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Scrambling to get by on $400K/Yr in NYC
Old 04-04-2009, 10:33 PM   #1
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Scrambling to get by on $400K/Yr in NYC

We have had a few threads or posts about how people in NYC need huge salaries just to survive there, due to the high cost of living. People like me who have spent the entire life in backward places like AZ just couldn't understand it. However, I just ran across an article that sheds more light on this.

The subject of this Web article is a highly-educated married couple perhaps in their late 30s. With the husband having a doctorate from MIT, and the wife a dentist with her own practice, they make $400K/yr. Yet, they are scrambling to get by with their 3-yr old and a 9-mo old in a 800-sqft one bedroom apartment. This apartment, being on 5th Avenue, still has a price tag of $1M, and costs them 1/2 of the take-home salary. But more on this later.
Instead of going to the movies, they rent videos. Restaurants are reserved for once-a-quarter special occasions, rather than their monthly date nights. They now buy necessities at Wal-Mart and spend more time surfing the Web for sales than ever before.

Despite their income, Fou says he and his wife have little in savings and certainly not enough to support the family for any length of time should one of them lose a job. Nearly every dollar they earn is spoken for.

So, how do they spend their $400K yearly income? Here's what I got from the article

Gross = $400K
Taxes = $200K
Housing = $100K+
Child care = $40K+
Preschool = $15k

This leaves them with $45K for all other expenses -- medical, food, transportation, etc... -- which, even an ignoramus like myself knows, does not get them far in NYC.
Fou still plans to take the family on a winter vacation this year. He wants his son to get on his first pair of skis. But instead of flying to Colorado, they'll probably rent a car and drive up to Vermont for a long weekend. It's unlikely they will visit their families in Texas anytime soon, given the cost of airfares. So Fou purchased a webcam to ensure the grandparents can still see the kids regularly, albeit virtually.

So, why do they choose to live there? "We grew up in Dallas and Houston, respectively, and we just couldn't see ourselves living in the suburbs."

For a view of the 800-sqft $1M one-bedroom apartment for a family of 4, see video below.

See inside a 5th Avenue apartment - MSN Video

The full article is here.

Getting by on $400K
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:38 PM   #2
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We have had a few threads or posts about how people in NYC need huge salaries just to survive there, due to the high cost of loving.
High-priced hookers?
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:39 PM   #3
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Don't have the patience to open the links. If these guys aren't addicted to crack it's hard to fathom why intelligent educated people would choose this lifestyle.
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:41 PM   #4
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Heh heh heh... I caught it and tried to fix it, but was too late.

Yeah, that could be a cause, if the guy were single.
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:59 PM   #5
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Which subway goes from Fifth Avenue to Walmart?
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:45 PM   #6
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Which subway goes from Fifth Avenue to Walmart?
The O-Line.
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:13 AM   #7
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Yes, the O Line!

I was surprised to see that there appears to be no Walmarts in the Bronx, or in Queens even. However, the nearest one is in NJ, and just a few miles away.

Either our Manhattan dwellers have to take expensive cabs to go to Walmart, which explains their further financial shortcoming, or it could be that they have to walk from their apartment to Walmart and back, struggling uphill both ways.
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Old 04-05-2009, 01:05 AM   #8
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Yes, the O Line!

....
I knew someone would know! Leave it to Ha Ha

Yes, Walmarts are usually located in the boonies, I think.

Edit: wait-a-minute, no "O" line comes up on the subway map! Got me? With an "East Coast Bias"? LOL
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Old 04-05-2009, 01:22 AM   #9
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Life is full of choices.

They chose to live in a state with high taxes...
They chose to live on one of the most exclusive avenues in one of the expensive cities in the world...
They chose to have kids and send them to private schools...

Personally I think this is way beyond their pay grade.

But what can I say? We all have to live with our choices.
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Old 04-05-2009, 04:05 AM   #10
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This is like living beyond your means. If you stay in an exclusive area, you have to be able to handle the expenses. With 2 kids, even if you can afford the expenses now, you have to afford more savings. Otherwise, it's a no brainer - not a smart choice.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:16 AM   #11
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The subject of this Web article is a highly-educated married couple perhaps in their late 30s. With the husband having a doctorate from MIT, and the wife a dentist with her own practice, they make $400K/yr.
I have often wondered... What skill set(s) does it take to live comfortably in such a place (the whole New York City area)? Are the majority of the inhabitants Wall Street Wunderkinds? Or crooked CEOs? Just how many Madoffs does it take to produce such a place? What exactly supports this environment?

Or is it that this couple is young and simply going through that struggle with life -- investing in the future -- that we all do at that age? Will they eventually become comfortable and settle in as "natives" earning a "good" living?

Life is full of choices... Indeed.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:15 AM   #12
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Being young is the problem. When I was young, I considered taking a job at Hunter College. I didn't even ask them how much they paid or how much it costs to live in or near Manhattan. I just thought it would be neat to live there. I am glad I decided on another position.

My brother in law lived in Manhattan for years. Then he decided to have children. A few years and two boys later he moved to a small city in the Pacific NW.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:27 AM   #13
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But don't we feel sorry for them? Maybe they should be eligible for some sort of gubmint assistance, it's not their fault NYC is so expensive, those crooks on Wall St are probably to blame...
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:41 AM   #14
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I get the same vibe when I'm in San Francisco, can't resist looking at the 4rent and 4sale advertisements in awe thinking no way someone with a capped income like a cop or librarian could possibly live there.

I always assumed a lot of the Chinese families there do it right they go multi-generational with the housing so they're dug in at the house grandfather bought in 1951.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:46 AM   #15
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Off topic = hah that web site from article is something else, when you click "print friendly" it stills show it with only one of the four pages at a time.
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:02 AM   #16
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Spent alot of time in NYC while with mega corp ... over educated people are a dime a dozen. You quickly realize you're just running with the pack (like everyone everyplace else).
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:16 AM   #17
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I thought the advantage of living in Manhattan was supposed to be that one could walk to great restaurants and entertainment. If this couple can only afford to eat out once a quarter, and not even once a month, that doesn't get them very far.

I think they are loonie-toons - - what a miserable life they have, despite their education and qualifications. But perhaps there is something else that they like about living there.
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:25 AM   #18
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I wonder where the nanny lives. At least s/he lives on $40K and works on Fifth Avenue.

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Old 04-05-2009, 09:36 AM   #19
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I thought the advantage of living in Manhattan was supposed to be that one could walk to great restaurants and entertainment. If this couple can only afford to eat out once a quarter, and not even once a month, that doesn't get them very far.

I think they are loonie-toons - - what a miserable life they have, despite their education and qualifications. But perhaps there is something else that they like about living there.
NYC was such a place. The same malaise that has brought our banking system to it's knees has ruined Manhattan - too much money.

I don't think they're loonies, just misguided - searching for a dream that once was but is no longer. They need to reassess their objectives and priorities.
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Old 04-05-2009, 10:26 AM   #20
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They choose to live there....they must need the kick it gives them.
On a side note....haha.....I kind of consider myself a person who has got around a lot. Brought up in WA....13+ year in the UK....10 years Germany...5 years Okinawa.........but there are some of you out there who just aren't "normal"....how the hell would somebody living in Seattle know which line in NY goes where? Some of you are like "Jason Bourne"...just kind of like icebergs.....some of you have done so much that it is a bit scary. The only time I was in NY....I would have killed little old ladies (and possibly a few small children) to get the hell out of there......some people actually think it is heaven....
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