six hundred petrified dragon eggs
September 20, 2016 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I’m from New York. I once paid two thousand dollars a month to live in the freight elevator of the former Filene’s Basement, in Union Square. Then I paid five thousand dollars a month to live in the garbage chute of a postwar luxury condominium on First Avenue. It’s important to live in terrible places when you’re young.
posted by griphus (74 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I moved to New York when I was 16 (a NYC 16yo is equivalent to an LA 37yo). My first apartment was an in-use firehose box at the 135th YMCA, and I paid $3200 month-to-month, and I was damn lucky to get that.
posted by beerperson at 2:12 PM on September 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


It wasn't NYC, but I consider a blessing in hindsight when my black mold/made my kitty ill but I couldn't afford anything else apartment in Cabbagetown was destroyed by the tornado that whipped through Atlanta in 2008. (To say nothing of the roach-infested place in Candler Park that I stayed in far too long. I had to sleep with the lights on lest I woke up with more than a pair of cats on the bed.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Those are disgustingly high and privileged rents. I couldn't afford those when I was young OR now...
posted by agregoli at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is it weird that this genuinely makes me miss living in New York?
posted by mochapickle at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Reminds me of people who insist it's important to travel the world and act shocked you haven't, as if you're a classless loon cause you don't have money to do so.
posted by agregoli at 2:17 PM on September 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


To say nothing of the roach-infested place in Candler Park that I stayed in far too long.

A former roommate of mine -- we lived together in the inside of a flickering fluorescent light bulb in the ceiling of the G train ($1680 a month, rent controlled) -- once lived with eight other people in a loft constructed entirely of cockroaches, but he eventually moved out because they couldn't convince the cockroaches to crawl within convenient walking distance to the subway.
posted by beerperson at 2:20 PM on September 20, 2016 [50 favorites]


Finally someone tackles the difference between NY and LA
posted by crashlanding at 2:22 PM on September 20, 2016 [21 favorites]


"Those are disgustingly high and privileged rents. I couldn't afford those when I was young OR now..."

The link in the FPP is satire
posted by I-baLL at 2:23 PM on September 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


It's funny that people keep saying Louisville's neat because it has "the Derby". Buddy, I'm from New York, where the only "Derby Race" we had was when my landlord used to line up all the tenants and make us race to fill his derby with piss. Then he'd put it on his big New York head, raise our rents $250 each, and cut our Metrocards in half. This was back in the eighties, when you could use just half a Metrocard as long as you only stood on one foot in the subway.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:23 PM on September 20, 2016 [38 favorites]




im so mad that the author calls 17th street and 7th avenue "union square"
posted by poffin boffin at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: Buddy, I'm from New York, where
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:30 PM on September 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Is where points out that the titular characters in 2 Broke Girls live in what seems an humongous apartment, despite most of what passes as jokes is about frugality and use stuff well past being socially acceptable?
(I don't know if there's any explanation for that, as I only watch when I can't be arsed to change from the sitcom channel, and as insulting as it may be, at least it's not Tim Allen, who really is worth getting up and change channel in the STB)

Also, just out of curiosity, what kind of property would $550k buy in a US metro area? Just to argue with the idiots that claim someone with a €500k property here in the asshole of Europe is "middle class".
posted by lmfsilva at 2:32 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]




Also, just out of curiosity, what kind of property would $550k buy in a US metro area?

Depends on which one. In LA, that would get you an 8x10 glossy picture of a house.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:34 PM on September 20, 2016 [25 favorites]


That's just like LA, presenting everything as glossy
posted by beerperson at 2:35 PM on September 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Also, just out of curiosity, what kind of property would $550k buy in a US metro area?

Homes listing for $500,000 across the U.S.

Here's a 2015 roundup
posted by sparklemotion at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


A family members' attached house, with tiny rooms, old everything, in a meh neighborhood with no transit and literally no running water, in NYC is "valued" at over 400k. It is insane prices to buy in NYC.
posted by corb at 2:37 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you don't mind living way out in Brooklyn, $550K can get you a really nice 2-bedroom apartment.

