Personal finance experts often say that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of what you earn on rent and utilities. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median income in Manhattan is $75,513. That means someone earning that much shouldn't spend more than about $1,880 on rent.
But renting a good apartment for less than $2,000 in Manhattan is a proverbial unicorn. That’s why New Yorkers have roommates way past college while many suburbanites can afford to live by themselves if they choose.
When my husband first moved to New York from Chicago, he catalogued every time he saw a pile of trash bags on the street with a photo as a joke. While the photos have dwindled, the garbage is most definitely still there.
But in the suburbs? People store it in their garages or in cans until it gets picked up, like civilized humans.
We walk everywhere, even in the rain. If there’s even one raindrop, hailing a cab or getting an Uber or Lyft is virtually impossible. We’ve also learned not to stand at the corner waiting for the light, because you don’t want to get splashed by a passing car.
The luxury of having your own vehicle and barely spending a moment outside in the rain is a novelty for those not in the city.
Was that a $6.99 box of cereal I just purchased? Better enjoy them, it’s dinner for a week. Suburbanites can get cereal for less than half that price from a local store like Wegmans.
We city folk are lullabied to sleep by the sound of sirens. When we talk to family on the phone, we have to repeat that, “No, that ambulance is NOT driving through our apartment,” as they listen to the sound of chirping birds and other suburban wildlife.
Sure, it’s a chore for everyone. But for many city people it involves lugging an overstuffed bin to the communal laundry room in the basement or down the street to a laundromat. Suburbanites might cringe when we mix colors and whites because there’s only one machine.
Sometimes it's enough that you'd rather go shopping for new clothes.
Remember the 1981 arcade game Frogger, when you had to avoid cars and jump on logs to make it out safe?
Walking in the city is like a real-life version of Frogger, where you’ll need to avoid steam stacks, street grates, smokers, and masses of other humans.
Pizza at 3 a.m.? Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? It’s always available somewhere.
While we have the opportunity to eat whatever and whenever we want, suburbanites have to strategically plan the day, making sure to get their order in before the shop closes.
Standing on the subway without touching the poles is an art, and so is not talking to anyone. Sometimes we have our headphones in just so no one talks to us. Those in the suburbs might consider this strange, or rude, but it’s common knowledge for city travelers.
In the city, a trip to the store is not fun a game of Supermarket Sweep. It’s a strategic calculation of what you can carry without breaking an arm on the walk home.
That full shopping cart suburbanites love to load up on Sundays? Not possible for us. It wouldn’t fit in the store’s tiny aisles anyway.