New Yorkers have always worn their stress as a badge of honor (we’re number one!), refusing to let its neurochemical poisons reduce us to bent and bitter assholes, allowing it instead to power our ambitious quest for power, fame and money (how’s that working out for you?). But here’s the thing—is it more stressful to live in Manhattan or Brooklyn? I know, the intuitive answer is Manhattan, the island with the tall buildings where The Devil Wears Prada takes place, but there are definitely some stressors to consider when living in quaint, idyllic Brooklyn:
Yeah, we all know about this… Waiting for the G train, getting stuck on the B62 during a knife fight, swaying half asleep on the morning L platform as consecutive crammed trains pass by, getting to Williamsburg from anywhere else in the borough (well, except Greenpoint)… Commuting within Brooklyn can be very stressful—at least in Manhattan you know what you’re getting (and how to get there).
2. Being Poor.
Seriously, I feel like Manhattan’s reached a point where you do, in fact, have to have a steady level of income to live there, the kind of income that requires you to knuckle down and actually get a full-time job. And sure, real jobs are stressful, and you’ll still have to worry about cable bills and what constitutes biz-casual, but that steady paycheck can be pretty good for peace of mind. In certain parts of Brooklyn, however, where the cost of living approaches near normalcy, it is still possible to hustle out a desperate “bohemian” existence, paycheck to paycheck, living five to a railroad, eating cereal twice a day, in pursuit of the non-40 hour work week. And, well, hustling paycheck to paycheck, not knowing when the next one is coming, is really fucking stressful.
Dude, seriously. In 2009 there were 173 murders in Brooklyn, compared to only 55 in Manhattan. Also, gangs, and getting stuck in the middle of their delightful initiations (I turned a corner once, on the south side of Williamsburg, and ran into a dozen youths attacking another youth with, well, sticks. I yelled “hey, stop!” at which point I was told to “keep the fuck out of it.” Stress!)
4. The Anxiety of Youth.
There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn (ahem, I live in one), that are dizzyingly disproportionate in their demographic ratio of normal people to attractive post-collegiate youth. This can be stressful as one ages. It can also be stressful to wonder about all the cool-kid youth culture happening all around you, in exotic semi-legal loft spaces, and not be able to find it (unless you have younger people on the staff of the magazine you edit to help you, which, well, even they won’t tell me what’s going on).
4B. The Anxiety of Taste
But it’s not just the kids! While I love the insanely, obsessively curated connoisseurship of gentrified Brooklyn (artisanal everything, everywhere), it can also be super fucking stressful to be surrounded by people who are better looking than you, with nicer clothes, eating at fancier restaurants, living more fulfilling lives. Living in Manhattan’s high-density diversity actually provides a bit more opportunity for the kind of blank anonymity that is such a luxurious side-effect of city living. You can really disappear (and boy does that take the edge off stress).
I actually like the fact that much of Brooklyn is not open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But there are times (mainly when I can’t sleep) that I gaze across to the shining island of shininess and wish it delivered. Also, hospitals, gah. There’s a reason they call it “Woodhell,” people. My wife (born in Manhattan, lived in Brooklyn for 15 years) has told me she would actually rather die than go to Woodhull. So that’s pretty stressful for me personally.