Detached homes in the boonies where I grew up (like much further out than the above) start at $1M.
posted by griphus at 2:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Came for the "Yorkshiremen" reference, left satisfied.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:40 PM on September 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Thanks! It helps to put things in context next time the "poor portuguese middle class and their €500k property taxes" argument comes up.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2016


norcal here, $550k = vacant unbuildable lot full of poison oak
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:43 PM on September 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


im so mad that the author calls 17th street and 7th avenue "union square"

There used to be a Filene's Basement on the south side of Union Square, in the building with Whole Foods on the ground floor. There's a Burlington Coat Factory and DSW there now.
posted by incomple at 2:43 PM on September 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


norcal here, $550k = vacant unbuildable lot full of poison oak

That's rough, but I did some research and you can generally get the poison oak thrown in as part of the closing fees if seller covers.
posted by griphus at 2:44 PM on September 20, 2016 [19 favorites]


norcal here, $550k = vacant unbuildable lot full of poison oak

in oakland you can still find a home listed for 550k that is the size of a large closet, but it will eventually sell for 750k
posted by burgerrr at 2:45 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's* what $550,000 will get you in three different neighborhoods no more than a 15 minute drive (usually much, much less) to downtown Cincinnati.

*several pages of home listings
posted by cooker girl at 2:49 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aaaaand this is why we're moving to Philadelphia. Well, that and the hordes of newly homeless mice now nesting in our couch thanks to the Gowanus storm drain project. We'll be lucky if the movers don't have to park 3 blocks away.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:50 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I lived in shitty places when I was younger but they were in cheaper (and more down and out) than NYC.
posted by jonmc at 2:53 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the Dallas metroplex 500k will get you a nice 4-5 bdrm, with an acre or two of land and no hoa, or it can get you a lovely 1-2 bedroom apt in the trendy districts. Most family size homes in this area range from 150-300k, with mcmansions starting at around 350. That said, values in our bedroom town have shot up 30% and even though we are clearlw rebuilding from this spring storms, we've got realtors calling constantly to see if we want to sell.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 2:53 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Eustacescrubb is an actor, so our choices are NYC and LA, so NYC it is...
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:55 PM on September 20, 2016


If you're OK living in Queens, you can get a 3-bedroom detached single-family house in a meh, bus-only neighborhood for under $500k.

You can also get a studio apartment for under $100k, which is blowing my mind, having spent the majority of my rent-paying adult life in San Francisco...where I lived in a garage with no stove or windows and a bathroom down the hall with two other people for $1850 and we were grateful to get it!

brb need a hotdog water refill
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:02 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, Queens is the Oakland of NYC, so in about five years I'm going to be back to living in a shoebox in the middle of the road, but still
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:03 PM on September 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm about to make a career-defining move to Brule, WI where $550k will actually enable me to purchase the town and set myself up as a petty Wisconsin tyrant similar to Paul Ryan, only I can't bench as much
posted by beerperson at 3:05 PM on September 20, 2016 [43 favorites]


Related: So You Think Your Place Is Small? [The New York Times]
The first thing that people want to know about Jack Leahy’s home, a 40-square-foot cubbyhole tucked into the ceiling of a performance space a few blocks from the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is whether it’s legal. The second question is how much he pays. He doesn’t know the answer to the first. As for his rent? Tell a New Yorker you pay $450 a month, and he or she becomes very, very jealous. [...] His windowless den measures roughly 9 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. You can stand at the entry, but once inside you mostly stoop — it’s only about 5 feet high. A twin-size futon mattress takes up most of the space.
posted by Fizz at 3:16 PM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this Shouts and Murmers piece is almost certainly making fun of the NY Times article Fizz just linked to. The guy in that article is definitely overpaying!
posted by Jahaza at 3:17 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


In LA, that would get you an 8x10 glossy picture of a house.

Luckily, the house has no shortage of these to hand out, while it's waiting tables and working on that screenplay.
posted by rokusan at 3:20 PM on September 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


I can specifically recall a similar kind of a joke being made in the film The Secret of My Success starring Michael J. Fox. He moves from a farm into the big city in order to follow his financial dreams and the very first apartment he rents is dingy, small, and the walls are paper thin. Very much a cliche that Hollywood is willing to exploit for a laugh. Because, you know those New Yorkers, oh boy....
posted by Fizz at 3:20 PM on September 20, 2016


I've lived in, um... six (?) countries, but I lived in NYC more years than I lived anywhere else before or since. That said, I still can't imaging having the nerve to start sentences that way, not even in jest.

In person, I only reluctantly admit it when meeting someone else who's, um, had the pleasure. They'll bring it up. I promise. Especially if they were born anywhere within about five hundred miles of the Hudson.
posted by rokusan at 3:22 PM on September 20, 2016


Related: So You Think Your Place Is Small?

Obviously, I don't think that people should have to live in 40 sq. ft. and share 1.5 bathrooms with 7 other tenants. But this guy also spends $220/month on a studio (which, as far as I can tell, isn't earning him any income). I don't believe that $650 and a cheaper hobby would get much more in Williamsburg, but it's hard to feel sorry for a guy who's obviously made the decision to sacrifice for his dreams.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:47 PM on September 20, 2016


I’m from New York. I don’t drive. I don’t know how to drive. I don’t know how to do something that teen-agers can do, and I’m proud of it.

