New York City living sounds like it sucks for the average person

I used to romanticize living in New York City.

Broadway, the extensive subway system, the five boroughs, etc.

When I ended up living most of my life in Boston — a short car, bus or plane or train ride away from Manhattan — I got to spend a lot of time in NYC. And i was able to regularly visit any number of friends who lived there.

My friends who were professionals did pretty well in the city, especially Brooklyn.

Doctors, successful artists, people in the entertainment industry, etc. They had nice apartments and condos. Still relatively small compared to elsewhere, but not bad.

But regular people in New York had a choice: have roommates, sometimes lots of them, or live in a tiny studio apartment — if you can call apartments with two-burner stoves and a toilet in the living room “studios.”

So I was fascinated by this series in The New York Times in which a Manhattan woman was priced out of her West Village apartment and had to go looking for a replacement in today’s market for no more than $3000 a month. That turned out to be a pretty tall order. She finally settled on a rent-stabilized studio:

So when she learned that the apartment in the elevator building would definitely be available — at a stabilized rent of $2,140.98 — she jumped on it, taking it sight unseen.

“Amanda got lucky,” Ms. Vorobeva said. One tenant had lived there for many years, and the following tenant had moved in recently, after New York State passed the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which affords tenants extra protections and discourages landlords from turning rent-stabilized units into market-rate units.

The broker fee, though, was at a premium: 15 percent of a year’s rent, based on the market rate of $3,200 a month — or $5,760.

When Ms. Dauber finally saw the apartment in person, she was happy and relieved. “It was identical to the one I had seen,” she said, although the living area was furnished differently.

“The big thing was wrapping my head around moving from an apartment with four separate rooms to a box-style studio,” she said. “It’s not lacking storage space; it’s just lacking living space. I had to think strategically about how I could organize everything.”

She sold her furniture to the young couple who rented her former place — it was advertised as a two-bedroom and went for $4,600 — and bought the furniture that was in her new apartment from the outgoing tenant.

She cooks less now, because the kitchen is so small. “The dishwasher is a nice luxury, but I didn’t care either way,” she said. “I need the dishwasher because there’s no place to put a drying rack.”

She unscrewed one closet door and propped it up as a makeshift partition between the bed and the refrigerator. “Otherwise, the bed blocks the closet door, so to get into the closet you have to physically move the bed,” she said. This way, she can shimmy in sideways.


No, thank you.

I still love to visit. I still don’t want to live there.

A rent-stabilized $2,140.98 a month plus a $5760 broker’s fee gets you this studio in Manhattan.

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