I live in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Whenever I discuss this with people that reside in other parts of the country they’re quick to mention what is possibly the only thing they know about living in New York.
“You live in Manhattan?” they say, “Now that must be expensive.”
And they would be correct. This city’s reputation as a money suck is totally earned. Obviously, there’s the exorbitant rent exchanged each month for meager housing. We’ve all heard gripes about the unrealistic square footage of the New York apartments shown on network sitcoms.
“Each of these roommates must have been the coupon-clipping heir to an oil fortune who also sold their sperm/eggs monthly to afford this place and they still would’ve had zero discretionary income leftover to spend at Central Perk.” says the 100th piece fact-checking the plausibility of the living arrangements on Friends.
I usually try to bring balance to these conversations by extolling the positive aspects of New York or explaining how I also save money by not having a car. But I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. You’re right. You’re all right and you win. New York is fucking expensive. It’s as unlivable as you love to imagine and the sanity of it’s residents should be questioned.
Every breath you take in Manhattan costs ten cents but in the outer boroughs it’s only a nickel, except Staten Island. Thanks to an initiative that quietly began in 2005, Staten Island actually pays you one cannoli for every 5,000 breaths taken.
As for transit, the subway is the most economical way to get around. It costs $300 per ride but it’s set to increase to $300.75 soon. People are outraged but what can we do? Take cabs? Ha.
I took a cab once. I took it from deep in Brooklyn back home to the quiet upper west side. So quiet, in fact, that the only sound on my block was my groaning as the cabbie removed my kidney. You’re better off taking long cab rides than short ones because it's a flat rate no matter the distance. They always take one entire kidney. I’ve got one cab ride left before I go on dialysis. I’ll probably use it in a pinch when I’m running late to Laguardia.
I tell ya, when I lived in North Carolina I would’ve scoffed at the idea of taking out a mortgage for a pastrami sandwich but in the big apple that’s just life. Eventually these sandwich mortgages no longer phase you. I don’t even announce my business when I walk in the door of my local Wells Fargo branch. The manager knows me by name.
“Oh Ryan, another sandwich?” he asks half-rhetorically.
“And a side of fries” I say, with a grin.
He rolls his eyes and breaks out the paperwork.
The trick is you’ve gotta be savvy and save wherever you can. Let’s say you’re out having drinks with friends. Consider splitting a pitcher of margaritas for $500 rather than paying $200 per individual drink. Oh, and the museums! They’re filled with rare artifacts that can be discreetly pocketed and used for bartering. I once traded an Egyptian amulet for a 10 pack of SoulCycle classes.
“Ryan!” you shout at your screen, “This is insane. Please take leave of this financial nightmare and return home to North Carolina while you still have one good kidney.”
Well, friends, that brings me to the ultimate expense. That which must be paid when you leave New York for good. If you choose to throw in the towel on this city you must leave behind your entire net worth and self worth. Your assets are liquidated and given via personal check to the Times Square M&M store. Your name and face are featured in a wildly popular publication called “Too Soft: The Ones Who Couldn’t Make It”. Lastly, your existence is wiped from the memory of every New York friend and acquaintance you ever made.
Then, once you’ve shamefully limped away from the metropolis and arrived at your new locale, you let it slip to your new neighbors that you’ve just moved from New York.
You deserve a “Congratulations!”
At the very least you expect a “Welcome!”
But all you get is “Wow. New York? That place is expensive.”