I have to get something off my chest: It is hard as hell to attempt to live alone in New York City.
At least a few times a year, when real estate sites like Street Easy crunch the median rents in NYC, and publications like Gothamist and DNAinfo broadcast the bleak figures, it becomes explicitly clear that even if you have relatively low standards for living and are making decent money (say, $45,000/year), you have only a slim chance of ever living on your own while you’re still in your 20s.
I understand this is hardly news and anyone who complains about this even in passing will often get a “Hey! Roommates are a part of the deal here,” or “You have to earn that privilege,” or, even worse, “Move away if you hate it so much.” But as we become ever more individualistic—and watch friends back home start making down payments and lifelong investments—it becomes harder to accept the status quo.
Let’s focus on the current state of living alone in New York City at a basic, financial level. In January, DNAinfo built a handy module that allows you to simply enter your yearly salary to find out where you can afford to live based on the median rent of each neighborhood. If it’s in your price range—meaning you earn 40x the monthly rent and aren’t “overburdened”—the neighborhoods in your range light up. At $40,000, you’re a perfect candidate for the Bronx neighborhood of Morrisania and that’s it. At $60K, your selection of neighborhoods increases twelvefold, but your options are still restricted to the Bronx. Skipping ahead, things improve drastically at $100,000 when the reach of your paycheck spreads to Harlem, to Sunnyside, Queens through Jamaica Estates, and into South Brooklyn, starting with Sunset Park and stretching down to Brighton Beach and oceanward to East New York. North Brooklyn is more or less reserved for those making $130,000 and up. (more…)