Monday, February 9, 2009

In response to the "hardship" of living on $500K in NYC

E read this article before I did.
I had to read it for myself, 'cause I really wasn't sure anyone would write something like, "It's hard to live on $500K a year" in all seriousness.

The article makes a good point about taxes. If you see a third of your pay, after taxes, you're pretty lucky. I love what my taxes pay for, at the federal level (our military, our disabled veterans - of which I am one- and other wonderful services), at the state level (most of your teachers are state employees), and at the city level (transportation, police, parks(!) and other lovely things). I hate seeing the taxes taken out. Poof- two thirds of your hard earned money is gone. So that would bring your annual take home to something like $269,000. (oh, the hardship!)

The article makes good points as far as private schools go. While the public schools in NYC, especially the ones for younger kids, are pretty good, many people prefer to send their kids to private schools. For instance, if you'd like your child to go to a Jewish day school, you'd be forking over a ton of money to make that happen. So, yeah, that's a lot of money- the article says it's $32,000 a year per student.

I have a problem with the idea that these folks have built themselves a lifestyle (that they are defending as all fine and normal and necessary) that includes:

"at least two vacations a year, a winter trip to the sun and a spring trip to the ski slopes. Total minimum cost: $16,000" Wait, TWO vacations a year? Why not whiddle that down to one? Or, I know, don't go to such dang expensive places!

limos with drivers who are also bodyguards (who are these people that they need bodyguards?)

"A modest three-bedroom apartment... purchased for $1.5 million, not the top of the market at all, carries a monthly mortgage of about $8,000 and a co-op maintenance fee of $8,000 a month. Total cost: $192,000. "

I added the bold, cause that's a load of stink right there. Housing in NYC costs an arm and a leg and perhaps a kidney (though if you're paying $8K a month for 3 bedrooms, plus another $8K for the fees, methinks you got taken).

"A summer house in Southampton that cost $4 million, again not the top of the market, carries annual mortgage payments of $240,000."A summer house in the Hamptons? I'm supposed to feel sorry for you that you can't have your $4 mil house in the Hamptons? Riiiiight.

Oh, and I guess I'm also supposed to feel sorry that you *have* to go to *charity* galas. The article quotes some social diary editor (obviously I've not had the need to know that this person exists): "'Going to those parties,' said David Patrick Columbia, who is the editor of the New York Social Diary (, 'a woman can spend $10,000 or $15,000 on a dress. If she goes to three or four of those a year, she’s not going to wear the same dress.'"

Is anyone else thinking, WTF?

Listen, I'm the first to tell you NYC is too darn expensive for most people. If you're a teacher or a police officer, firefighter or you know, work at a job that might get you $30K-$40K a year before taxes, you can't live in Manhattan. If you're ok with living with a roommate or two (several of my unmarried coworkers here at BIG INC, which pays pretty darn well, have one or more roommates) you might be able to get a place in Manhattan- but don't expect much space. If you're looking for more affordable places, you could maybe find some in Brooklyn, but good luck- of late Brooklyn's better neighborhoods have gotten to be nearly as expensive as Manhattan. If you try Queens, now you need a car and all the payments that go along with that. Most of the teachers I worked with back when I was teaching lived in Queens, and had a commute of 90- 100 minutes one way. Fun!

So yeah, living in NYC takes a lot of money. But don't whine to me about making *only* $500K a year. Learn how to use a metro card, take the train, drop the bodyguards, give your money and time to charity rather than paying for dresses you'll wear once. I think you can figure it out, since most of us make far less and live rather comforably. Cause right now, y'all sound like a bunch of wusses complaining about only making $500K a year.

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