28 Reasons NYC Is The WORST — & Best — Place On Earth

If you ask a New Yorker what they absolutely can't stand about life in the big city, they'll most likely throw a laundry list of woes your way: sky-high rents for the teeniest of tiny apartments; smelly, packed subway rides during commuting hours; sidewalks filled with aimlessly-wandering tourists, and so on. But, if you ask a New Yorker to share the greatest parts of the city they call home, the list is even longer.

The funny thing about NYC is how absolutely incredible and terrible it can be at the same time: The fast-pace can be exhausting, but it will also push you to bounds you never expected to reach; the lack of greenery and space can make even the most zen person go crazy, though it will also make you appreciate the serenity you do discover. Here, the pros definitely outweigh the cons — as long as you can figure out how to beat them at their own game.

Ahead, we talked to 28 NYC women who have living there down to a science. They may love to hate the city they call home — but they love it even more.

1 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Leandra Medine.
“My only real issue with NYC is what happens when the Christmas lights come down, and we're left with nothing but three thick months of frigid weather, frozen grounds, and backlogged Instagram photos from the summer before to propel us forward. Waking up to a new snowstorm, or the realization that for the 12627th time since February 1st I can't pick my clothes because the weather has to pick them for me, is soul-crushing. I know it sounds trivial, but talking without words and instead through fashion is my version of Prozac, and when that's compromised, cupcakes. Because it's too cold for ice cream!”
- Leandra Medine, Founder, Man Repeller
2 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Laila Gohar.
“People always ask me if I like living in New York. My answer is always 'some days.' There's so much pressure that comes with living here. And now with social media, it seems like everyone is having the time of their life constantly, which puts even more pressure on. Things are not always what they appear. I wish someone could make a huge public announcement to all the young, hardworking women of New York and tell them that they're doing great. Be gentle with yourselves. And when when it gets tough, you're not alone. We've all been there.

"For me, some days are tough, but then something serendipitous seems to happen that reminds me why I'm here, and keeps me here. I have so many stories like that. One day, I was feeling like I really sucked at life and I ran into Chuck Close (who I didn't recognize). He started talking to me and eventually invited me to his studio. I went a few days later, still not realizing who he was. As soon as I walked in, it hit me. He saw it all in my eyes. He then narrated his coffee table book for me, page by page, and talked about life, inspirations, and struggles for three hours. Then, he asked me if he could paint me; but that first we would need to become friends as he only paints people he knows. For the next two years, we saw each other once a week for lunch or dinner. Now, it's been five years. We're friends and he's painted me. I call him when I have boy problems. New York is special like that. “
- Laila Gohar, Founder, Sunday Supper
3 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Alexandria Tarver.
“I have to say, the hardest thing for me to deal with living in the city is the stress that comes with trying to meet its impossible demands. Financial, social, physical, psychological — it's all here, 24/7, and I worry constantly about the stress from all sides driving everyone, myself included, totally nuts. The thing is, for most of the people I'm close to, we know there is no logical quality-of-life reason for us to be here. We're here because of our vocational ambitions. I know, that at the end of the day, we're all crazy for being here in the first place. But the sense of camaraderie I feel with my fellow lunatic friends while we try to scrape together money for the bills, attend or create the events we couldn't dream of happening anywhere else, and wear ourselves out from doing everything, well, that helps to put my mind at ease and resign the lease for one more year.”
- Alexandria Tarver, Painter and Curator
4 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Liran Okanon.
"New York is an unusual habitat. Whenever I travel and come back, my heart rate shifts and the pace of the city becomes more salient. To preserve my cool, I find spots around the city where I know I can find myself. When I lived near Central Park, I'd grab a bunch of books and spend afternoons near the pond. In the winter, I did 'screen-less Sundays' where I bought the paper, left my phone at home, and took myself out for pancakes. My advice is to craft your own rituals and own them. And, never underestimate the power of airplane mode. You don't need to be available all the time. Actually, it's unhealthy to be. If you're always connected to others, how will you remember to connect with yourself?"
- Elizabeth Plank, Senior Editor and Host of Flip The Script, Mic
5 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Katie Notopoulos.
"When you get into your 30s, New York changes. Your old crew starts drifting away — people move for jobs or school, have kids and relocate to the suburbs, or have kids and can only see you for weekend brunch. The magical nights and excitement that make New York in your 20s worth it happen less and less. I guess the way you justify it is, you have to believe it's your home, and not some place you're spending a few years between the suburb you grew up in, and the suburb you raise kids in. That's really dark. Sorry, everyone."
- Katie Notopoulos, Senior Editor, Buzzfeed
6 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Haig.
"The thing that can be most difficult about the city is its rawness. Whether it's the non-stop sirens wailing through the night, the smells in the summer that assault your nostrils, the wall of heat that hits you like an oven as you step into the subway, or the cold winds in winter that burn your skin. At times, the city can feel like a non-stop-24/7-onslaught, and the only way that you can deal with it is to put on some sort of invisible, bulletproof armor before you step out your front door. An armor that makes you hard and impervious to the noises, sounds, and smells. But that’s the real challenge: being able to survive in such an intense, demanding environment without it turning you so hard that you can’t enjoy it or be able to stop, take it all in, and smile."
- Sophie Haig, Makeup Artist
7 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Laura Love.
“Besides the weather, which I am so sick of talking about — although it is a real issue, and it's actually insane that we only get two months of nice weather throughout the year — the apartment situation is pretty crazy. Since moving to Chelsea, my apartment has flooded three times. The leak came from two floors above, someone left the bath or the sink running...God knows what the apartment above me looks like. The first time, my bathroom ceiling nearly caved in while I was in the shower. The second time, I could barely sleep in my bedroom because the smell was so bad, and the third flood took out nearly half my living room wall. But, I still live here, and I love it.