I know the piece is satire, but this guy I have met multiple times.
posted by psoas at 4:03 PM on September 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


It’s important to live in terrible places when you’re young.

That's what living off-campus in college is for.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:09 PM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know the piece is satire, but this guy I have met multiple times.

I'm so embarrassed right now - I don't recall your name!
posted by griphus at 4:59 PM on September 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


In LA, that would get you an 8x10 glossy picture of a house.

Luckily, the house has no shortage of these to hand out, while it's waiting tables and working on that screenplay.


Waiter jokes are so over, nowadays the house is dropping off its headshot along with with your Postmates order.
posted by sideshow at 5:24 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


we lived together in the inside of a flickering fluorescent light bulb in the ceiling of the G train ($1680 a month, rent controlled) -- once lived with eight other people in a loft constructed entirely of cockroaches

Luxury!
posted by bendy at 5:37 PM on September 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I was so poor when I lived in New York I lived in New Jersey just kidding yall
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:41 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I grew up and got my license in LA but lived all my adult life in New York and won't go back because my CA license said "if you see pedestrians please weed them out of the gene pool"

and that makes me conflicted

trufax
posted by gusandrews at 7:09 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I once spent two nights in the Young Women's Republican Club. In Manhattan, the deli guys looked me up and down and told me they would serve me cheesecake today, but not tomorrow. I have half a family via text out of Brooklyn. I disguised myself as a drainpipe for two weeks, it was rough, but at least I had water to drink, at times. I am definitely not Yew Nork material.
posted by Oyéah at 7:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I want to join in but I just moved back to Brooklyn after an extended abscess absence and honestly I've never been herpes happier.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:55 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


A family members' attached house, with tiny rooms, old everything, in a meh neighborhood with no transit and literally no running water, in NYC is "valued" at over 400k. It is insane prices to buy in NYC.
Luxury! In Seattle, $400k will buy you a panhandling spot behind a homeless shelter between the hours of 2 and 4 PM on Wednesday.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:18 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is why, despite having lived in New York for 9 years, longer than I have in any single location ever, I still proudly describe myself as a masshole. It also means I know how to drive. And the rest of you don't.

(Although I am taken aback by how all other American cities are either a.) anywhere from somewhat to really small or b.) essentially suburbia with a downtown.)
posted by Hactar at 8:41 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I never lived in New York, but I went there almost every week growing up and it's made me judge other cities so harshly. I now live in Sydney, and I still tell people how cute it is that they think it's a real city or a big city.

People ask me why I didn't travel America, and I say that why would I travel anywhere when I was so close to New York?

Sydney's rents are atrocious, though. There was a humorous JG Ballard story about apartments in the future getting subdivided into tinier and tinier lots, but that rang so true for Sydney. I was once offered an 'apartment' that was just a curtain around a cot in the living area of an apartment. That's mostly due to Sydney's height restrictions and fear of high-density living, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:55 PM on September 20, 2016


Also, just out of curiosity, what kind of property would $550k buy in a US metro area?

I grew up in a suburban "city" (about 180,000 people as far as population, but not a city the way NYC or Boston is a city) in the South (US). That amount of money would get you a palatial house and a 1/2 acre in one of the best, most centrally located neighborhoods or it would buy you a palatial house with 5 acres in the more rural outskirts of the city. And by palatial, I mean ~4000 square feet (or more), 5+ bedrooms, etc. For another metric, you can rent a 2-3 bedroom house for $400/month.* Of course, if you want your kid to go to a school that isn't massively overcrowded and underfunded, you'll have to shell out for private school, so that's one tradeoff.

I live in the Boston metro area now, and $550,000 could probably get you a nice 1-2 bedroom (maybe even 3 bed) single family home or a nice condo in a larger apartment building in some areas (Watertown, Brighton, Waltham, etc).

*My parents basically made house shopping their hobby, so I know the real estate market of my home town very well. We spent 4 years looking at houses before we finally purchased the house we moved into when I was 12. Sunday was basically our designated "Open House" day. I mean, it's not like we actually could have afforded a $550,000 house, but at least half of our open house visits were "wish fulfillment" trips. In fact, even after we moved into the house we finally bought, there were still the occasional open house visits.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:59 PM on September 20, 2016


It makes sense to me to live in a densely populated urban area, since so many things that people want in 'houses' are useless. Kitchen? I don't cook, and you don't need to if you're within walking distance of several good restaurants and cafes (so no coffee shop needed, either). Backyard? Maybe there's a park, and if not you can just walk around the neighborhood. Windows? Nice to have, but I survived in a tiny apartment without them - a good screen will show you all of the world you need to. Privacy? Privacy is just being isolated from people and knowing that anything can happen to you.

