Average New York

Poll results: What scares New Yorkers the most

By Alanna Schubach  | February 9, 2017 - 8:59AM

S. Jhoanna Robledo

It's a point of pride for many New Yorkers to remain unfazed by the most outlandish of sights on our city streets, but that doesn't mean that nothing actually scares us. (We're notorious for spending hours plumbing the depths of our neuroses in therapy, after all.)

Last year, a handful of Twitter users listed their top city-related fears, with items ranging from "Seamless outage" to "Unannounced landlord visit."

We wanted to know what keeps the average Brick reader up at night, so we polled you on your number one NYC worry. The top contenders ranged from violent crime to less life-threatening—but still terrifying—scourges, like pest infestations. Read on for a deeper dive: 

What is your number one NYC worry? 


Turns out the Twitter user quoted above underestimated how much New Yorkers worry about being targeted: The top answer to our poll was a terrorist attack, with 15 percent of respondents saying that this is their top NYC fear. 

Close behind was being pushed onto the train tracks and bed bugs, each of which got an 11 percent share of the vote. And many of those who participated said that their number one New York City nightmare centers on finances: 10 percent chose getting priced out of the neighborhood and for another 10 percent, a steep increase in the monthly rent. 

The next runner-up fear was transportation-centric: Nine percent of respondents dread getting stuck on a stalled train more than anything. And an equal number of Brick readers are concerned about dangers close to home, whether it's a scary neighbor or a fire or gas explosion in their building. 

Some of the write-in responses introduced new sources of insomnia that hadn't previously occurred to us. "We're first on the list of American cities to nuke," one reader helpfully informed us. Another wrote that they worry about "being stalked and murdered by someone I newly met from an online dating app." And someone else said their top fear is being "involuntarily locked up into a mental ward—with the present laws it can happen easier than you might think."

There were also two write-in votes for Donald Trump; our new President might not represent an NYC-specific fear, but the De Blasio administration has offered government workers mental health counseling to deal with Trump-induced anxiety, the New York Post reports

How likely are New Yorkers' worst fears? 

Let us play therapist for a moment and try to defuse some of these concerns. It's certainly understandable that New Yorkers worry about terrorism, and last fall's bombing in Chelsea likely helped to stoke some of those fears. It may help to know what's behind NYC's anti-terrorism efforts: According to CNN Money, $1 billion per year, mostly from the federal government, is devoted to terror prevention. (The NYPD has a rundown of New York's various counter-terror initiatives here.)

Of course, a large financial investment isn't the same as guaranteed protection, but it seems that the odds are in our favor: Business Insider reports that since 9/11, foreign-born terrorists have been responsible for the death of one American per year, and the odds of dying in any kind of terror attack is 1 in 45,808—considerably less likely than being killed by a police officer (1 in 8,359). 

Being shoved in front of a train is a horrific thought, but it seems similarly far-fetched. Last year, per the New York Daily News, 44 people were killed by trains in NYC, a number that's far too high, but tiny considering that annual ridership is over 1.7 billion. (For whatever it's worth, the MTA says it's considering installing platform barriers to prevent subway-related deaths and injuries.) 

We're sorry to say, however, that bed bugs seem like a more realistic worry. The hard-to-get-rid-of pests seem to love NYC, and Thrillist reports that when it comes to infestations of the creepy critters, New York is the fourth-worst urban region in the United States. Should you get invaded by them, try to remember they can only inconvenience you, not hurt you—and read our primer on how to get rid of them. 

And when it comes to your rent being raised too high, or getting priced out of your neighborhood, the news is mixed. Brick's 2017 real estate forecast predicts that concessions will continue to proliferate as new developments try to lure tenants, but that doesn't mean rents will drop. Your best bet, as always? Try to land a rent-stabilized apartment, where there are strict limits on how much your landlord can jack up the montly rent. And while you're at it, maybe do some deep breathing exercises. 


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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