"I mean, maybe the moral of the story is to get renter's insurance, but really it's just that New York keeps me coming back. I feel more productive here than anywhere else I've lived. If you can deal with all the stresses that come with living here, you kind of feel like you can deal with just about anything life throws your way!”
Laura Love, Model
8 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Nataf.
"The main thing that I find difficult about living in New York — and I'm guessing I'm not the only one — is the lack of space. When you’re young, starting a freelance career, and not having an office to go to every day, most people end up working from home. And by home, I mean a 450-square-foot walk-up apartment, that was incessantly loud, and where I was always looking for creative ways to live and work without going crazy. On the other hand, I find that this experience pushes us to really strive for more and hustle harder. I built the very first issue of Unconditional magazine out of that apartment. Had I been in any other city, with three times the amount of space, I truly believe I would not have necessarily pushed myself as hard I did here in New York.”
- Alex Nataf, Founder, Unconditional Magazine
9 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Amy Rose Spiegel.
"Any uneasiness that I have about living in New York comes from class. I think a lot about who is championed as a representative of New York in popular culture and by the city itself — of, say, Taylor Swift as its official 'Global Welcome Ambassador.' I am concerned about how the narratives surrounding well-off white NYC creatives (yoo-hoo! I am one of these, now that I am middle-class) obstructs the deeper and more prevalent reality of racial, economic, and sociological discord here. When you contrast the sunny, moneyed city as portrayed by a tiny elite, with the fact that the number of homeless children in New York has spiked to an all-time high, increasing by over 25% in the past few years, it all begins to feel a little gruesome.

"What keeps me in New York are the people who work hard to maintain their communities by allocating resources to the people in them who have been put at severe socioeconomic disadvantages: Public Advocate Letitia James, who makes class- and race-based issues some of her top political priorities; Jeremiah Moss, who runs #SaveNYC, a campaign to preserve and protect small businesses threatened by corporate developers; everyone who volunteers at their local food pantry; the people at No Kid Hungry, Hour Children (a rad volunteer group which benefits the children of incarcerated parents, plus the parents themselves), and so many other hard-muscling organizations in New York that support their neighbors. I try my best to make my choices about where to eat, live, spend money, and contribute time inside of this context. I feel very lucky to be here, but I know it isn't 'luck.' I love it here, and I'm never leaving, so I am dedicated to doing what I can so that that doesn't come at the cost of displacing someone else."
- Amy Rose Spiegel, Writer
10 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Julia Fox.
"New York is where I grew up, so naturally, I have attempted my great escape more times than I can count. Which usually resulted in me fidgeting on the plane home because I couldn't wait to return. Probably the hardest thing for me to grasp, is that everything is so rapidly changing. All the points of reference I had as an adolescent are no longer there. Stores I shopped at, bars I frequented, and restaurants I ate at after school. And what has taken their place are establishments that are created by strangers to target strangers. And by strangers, I mean people that are not from here. I think being a New Yorker is exotic at this point — they are so hard to come by! It's difficult sometimes not to feel a pang of contempt every once in a while. But, I think anyone would feel like that if their safe haven was constantly transforming, and trying to find comfort in it became increasingly impossible.

