How to Survive a 6th-Floor Walk-Up in New York City

how to survive a sixth floor walk up

Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of New York renters like the dreaded word “walk-up.” The very mention of this word can induce feelings of panic, summoning flashes of sweating, panting, and burning thighs. However, walk-up apartments are often an unavoidable (and affordable) reality for many New Yorkers, and thousands of renters have lived to tell the tales. If you are considering renting a walk-up apartment, or struggling to adjust to your new life in a walk-up, read these first-hand stories and survival tips from some brave walk-up warriors.

The Good: Self-Esteem and Body Goals

“I would say the sense of accomplishment is the best part. I could lay around all day and only leave to go down for dinner and I feel like I did so much just for coming back upstairs…You also feel really good about yourself anytime someone comes over because they get winded by the 3rd or 4th floor and you’re still going strong.” – Joanna, 6th floor, NoLita

“Be grateful for how great your ass looks and the money you’re saving on a gym membership!” – Natasha, 6th floor, West Village

The Bad: Schlepping and Delivery Woes

“The worst, worst thing is carrying a rolly suitcase up or down the stairs. For a while I was trying to pack really light, but that doesn’t always work so I just have to take a bunch of breaks…I remember one time I actually got all the way down there with my suitcase and I realized I left my phone upstairs. I had to have the store owner next door watch my bag while I ran back up to get it.” – Joanna

“DO NOT reveal to delivery men that you live on the 6th floor. I cannot stress this enough. They will not come up, and they will require you to go down and get your pizza. Expect a lot of people wanting tips and pity for coming up to give you anything. They’ll be huffing and puffing. Have a tip jar ready if you feel sorry for them, ‘cause they’re gonna be asking for it. If not, just say “a day in the life pal, a day in the life.” – Natasha

The Ugly: Moving Mishaps and Unfortunate Accidents

“I hired movers to take my shit up 6 flights and sure enough one of them ended up vomiting on the pavement downstairs because of the schlep. I had to tip them extra and buy them waters.” – Laura, 6th floor, LES

“I was coming home on a really cold night, holding a few bags of groceries, and I really had to pee. I was going strong until the 3rd floor, but by the 4th floor I was struggling up the steps with my legs crossed and my eyes watering, just praying that none of my neighbors would see me. Needless to say, it was a lost cause by the time I finally made it to my apartment. Thankfully my roommate wasn’t home!! – Cate, 6th floor, Williamsburg

“I had a pretty bad fall on my birthday. I bruised my tailbone.” – Joanna

Insider Tips: How to Survive a 6th Floor Walk-Up

“Just buy the 7 dollar umbrella at the bodega. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move forward with your day because something as small as forgetting your umbrella could domino and ruin your day. Just be like “oh well” and let it roll off your back and move on.” – Cate

“If you’re bringing someone home with you after a date, you have to give them some warning [about the walk-up] which can be awkward…Don’t tell them until the last minute when you get to the door and start walking up the stairs, and then say, “Oh by the way, we’re going to the top.” – Joanna

“To help you walk up the stairs, talk to someone on the phone but make sure they’re the one talking because you’ll be too winded to talk. It’s good if you call a friend and ask them to tell you a long story, like a breakup or a hookup because it’ll distract you and make the time go by faster.” – Joanna

“Be careful when you go out partying all night and you’re trying to get back up those stairs. Bring a friend. Sleep with them. Enough said.” – Natasha

“I’d say having a significant other with an elevator is a good move.” – Joanna

Takeaways: How to Survive a 6th Floor Walk-Up

  1. Plan ahead: Whether it’s packing your bag the night before, religiously checking the weather, or giving yourself enough time to accommodate your bladder, be prepared! Make it a habit to repeat a short mantra before walking out the door (“phone, keys, wallet”), and be sure to stock up on all of your bodega needs before hunkering down for the night.
  2. Be careful: Stairs + partying = recipe for disaster. Be smart when you’re coming or going late at night, especially if you’ve knocked a few back or are wearing high heels. Recruit friends for emotional and physical support if needed.
  3. Look on the bright side: Living in a walk-up isn’t all bad. In addition to a toned butt and a healthy heart, your walk-up may give you a few extra minutes each day to make a phone call, do a walking meditation exercise, or ponder the meaning of life.