It’s been decades since I lived in an apartment. Where I come from, apartment living is something you outgrow, like being vegetarian or piercing weird body parts. When you “grow up,” you get to have a mortgage, a lawn to mow, and a furnace to replace.
Not in New York City. Everyone lives in apartments here. If you’re rich, you live in lavish penthouses high above the city, and if you’re poor, you live in the Bronx. But whatever your pedigree, the same streets await you. Everyone, rich or poor, famous or infamous, mingles on the street. (Unless your driver whisks you away to Martha’s Vineyard or…wherever rich people go.)
The sheer density of people is astounding. All those towering buildings are full of people, and they go on for miles. The rents are astounding, too. Back in the day, I think I rented my spacious two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Detroit for, oh, about $300/month. That was when the city was the Murder Capital of the World. As I recall, there were 600 murders one year. So, yes, rents were cheap.
I don’t think you could live on the street in New York for $300. I’m staying at the northern tip of Manhattan which is considered slightly off the beaten track (an oxymoron in New York–tracks to everywhere are beaten) and somewhat less fashionable, ergo, cheaper. (Cheap being relative here.)
The rent is $1800/month, which is more than three times the mortgage on the large Victorian house with three acres that I used to own.
Here’s what $1800/month gets you in New York:
So there you have it. Nothing fancy, but very livable. Still, you could buy a whole lotta square footage for that rent in about 95 percent of the rest of the country.
I’ll tell you what I’ve found really charming about living here in the next post.