Middle class? What’s that?

So, you want to live in New York City, huh? You want the exciting nightlife that goes past 4am (morninglife?), incredible international cuisines, food at any time of the day/night, a city in which you never get bored, and you crave the chaotic lifestyle the city demands. The question is… Can you afford it?

A couple years ago, the Daily News published an article titled “N.Y.C. So Costly You Need Six Figures to Make Middle Class”, and the information it reveals still holds truth today, (given today’s prices/costs versus those of 2009.) It discusses the findings of a study done by the Center for Urban Future. The report shows just what it means to live in New York, and why middle class here is different than other large cities in America.

“In Manhattan, a $60,000 salary is equivalent
to someone making $26,092 in Atlanta.”

Furthermore, the report claims that a New Yorker would have to make $123,322 a year to maintain the same standard of living as someone who makes $50,000 in Houston.

Yes, the salaries in New York are higher than those in other states, but when you see some of the other factors mentioned in this article, it’s no wonder 24% of New York City residents plan to make their exodus out of the most expensive city in the country (and 32nd in the world). According to “The 12 Most Expensive Cities In America” in Business Insider: The Life, the monthly rent for an unfurnished luxury two-bedroom apartment is $4,300 in New York. This is almost $2000 more than the second most expensive city in America, Los Angeles. In the city of angels, the rent reported for an unfurnished luxury two-bedroom apartment is $2,500. Other prices found in that article are quite interesting…check them out! Also, refer to my previous post, Monthly Money, and to “There is No Manhattan, New York” on thefashionpond.

One more point to make before I start boring you, (as if I haven’t already,) is an experience of my own. Last year, when I went back to my hometown on Long Island during winter break, I went to Target with my mom and bought Dannon Activia Yogurt, which, by the way, is very delicious and nutritious! I highly recommend it. Anyway, a four-pack of this yogurt cost approximately $2 at the Target on Long Island. When I went grocery shopping in the city, the identical four-pack cost around $4. I was shocked when I saw the differences in the two prices! Good thing there’s a Target in Brooklyn

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” Do you think this Frank Sinatra lyric holds truth? Is it worth living here when it is so much more expensive? What’s your take on the finances of New York?

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Moving to Manhattan

Hola! I just wanted to thank you for the great feedback! It is very much appreciated!

If any of you aren’t familiar with Manhattan, not to fear…the map is here! (Dora the Explorer’s singing map is secretly bustin’ out his song right now.) And it includes all 3,000 neighborhoods that Manhattan is split into. Though, it’s actually only about 30-40, depending on what one deems a “neighborhood” nowadays. If I tell you about all of these neighborhoods, this post would be about twice as long as it already is…no bueno. Here is all the information you need, provided by New York Magazine, one of my favorites.
Warning: This blog is mainly about Manhattan because, to be perfectly honest, I am not very experienced in the other boroughs. However, that is not to say I am not fond of them! I just know my shit when it comes to Manhattan way more than I know about any of the other 4 boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island). So if you have anything to say about the other boroughs, please type away! I’d love to hear your comments.

When apartment hunting in Manhattan, the common feeling you get is “On to the Next One.” (Yes, I quote Jay-Z.) Whether it’s Craigslist.org (watch out for the crazies), a broker that your dad’s friend’s cousin’s coworker knows, or the New York Times real estate section, settling on an apartment in the city is no small feat. Here is a map of Manhattan’s neighborhoods with their respective average rents and percent increases/decreases.

Average Rent for a Two-Bedroom Apartment in Manhattan, March 2010

“Across Manhattan in March, the average rent for a one-bedroom was $2,341,
while two bedrooms came in at $3,289.” – MultiFamilyInvestor.com

So you can see why I want to scream at my friends when they complain about their $600 rent. Dude! That is unimaginable in Manhattan! Even a studio will run you about $1200-$1500, at the least. Unless of course, you happen to be me… and rent a two-bedroom apartment in the West Village for almost half that price. (It’s nice to have friends who don’t actually live in the apartments they own. :-P)

Anywho, back to normal circumstances…
Renting an apartment in Manhattan doesn’t mean you have to live off of dollar-slice pizza for the rest of your life. (Though, 2 Bros. Pizza is quite delicious.) It does, however, require you to do some research.

Now, if you don’t mind splitting a studio with another person, then by all means, go ahead and sign up for no privacy whatsoever. [A studio is an apartment with no walled bedroom. It is essentially one large room with a living room on one side, a bed and clothes area on the other side, and a kitchen. The bathroom is, of course, in a separate room. We aren’t in colonial times anymore.] But if you want some sort of space of your own, you will need to get a wee bit creative. This can entail sharing a bedroom, putting a wall up to create another bedroom, or simply pitching a tent on the rooftop. (You might want to be careful about the pigeons though.)

Sharing a Bedroom
If you grew up in a house with 14 brothers and sisters, this should be no problem for you. You get all the privacy you want, as long as you share that privacy with your roommate. This is how most people our age live anyway so why must New Yorkers be so greedy and want their own bedroom? Drunken mistakes, late nights ;), the rare occasions you will do homework, not having to worry about another person secretly criticizing your messy room, those times you just want to blast “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit… Any of these are good reasons to want your own room.
Back to my point… If your budget requires you to share a bedroom, worry not! There are plenty of things you can do to make it a pleasant experience besides drawing a line down the middle of the floor. The most important act is to pick a roommate with whom you share similar living habits. For example, do not room with a loud, gossipy, disorderly person if you are a quiet neat freak. This just will not work. If you don’t see that, go get your eyes checked. And your brain, too. Secondly, you can evenly divide the room so that the furniture setup is nearly symmetrical and your things stay on your side. Another option is to get a curtain and use it to split the room, but that would only make it look even smaller than the tiny space New York real estate has blessed you with…so, maybe not the best option.

Sharing an Apartment
Ix-nay sharing the oom-ray. (I’m fluent in Pig Latin.) Sharing an apartment is the best-suited, most cost-efficient option, assuming your budget doesn’t insist on sharing a room. A one-bedroom will probably run you at least $1600-1700 but it might be easier to find a two-bedroom for, let’s say, $2050, leaving each roommate with a monthly rent of $1025. The typical Manhattan rent desired for college students is around $1000 per month. If this is too expensive and you’d rather not resort to sharing a bedroom, you can certainly find more affordable rents in New York City’s other lively boroughs. A couple of friends of mine lived in Brooklyn last year, in two separate three-bedroom apartments with their own roommates, and both paid about $650 per month.
Wherever you decide to reside, the most important act in sharing an apartment is akin to the most important act aforementioned in “Sharing a Bedroom.” The lifestyles of your roommate(s) and you should be as congruent as possible if you want a pleasant living experience. For instance, a wild party animal who could break a flat screen TV with her five-inch heels like it’s nothing would not be a good match for someone who likes to stay in at night to watch movies and play video games on their precious flat screen TV. Common sense is invaluable. Use it! 🙂 Sharing an apartment with a friend or two or five also allows you to be a social butterfly. Let’s think about this… Yes, you like to have your alone time; everyone does. This is why you want your own room. But imagine having your own place and coming home to an empty apartment every single night. Sound boring? That’s because it is. Having roommates is FUN! “F is for friends who do stuff together…” SpongeBob clearly says it best.

Any thoughts?