue flooding anyway.
(58) Closeness of subway stations – Look at a map of Manhattan and the East River. Count the number of subway stations east if Lex and west of 8th Av. Next to none. If you live in those places, you’ll often have to walk a good 30 minutes to get to a subway station.
(59) Subway connections – the subway network originates in the individual construction projects of three private companies. Where their lines meet, you have to get out of the station and walk to get on the next line. The overall map of subway lines is illogical and was originally driven by the profit-seeking of private enterprise.
(60) Climate – This city has three extreme seasons really: Muggy and humid (June to September); pleasant (October, April, May); bitterly cold (November to March). That’s three months a year of good weather and nine months of bad.
(61) Shadows – as taller and more expensive glass behemoths get erected left, right and centre, an increasing number of people are left looking out not at New York, but at a wall or a window a few dozens of metres away.
(62) Construction work – everywhere, constantly.
(63) Digging up the road – many roads need work, but the funding seems to be localized: rich areas like the Brooklyn neighbourhood where I live have their main street repaved every year, whereas others haven’t had theirs done in decades.
(64) Guests – people don’t host because their apartments are too small/too tightly sardined next to others. This leaves you no choice but to go to loud and overcrowded bars, tipping $1 per already expensive drink.
(65) Drinking – this seems to be an American thing but people have a really immature attitude to drink here. If you drink without a really special occasion, you’re assumed to be an whino or well on the way to becoming one. On the other hand, when it is a special occasion, people get immoderately wasted and black out ‘coz they can’t hold their liqueur.
(66) Monetary meetups – When I moved here and before knowing anyone, I tried the classic websites that had served me so well elsewhere: Meetup and Couchsurfing. In both cases, the only events that were available were sponsored shit. e.g. Come along and try the best ramen in the city. Surprise, surprise, the host works at the restaurant. Or, let’s meet in this great bar at 6pm – the one bar in the neighbourhood that doesn’t do happy hour.
(67) Radio, YouTube and TV advertising – how does anyone in this land watch or listen to these things without pulling a gun to their head. Adverts come on every few minutes – no wonder Americans have such trouble paying attention.
(68) Look into my eyes – New Yorkers are really really bad at looking at you in your eyes. I guess they’re subconsciously looking for the next opportunity, worrying about meeting their bills or calculating whether they can spin any profit out of this convo.
(69) “Get out of the water” – What good is it being surrounded by water if you can’t enter the East River or Hudson River? Compare that to the Danube or the Bosphorus.
(70) The heat of the subway – You can frack the fuck out of the earth, but you can’t put air con in a subway? Gimme a break.
(71) Infants and babies – Manhattan has one of the lowest baby and infant/head of population rates of any big cities. It is simply not made for them. What sort of city is a city of adults? You ever tried taking a stroller down the crumbling pavements of Manhattan or Brooklyn. You’d need one designed by Land Rover.
(72) Bread – so many centuries of immigrants from good bread-producing countries: why does New York struggle so badly to make good bread? And no, Whole Foods bread is still nowhere near anything produced in most Germanic countries.
(73) American made – in fact, a lot of what is produced in America is shoddy quality. Goods are often marked as “European quality” to indicate that it comes from a place that cares about quality. There’s a story of a Russian artist who travelled across the USA in the 1930s. When his pencils ran out, he asked where he could buy some decent pencils in the US. He soon found out that the US didn’t manufacture those because it only produced goods that would have a large enough market.
(74) Snow clearance – in New York, it snows about 15–20 days a years and yet there’s virtually no public policy in place to clear the sidewalks. Each owner is responsible for the area in front of their residence/store. The result is a patchwork of impassable snowdrifts.
(75) NYC pets – it’s ghastly to be a pet in NYC. See note 71 about babies: as many people can’t afford to have babies, they have pets to care for instead. These pets have a horrible existence: it is standard to keep them in desolate crates within already cramped apartments.
