How do you find a word that means NYC? Local news outlet PIX11 sought to find out in a survey today asking New Yorkers to describe Big Apple living in just three words. In the spirit of New York itself, responses were…varied across a spectrum of those who wanted to be buried under the Zabar’s deli aisle and those who may want to consider relocating to a remote cabin in the woods. But across the board, there was one word that almost everyone could agree on — “EXPENSIVE.”

Word Cloud New York Three Words
What are your three words that describe New York City living?

“Too damn expensive,” said one user, while a second noted that living in the city is “Expensive as F**K!” and another chose “Paycheck to Paycheck” for their three words. Astronomical rent increases, rising gas prices, and even the cost of lunchtime salads have made the city an increasingly pricey place to live and work —  though, as evidenced by the white-hot nationwide real estate market, it doesn’t appear to be much cheaper anywhere else!  

Some respondents added “Dangerous” and “Chaotic” to their lineup, referencing fears that some New Yorkers have expressed about public safety, particularly on the MTA. While the NYPD’s Comp Stat tracking shows that major crimes are up slightly from 2019 but still remain at lower levels than they were 10 years ago, an uptick in hate crimes against marginalized communities and the recent Sunset Park subway shooting have rattled locals and visitors alike. Others referenced the less dangerous but frequently chaotic elements of the city’s transit system (currently experiencing a rise in delays as ridership increases), noting that Googling “train delays today” was how they handled life in NYC. 

Hearts NY Street Art
Lizzy Savage brought LOVE to the streets of Hell’s Kitchen last year. Photo: Tom Zuback

While some respondents acknowledged that living in a place where you’re constantly sprinting to catch the train, dancing around the pigeons and rats of the sidewalk, and doling out $20 for lunch are elements that create a “stressful” and “fast-paced” environment, others said that this exact dichotomy is what keeps them here year after year. “It’s a shitshow 😂😂😂 – love NY❤️,” said one user, while others said “expensive, hard, and irreplaceable”  and “expensive and inconvenient but irreplaceable”. We at W42ST would have to concur, noting that for all of its sometimes-maddening curveballs that the city can throw at us, one thing every New Yorker can agree on is that there is truly no place on Earth like (Manhattan Plaza/Katz’s Deli/Washington Square Park/Sullivan Street Bakery/sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge/Delphinium Home/Absolute Bagel/Cobble Hill Cinemas/Dimes Square/Times Square/Bryant Park) the city we call home. And for all that New York has been through over the last few years and beyond, as NYC-based artist Lizzy Savage put it: “Storms Don’t Last Forever.”

What are the words you’d use to describe living here? Chime in below or on PIX11’s post — they plan to share the results on their 10am broadcast this week! Show some ❤️

Join the Conversation


  1. Great Foodie Town
    Rent’s toodamn high
    Best City Anywhere
    Always Bounces Back
    Most resilient people
    World’s Theater Capital

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