"What I do nowadays to keep myself happy is stay creative and active. In order to do so, I'm always thinking about my brand, Franziska Fox. I carry a sketchpad for when any new ideas pop into my head, and I'm always taking notes. To make sure I never lose my personal relationship with the city, I spend almost every night on the basketball courts. Most of the time, I'm alone. The courts are open all night, and when I'm on the court, just shooting hoops and listening to music, I feel whole again. More people should try to establish a more meaningful relationship with this place, because it's so easy to feel like a stranger here, even when you're from here. "
- Julia Fox, Designer, Franziska Fox
11 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Erin Yogasundram.
"Growing up, my favorite place in New York was St. Marks Place. It had so much flavor, and was an 'underground' destination. Hearing that Trash and Vaudeville is closing, and seeing multiple fast food restaurants now occupying the block makes me so sad. So many of the city's flavorful destinations are being overrun with big box corporate retail. I have so many good memories on that block. Although evolution is inevitable, I'm sad to see St. Marks become so…'un-cool'?"
- Erin Yogasundram, Founder, Shop Jeen
12 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Brianna Lance.
"My biggest issue with New York is a lack of plant life. I love the city for all its soul and the endless experiences, but in the mess of all the chaos, sometimes you just want to quietly sit with some trees. It would be so nice to have some time with some beauty that is not being accosted by strollers, tourist, and noise — just a very quiet place to look at nature. Rome has this down; for being such a big city, it seems everyone there has some sort of terrace or roof full of greens. It's the same with L.A., a city that I don't think I could picture myself living in, but does have its landscaping down pat. My personal way of combating this has turned me into a crazy plant lady. My apartment now just looks like a garden store. That way, at least every day I get some quiet time with nature."
- Brianna Lance, Creative Director, The Mirror Cube Design Curator, and Editor, So It Goes Magazine
13 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Noah Kalina.
"Having moved from L.A. a year ago, there are definitely some challenges I have had to adjust to — namely, living without a car. You use it for so much more than transport and lugging things around. It's a mobile dressing room for going to the bar after work. It's a soundproof studio to sing your lungs out. Even in my solidly-walled apartment, I won't sing, and I miss it. Where do people go to cry their asses off in semi-private at 3 a.m.? I'm still looking for answers to these things.

"Still, I'm not moving back to L.A anytime soon. If you're moving there to get away from the craziness of this city, you're just signing up for a different kind of drama you aren't prepared for. It's funny, I once won an award for writing about how much I love living in L.A., and yet, here I am. Don't bother unpacking your boxes, you'll be back to New York soon enough."
- Tiffany Lee, Freelance Copywriter and Visual Storyteller
14 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Tiphanie Yanique.
"I didn't move to Brooklyn to become a published writer or to find a cute boyfriend or to live among cool artist types. I moved because I got a job in a town just outside of the city, and that town didn't have a bookstore. When I first went to Brooklyn to visit a friend, I walked by four bookstores just to get from the train to her apartment. Four! Yes, Brooklyn was my place. But, then, I became a published writer, and my cute boyfriend became my handsome husband and father of our two kids, and my cool artist neighbors all left for Maplewood or some other place in New Jersey or deeper in Brooklyn. And rent kept going up and we kept moving. Until we found the perfect subsidized apartment in perfect Clinton Hill.

