This morning I came across a Craigslist apartment listing in Manhattan.
I haven’t lived in Manhattan since 2011, when I moved here to Belgium, and so it’s not like I’m in search of 1-bedroom apartment in the sky. No, I saw the link pop on my Facebook timeline. A friend for a friend was sharing the link for the rental…
This Craigslist ad will die and expire into cyberspace eventually and so I took a screenshot of the ad as well.
$3,050.00 is the monthly rent for 700 square feet (that’s about 65 square meters for the rest of you).
Here’s the floor plan to the space, which I faithfully downloaded as if I’d do if I was actually interested in the place.
I know this is a Manhattan rental because I lived in New York for 30 years of my life. Granted I lived paying rent myself for only 10 of those years before buying a condo with my Big Brother winnings and even then you pay for costs and maintenance to the common areas of your building. Who knows they probably charge you a few cents every year for breathing the air in the building. I kid. This isn’t a rant blog.
I believe $3,050.00 is a fair price for said apartment. I’ve lived in expensive Manhattan 1 bedrooms the size of decent McDonalds’ bathrooms. I’m not going to play real estate agent, but I’d say that Craigslist Upper West Side listing isn’t ridiculous by any means…to New Yorkers. Whether or not one gets approved through the application process for rental is another story.
It’s money you’ll never see again because it’s rent and not an investment, but all’s fair in the context of living in Manhattan. Whether you’re trying to keep up with a Sex & the City lifestyle or you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars in yearly bonuses on the job it doesn’t matter because you’re living in Manhattan. It’s not glamorous for everyone but if you have a Manhattan address then you’re a statistic many people all over the world would trade places with, given the opportunity. Let’s be real…
Admittedly, I was sheltered growing up. My parents and brother and I lived in an apartment complex in Lower Manhattan. My parents had snagged our low-income housing apartment in 1976, when they first moved to New York without me. I joined them in 1979 and my neighbors were immigrants of every color and flavor. When I moved out on my own, in dramatic fashion, I didn’t move into Manhattan. I didn’t even know to open a ConEd account for electricity! My parents had always done everything for me and I sucked at reality. It was either moving into a basement apartment in Queens or going back home, and so basement it was. I had two more apartments in Queens before moving into Manhattan in 1999.
Making enough money to pay your rent and the rest of your bills in Manhattan, and not starve, is not easy. Some years I did better than others working in banking, and other things, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because there’s nothing like it in the world. If you can do it, then all the more power to you. Not everyone can. Is it possible for honest hard-working people to live in Manhattan? Sure. A lot of things are possible including getting help from family or working little jobs on the side that you don’t report as income…
Now nearly 3 years and so many thousands of miles away from Manhattan I’m sitting here married and a mommy in a small farming town called Evergem, in Ghent. In contrast to the UWS apartment rental on Craigslist above…
My rent now is 25% of the price and 400% the value in square footage and outdoor space and amenities. Salaries here are limp leaves lettuce compared to the steak salads at Smith & Wollensky’s that I miss in Manhattan, but transitioning to life here has been an extraordinarily grounding experience for me. I can sit here and see links my friends share on Facebook, for 700 square feet living for thousands of dollars a month, and think yeah that sounds about right. Manhattan rent.
I don’t miss “it” but I miss parts of it. I get asked all the time if I’ll “ever” move back to New York. My answer is always maybe.