The only disadvantage to living that way is finding a place to put your books.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:02 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you stack enough books on the rats they can't squirm around as much which really makes it easier to fall asleep on top of them
posted by beerperson at 9:15 PM on September 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


I remember watching a tv show about NYC apartment hunting where a person was being shown a tiny studio apartment that cost thousands of dollars per month. As if he were revealing a fantastic feature, the agent opened a weird, barred door in the kitchen right next to the tiny fridge and showed off the smallest bathroom I'd ever seen. It was a cramped wet room with zero storage; presumably you just straddled the toilet while washing your hair. The bar on the door was for towels, I guess.
posted by xyzzy at 9:30 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


My apartment was 3.5 Planck lengths wide and I considered it a steal.
posted by benzenedream at 9:56 PM on September 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I still proudly describe myself as a masshole. It also means I know how to drive. And the rest of you don't.

Massachusetts drivers are objectively the worst in the nation.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:28 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


A couple years back I was in Bonavista, Newfoundland. Bonavista had some 20,000 residents a century ago and has been declining ever since (a little under 5000 people in 1991, 3,589 in the last census). Houses are going begging. I saw a place the size of the house I grew up in (two floors plus attic and basement, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two acres of land – my pre-boomer parents bought it cheaply fifty years ago) for CDN$24,000; that is a little over US$18,000 right now [real].
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:37 PM on September 20, 2016


norcal here, $550k = vacant unbuildable lot full of poison oak

I don't know man, that lot at Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley doesn't even have poison oak and it would be a steal at $550k.
posted by clorox at 10:50 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


What's the IT job market like in Bonavista Newfoundland?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


we lived together in the inside of a flickering fluorescent light bulb in the ceiling of the G train ($1680 a month, rent controlled) -- once lived with eight other people in a loft constructed entirely of cockroaches

You had a whole light bulb? I paid $2,150 for just a ballast! Mind you, we did at least get free wifi from the restaurants at surface level from time to time
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:50 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Depends on the installed unit, but the ballast in some cases is included in the luminaire, not the lamp ("bulb" in layman's terms), so you may have actually been getting a better deal than you realized.
posted by clorox at 1:07 AM on September 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had a bad feeling about that landlord from the start
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:22 AM on September 21, 2016


Just remember: LA is a hell hole. You don't want to come here. It's awful. Ok, at least wait until I buy.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:02 AM on September 21, 2016


Aye, lad, but tell that to the youthAngelenos of today, and they won't believe you.
posted by kcds at 4:56 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The only disadvantage to living that way is finding a place to put your books.

I (living in London) have given up on buying physical books unless they're either art books from an exhibition, graphic novels, or autographed by the author; everything else I read on the Kindle (which has its own advantages; i.e., being able to highlight passages and have them show up in a text file). Also, I only buy CDs when there's no Bandcamp option; they end up in undignified piles which end up being cycled into a shoebox under a bed, and eventually traded to a second-hand shop for a fraction of the price.

I've still kept quite a few boxes of books and CDs, in some unexamined hope of someday having a big enough residence to line with shelves and build the appropriate media-bower befitting a thinking, aesthetic being.
posted by acb at 6:40 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


roach-infested place in Candler Park

Ahh, good old Oak Pointe Apartments. A mistake you'll only make once.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2016


I think I would actually watch a reality show involving San Franciscans and New Yorkers competing to find the most overpriced shithole in their respective cities. Winner gets a place a Oakland or Queens.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:06 AM on September 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Massachusetts drivers are objectively the worst in the nation.

No, Massachusetts roads and signage are objectively the worst in the nation.

Virginia, now there's some terrible driving.
posted by maryr at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2016


Virginia, now there's some terrible driving.

Brooklyn.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2016


This is the best essay I've ever read on NYC. It makes me so nostalgic for LA.

A friend who just moved down there is visiting this week. Maybe I can hide in her suitcase when she leaves.
posted by egypturnash at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2016


The space in that suitcase is going to cost $800 a month, until you get to LA and it'll cost you $700 a month but you'll have to buy a car and pay for insurance and gas.
posted by greta simone at 6:31 AM on September 22, 2016


the most real part of civil war: when spiderman and captain america couldn't get through a fight without mentioning they were from New York
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 11:05 AM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


What's the IT job market like in Bonavista Newfoundland?

Well, there is broadband, if that is what you're asking. Most of my most recent employment was on a computer and I lived five hours by land from where all my coworkers were based.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:51 PM on September 22, 2016


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