"But, it seemed that New York just wouldn't let me settle in — not unless I got rich enough to buy my own place or until I traded in my children and other responsibilities for a couch surfer's backpack. See, soon after we moved in to perfect apartment, the management company began illegally bullying tenements to move. We held on. But, then my husband got a job in, well, a town just outside of the city that doesn't have a bookstore. But that town had good schools and affordable housing, and anyway, we were tired of being bullied. Turns out that the closest bookstore is just one town away. I can drive there in eight minutes. Not as cool as walking 15 minutes to my awesome Brooklyn bookstore. This bookstore doesn't host a rotation of wonderful writers, but they do host a pajama story time for the under ten set. Which my children think is pretty cool."
- Tiphanie Yanique, Author, Land of Love and Drowning
15 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Paula Maldonado.
"New York is a tough place to stand out. Instead of being overwhelmed, I use it as a source of motivation to drive my passions to success."
- Paula Maldonado, Luxury Brand and Design Consultant
16 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Caroline Ventura.
"Everyone and their mother talks about how hard the grind is here in New York, and that this city can eat you alive if you let it. I find that the pace can be exhausting, but instead of focusing on how tiring it is, I try to look at it in a more exhilarating way. Living in New York is all about balance — I work hard, and then I take time to relax. It always has to be both equal parts work and leisure. That way, I don't get burnt out on one end or bored on the other, and both sides of me — the fast-paced city-loving girl, and the girl that just wants to lay in a hammock near a river — are both satisfied. I find that when I am tired of living in the city and feel like calling it quits, that's the moment I need to leave in order to appreciate what I do have here."
- Caroline Ventura, Jewelry Designer, BRVTVS
17 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Krissy Jones.
"I love NYC. It’s still the best city in the world, as far as I’m concerned. There is certainly a love/hate dynamic, though. The one thing that is a nightmare to me is real estate. The process of finding an apartment, or any space here, is insane, expensive, and cutthroat. I was recently nearly scammed by a broker — there is lots of greed in that industry. But, at the same time, I’ve seen some of the most amazing architecture and real estate in this city. It’s a double-edged sword. Part of what makes some spaces in here so great is how rare they are, and how hard they are to find — and to keep."
- Krissy Jones, Yoga Teacher and Cofounder, Sky Ting Yoga
18 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Billy Farrell, BFA NYC.
"Ugh, the traffic! I mean sometimes I literally call myself a commuter because I live in Greenwich Village, and I work on the Upper East Side. 45 minutes up, and 45 minutes down. And on top of it all, I’m a real, born-and-bred New Yorker, so I'm always in a rush and always over-scheduled."
- Claire Distenfeld, Owner, Fivestory
19 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Eva Tsang.
"I can go on and on about how much I hate commuting in NYC. The subways are overcrowded, and quite frankly, in need of a proper scrub down. Luckily, New York is a city for walking, and that's the best way to discover how charming this city is. I'll pass up my MetroCard for a pair of comfy shoes any day!"
- Eva Tsang, Founder, Trotter
20 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Liza Przystup.
“So many woes, so little time:

- Never not quiet
- That crazy guy outside my window
- That crazy van playing loud-ass music outside my window
- Loud Polish men yelling at each other and dropping bowling balls on the floor, a.k.a. renovations in the apartment above me
- One. Closet.

