New York City NYC Moving Guide

The Pros and Cons of Living in a New York City Apartment

living room decor

For most urbanites, living in less space is merely a measly sacrifice for all the fringe benefits that accompany city life. And believe it or not, life can be easier living in a New York City apartment. While the sprawl of suburban life is attractive to a lot of folks – it's why they exit the city for greener pastures and bigger houses on Long Island, or in West Chester and northern New Jersey – staying in NYC has its advantages. If you're a true city dweller, you'd never give up living in the heart of the cultural mecca that is New York, also where everything you could want is at your fingertips. Because in reality, living can even be better (and more fun) in the big city.

Here's why New York City apartments can be pretty great.


The art of multi-tasking takes on a whole new meaning.

One of the greatest advantages to living in a New York apartment is the close quarters. Yes, living small can be a good thing. I no longer jog up and down stairs from my laundry room to my living room. Instead, watching TV, washing clothes, and preparing a gourmet meal can happen simultaneously because my washer/dryer is in the kitchen, which is open to my living room. I never miss an episode of The Bachelor, and I usually watch it from the floor while eating a meal at my coffee table.

You’ll be forced to edit.

Nothing forces you to edit like living in a small space. Yes, you could rent a storage space (even if you pare down, you'll probably have to store seasonal items), but it's liberating to know that you own fewer belongings and that everything has its place. You'll think twice before making random purchases, and you may be motivated to donate those things you haven't used or worn in two years.

Cleaning house is a breeze.

clean and tidy kitchen area

Provided that you minimize your clutter (use storage pieces, keep closets organized and edit belongings like mentioned above), then keeping your small apartment tidy shouldn't take more than a few hours. When I lived in a 2,800 square foot house (pre-New York), I could've spent a day and sometimes two each week cleaning.

Your commute won’t suck the life out of you.

Citi bike rentals in New York City

One of the major perks of living in NYC is that most city commutes are 40 minutes or less (especially in Manhattan), unless you live far from public transit or your job is miles away from your apartment. And when living within New York City, commuters typically have several options to get to work. If one train line is down, there's usually another train, or a train to a bus, Citi Bike or even walking is sometimes possible. For the luckiest New Yorkers who work from home, they can roll out of bed and land at their desk in seconds, so there's no commute at all.

But there are some disadvantages to living in a New York apartment too…


You might be stuck with your floor plan.

apartment buildings in New York City

Rotating furnishings when you want a refresh may not be so simple, or possible at all. One of the disadvantages of living in the city means you're dealing with the tiniest of spaces. There's often only one way to make the furniture layout work, so you won't have the option of changing things up every spring or fall. Still, you can give your New York abode an updated look with accessories, which require minimal investment and take up little space.

There’s lack of space for guests.

In a tiny flat, you'll be hard-pressed to find a comfy spot for your sister to sleep. Sure, there's always the living room pull-out sofa option, and that works between BFFs and close family members, but not for other houseguests. I recommend coming up with a list of affordable hotels for friends and family.

You’ll have minimal closet space.

Most small apartments (especially those in prewar buildings) lack closets, so you'll need to get creative with storage by adding shelves, armoires and under-bed boxes. Building a closet in an unused corner is another viable option for storage. And if you're anything like Carrie Bradshaw (and you don't cook!) ovens are ideal for storing sweaters, scarves, etc., or can even be used as a mini kitchen pantry.

Entertaining can present some challenges.

That holiday shindig you've dreamt of hosting will do best as an open house when guests arrive at different times. Sit-down dinners will be limited to four or six, and any other soirees will need strategic planning to pull off without a hitch. Still, New Yorkers get really good at throwing parties in fewer square feet, and you'll more than likely do the same.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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