Would You Rather?

New Yorkers aren't too crazy about backyards after all (but balconies are another story)

New Yorkers see the downsides of this space.

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The fair weather of late has had us staring out our window contemplating the fun to be had outdoors. Wouldn’t it be great to have somewhere to step out and grow herbs, read a book, or (ahem) smoke a cigarette in private peace? Of course, such private patches of outdoor space come at a price. It turns out, sometimes that price is rats.  We asked six city folks: Would you rather have a cellar-level apartment with a backyard or a fourth floor walk-up with a balcony?

  • No downsides to walking up A fourth-floor walk-up: It’s safer, no fear of rats, and more light. I’d also go for the more open view, and it's more separated from the cacophony of the city. —John, Tribeca
  • Speaking from experience I'd rather live in a fourth-floor walk-up with a balcony. Garden apartments can have vermin issues as well as flooding, plus the light is not as good. I have lived in a walk-up with a deck for over 14 years and love it! —Cortney, Upper West Side
  • Millions of reasons Fourth-floor walk-up with a balcony. There are estimated to be 16 million rats in NYC and most of them live at the basement level. —Jeffrey, Chelsea
  • The thrill is gone If by garden you mean backyard outdoor space—ground level, please. While I love the sun to wake me up in the morning, I'm not thrilled with four flights of stairs...even with a balcony. And, I've already had amazing city views. —Helaine, Chelsea
  • Fights vs. flights I’ve lived in a townhouse where the light wasn’t great and the noise wasn’t either: foot traffic, drunken dudes, and fights in the middle of the night. But I’ve also had to carry my suitcases, and those of visitors up my flights of stairs. That sucks. And groceries, too. What if I break my leg? And I do travel a lot. I guess the basement makes more sense. Plus, you can have larger parties in a backyard. Mosquitoes, though… —Max, Hamilton Heights
  • Walk-up and relax Walk-ups aren’t great, but I think I’d like a balcony. I don’t really want to take care of a backyard. I see the backyards around me and they look kind of miserable. They don’t get that much light. I don’t like gardening; I like to have a cocktail looking out into the sunset or a view or something. —Jace, East Harlem

Verdict: Four flights have taken our fancy!