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I love New York. After Paris, it is probably my favorite city in the whole world. My mum took me there to visit some family when I was 15, and I guess you never forget your first love, well, NY was my first travel crush and has held a special place ever since. An article about the housing situation on the Daily Mail caught my attention recently.
It starts by stating that housing isn’t cheap in NY but
city-dwellers were given some good news today with the announcement of plans to build a block of economically-friendly, micro-apartments where renters will inhabit under 400 square feet.
Hey new yorkers, good news! You can now live in less than 400 sqft and it is only going to cost you an arm, a leg and your first new born!
Once your guests are gone, you fold your table, and the sofa that was not on the picture cluttering your tiny cocktail party will suddenly appear to unfold as a bed.
Since NY is also a surfing mecca, you can store your board on the upper storage space.
All the apartment units will be made in Brooklyn and assembled with a crane. I wonder how they will link them with hallways, and put the water pipes or electric wiring. Wow, some even have four windows.
The post goes on:
The 55 new units are planned for East 27th Street in Manhattan – with 40 per cent of homes available to low and middle-income New Yorkers.
So you can also buy if you are rich.
The units will be 250-370 sqft.
The building will have rehearsal spaces on the ground floor, lecture halls and a cafe.
And laundry rooms, and other stuff you can’t possible fit in your tiny tiny home.
Mayor Bloomberg said on Tuesday: ‘New York’s ability to adapt with changing times is what made us the world’s greatest city – and it’s going to be what keeps us strong in the 21st Century.
Is that Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of sustainable quality housing for his fellow new yorkers?
Don’t get me wrong, I have lived in such a small apartment, during my college years in Paris. BUT it was a temporary situation, I was not a fully grown adult with a stable five to six figures income looking for a safe haven to unwind after a 60 hours week.
How can it possibly be worth all the sacrifices to live the city life in such conditions? I thought only in Honk Kong people were crazy enough to rent 90sqft coffin sized “living” quarters. It’s not so bad, I hear you say because:
- “I am young”. So get a big loft, and two roommates. Get a two bedrooms and rent the other one to visiting tourists via Airbnb.
- “I earn more”. You SPEND more. I know NY needs teachers, and firemen, and nurses, and you are very kind to take the position. But if you work in those fields, you would only make slightly less in other areas of the country where the cost of living is much more affordable.
- “I love the city life”. Me too. Two or three times a year, I go to a big city and have tons of fun. Go out, visit friends, shop, eat, attend big events… You name it. When was the last time you went to a Broadway show? Climbed on top of the Empire State Building or went to Ellis Island? More than a year ago? Not since you moved there? Then you should be living somewhere else, going out to Chipotle is not the city life, you can do that in any medium town with a median home price of $80K.
- “Yeah, but my kids won’t go to the museum/prep school/cupcake party on the Upper East Side”. No, they won’t. That was one of my big concerns when leaving Paris. Then I realized the small town kids can run around, learn about animals and the flora, go camping, biking and fishing… and once a year, you can take them to the Air and Space Museum.
If you can afford to live comfortably in the big city, that is awesome.
My cousin still lives in NYC. She married a trader, works at one of the best art museums in the world (not a gallery in the Village), and they pay effortlessly for their big apartment, the crazy tuition of the French Lycée for their two kids and a couple of European holidays for Christmas and summer.
They sure work hard but aren’t slaves to their mortgages or lifestyle.
I have always tried to limit my rent/mortgage to 25% of my take home pay. As I almost always had extra income on top, housing was more to the tune of 10-15%. It is not uncommon for friends of my promotion to see half of more of their pay disappear into rent, and commute costs (plus they spend at least 45 minutes each way to go to work).
Yes, it is fun to feel like you are living in the center of the world, where everything happens, and some, like this woman, would rather live in 90sqft in Manhattan than 1500 sqft in any other city.
Felice Cohen lives in a Manhattan apartment that measures just 12 feet by 7 feet. Her choice to live small allows her to live on the Upper West Side, where rents average $3,600 per month. For her 90-square-foot microstudio she pays just over $700 per month.
$700 per month?? I have a hard time getting that. Having friends and family around is certainly nice, although you can make new friends anywhere. Your primary concern should be your own well-being and the one of your immediate family, spouse and kids. If you can’t give them the basics, a room where they have space to play, a kitchen where you don’t have to take turns to avoid bumping into each other, and a storage pace that doesn’t require you to have the discipline of a Tibetan monk, why are you staying where you are?
Houses in Guatemala are ridiculously big. Middle and upper class people live in places that have a walk in closet and bathroom for each bedroom, a room and bath for the maid and guardian, a play room, reception room, living room and more. When we went to Europe, BF was quite shocked about the size of my friends’ places, in spite of them making a good living. Still, the majority didn’t have to sleep in the living room like Mayor Bloomberg offers. Many were considering relocating in the South of France once they had kids, to get more living space.
Yes, it is unfair and everyone should be able to afford decent housing on a middle class salary. But what you can’t change is the size of Manhattan. They can’t build many more houses there, and the price will go up with demand. Do you want to live there so bad you are ready to compromise your well-being?
I quite like the idea of a small house. My house is very small by Guatemalan standards, but I have room to stretch, store things, have friends over, and it is set in the middle of nowhere. Should I feel claustrophobic, I can look out the window and see some water and some trees, not the creepy neighbor who always forgets to dress.
It all comes down to your priority, but take a little time to reflect on the price you pay to live in the big city.
- extra mortgage or rent costs
- extra taxes
- higher food prices
- higher entertainment prices
- transport costs
- commute time
Is it all worth it?
What about you? Would you live in the big city with a small paycheck?