"But then, New York goes and does something subtle and charming, like showing up with a beautiful sunset or hearing the strains of someone practicing the trumpet in their apartment through their open window, and all is forgiven. Honestly, the dream of up and leaving is very real, and upstate is looking better and better every day. But, I just don't think I could quit the city cold turkey. The ultimate set-up would be having a spot upstate and a spot here, because really, you almost can't fully appreciate one without the other.”
- Lisa Przystup, Florist, James's Daughter Flowers
21 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Chloe Kernaghan.
"I've been in New York City for 10 years (this month!), and I've had plenty of ups and downs with this town. One thing that I have love/hate feelings toward is the rawness that the city cultivates. It can be incredible to feel vibrant and awake walking a lonely avenue at 2 a.m., or to meet people and experience places in a way that leaves you feeling more alive and flourishing. However, sometimes all that raw energy can get ugly. People lash out at each other, there can be a lot of hurt that people release on those around them, and the realities of day-to-day life can be rough, tough, and unforgiving. But the fact that this city gives you both, the extreme joys and extreme angsts, is all part of the greatness that is New York. Its a constant test to see how you can find a sense of balance. As a yoga teacher/practitioner, the city is always teaching me lessons. How to be a good person but still keep it real, you know?"
- Chloe Kernaghan, Yoga Teacher and Cofounder, Sky Ting Yoga
22 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Bandier.
"I love the pace and action of Manhattan. Nothing excites me more than living in the city that doesn't sleep — but the noise pollution, sirens, and horns that go off at all times of day and night can sometimes be unbearable. To drown out the noise, I have an incredible playlist and noise-cancelling headphones, which I keep on me at all times. At the moment, I'm obsessed with Dr. Dre's new album, TLC, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar. Music inspires me, and always puts me in a good mood."
- Jennifer Bandier, Founder, Bandier
23 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Megan Bowman Gray.
“After eight years living in New York as an L.A. transplant, I am still figuring out how to make the city work for me, and not the other way around. I have to admit, the hardest thing about living in New York is the dramatic, never-ending, freezing winters. At first, I was so excited to leave the always sunny and 70 degree L.A. What girl who works in fashion is not over the moon to finally be able to change her wardrobe seasonally? I must admit, the reality of this kicked in around February of my first year in the city. But, after being introduced to Uniqlo’s HEATTECH by a friend, it changed my entire perspective. I learned how to prepare for the season’s extremes — and to make sure to book every job in L.A. during these months! There is no city quite like New York, though, and I cannot imagine myself ever leaving!”
- Megan Bowman Gray, Stylist
24 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Laura O'Neill.
"It can definitely be difficult living in a concrete jungle. Lucky for me, I've always been able to find apartments with outdoor space. I moved to New York eight years from Australia, and have being living in Greenpoint ever since. I'm not sure I would have lasted this long if I'd ended up in a tiny Manhattan apartment."

- Laura O'Neill, Cofounder, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
25 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Jen Steele.
“It wasn't until yesterday that the punch in the gut hit hard and I thought to myself, ‘fuck it.’

"My bike was destroyed by a truck. I was downtown at work, and when I went out for coffee, my eyes, as they do most days I ride, gravitated toward where my bike was parked and locked. The sight I saw was devastating. My jaw dropped and my legs felt funny. My beautiful, three-speed, vintage, grass green Raleigh was clobbered and pushed to its side. The wheel was bent in a half and the frame, also. It was game over for her.

"I ran across the street and just stared down. Part of what I love about working downtown is the time I get to ride in the morning, exercise, and movement of energy. All good things. And my bike was a gift. It was special and had some spirit. Some big truck pulled up on to the sidewalk and took it down, hard. What a scene. That made me sad, but it also didn't make me feel the need to leave the city. There are certain realities you have to swallow here and move with or they will wear you down and leave you feeling broken.”
- Jen Steele, Editor-in-Chief, Girls I Know
26 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Angi Welsch.
“New York is a city of drastic extremes. The highs are higher, the lows lower. My apartment is too tiny to contain both the bulky coats I need for its harsh winters, and the diaphanous dresses I need to make it through summer, sweating as little as possible (impossible). The two groups meet each other twice a year with a seasonal storage switch. I love/hate my walk-in closet dreams.”
- Anna Gray, Editor-at-Large, Girls I Know
27 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Daphne Javitch.
“My biggest woe is the absence of nature. When I think about all of us piled on top of each other and all of the concrete, it doesn't feel right. I want more oxygen. More sun. More negative ions! I deal with it by taking weekends and holidays in places where nature is abundant. But, I really want a vegetable garden (insert granny emoji here) so an eventual move is not out of the question!"
- Daphne Javitch, Founder, TEN Undies
28 of 28
Photo: Courtesy of Miki Agrawal.
"The community I am a part of is what I love about the city — everyone has the same desire to change the world, and it's incredibly inspiring. And that's what keeps me here. New York also attracts amazing talent. People come to the city to 'make it,' and for that reason, I can find amazing motivated people to work with."
- Miki Agrawal, Author, Do Cool Sh*t

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