(76) Dogs in parks – It is prohibited to walk animals on almost all of the scant grass in the city. Some dogs here will spend their life here barely setting a paw on anything natural. Have you seen the dogwalks in parks they set aside for pooches? Desolate places.
(77) Flags – what is with all these American flags everywhere? The nationalism here is on a par with the Third Reich.
(78) The city that never sleeps – sorry, absolute tosh. Bars stop serving drinks at 3 or 4 in the morning and start turning on the lights or making the music crap. Yes, they don’t close, but you want out of there soon enough. Similarly, most general stores open at 10am.
(79) Theatre – I like the theatre and musicals. $250/decent ticket? And you wonder why there are few locals under 50 who go regularly.
(80) Ticketmaster – owns this city and you can’t get to many cultural events without stumping up for their fees…and they are disgusting: 50% added to any ticket. For e.g. admission to a recent show cost me $25…plus a $7.75 convenience charge, a $2 facility charge and $2.50 for shipping = $12.25.
(81) Pavement beggars – The beggars in this city are often very passive-aggressive in ya face. If you walk past them, expect “Have a wonderful, day, sir!”
(82) Subway beggars – A category unto themselves. A day doesn’t go by travelling in the summer without hearing one of these woe-begone stories as they schlep their belongings from carriage to carriage.
(83) Delivery everywhere – Yeah right. What they fail to mention is that delivery costs a lot of money, a lot of which doesn’t go to the actual deliverer. Take Dominos: It would have cost me $6 for a medium pizza the other day. Great! But then there’s taxes, fair enough, a delivery fee of $4.50 regardless of how far you live – and that fee just goes to the branch not the individual, and then you’re expected to pay the deliverer at least $5 tip. That $6 pizza ends up costing you $17.50. Lies.
(84) Funding for bog-standard social goods – Because Americans believe that people should pay their own way for everything, there are endless drives for funding. Take YMCA, a great institution, but constantly desperate for you to tip your hand on top of you $70/month membership fee. That’s without mentioning all the clipboard salesmen you pass on the sidewalk.
(85) Lying prices – New York prices don’t include tax and sometimes other fees with Orwellian names like “convenience fees” or “fulfillment fees”. Don’t get me started on tips. This means that the glittering number that enticed you into the place is not the price you will pay.
(86) American stadiums – I went to one ice hockey game of the New York Islanders. 90 minutes of adverts and about 20 minutes of sport. The bashing of your brain with constant endorsement announcements is terrifying.
(87) Construction workers – Usually migrant workers who are treated like shit. They complain? they get fired and threatened with deportation.
(88) Trade unions – The lack of trade unions means that the above explanation applies to many industries. Slavery is far from dead here.
(89) School funding – Schools are funded by the tax pot from the immediate area. Who is surprised then that the rich areas have great schools with kids guaranteed a gleaming future and the poor areas have entrenched poverty?
(90) Tip jars – Everywhere! At the local newsagents, the dry cleaners, the concessions stands, the hospital porter’s lodge, the theme park entrance, the kids’ lemonade stand on the sidewalk.
(91) Tip culture – If you don’t pay a tip you’re held ransom to shit service.
(92) Inane announcements – “If you see someone attacking someone…”, “When you are on the escalator, don’t go over the railings”, “If you see a crime, please…” Why do these things even need to be said?
(93) Classic New York pizza – I live in an area of Brooklyn that is famed for its pizza. I don’t know if its a new regression in standards, but pizza places are increasingly downgrading their doughy filling NY pizza for crappy “northern Italy” style thin crust. The crust becomes wafer thin to the point that you can’t pick up the slice without the pizza flopping in on itself. A few places still keep things how they should (shout out to Roebling Pizza, Williamsburg), but almost all are just pale imitations.
That’s 93 things and counting but…I’ll stop there, because I guess you get the idea that this place is not all it’s cracked up to be.