New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and according to some studies, even the most expensive. Half of the families that live here barely make ends meet. Researchers estimate that you would need to earn $100 a year just to afford rent, food, and transportation to work. But what about the American dream of well-being and prosperity? Edition Curbed asked young New Yorkers about their dream life and calculated how much it would cost.
Journalists asked nine young people how they would like to live in 15 years. They then spoke to those who already live that kind of life in New York and asked them how much it all costs, from babysitters to electricity bills. And that's what happened.
Aliya wants a house in Brooklyn Heights, well-groomed eyebrows and three children
Aliya is a 30-year-old corporate lawyer based in Manhattan.
What does she want (POV)
The image that comes to mind is Sunday in Brooklyn Heights. I just went to a Quaker meeting with my husband and our children. We stroll along the promenade before returning to our - in an ideal world - townhouse.
I'd like to live two blocks from the Brooklyn Heights waterfront in a three or four bedroom house. I would send the kids to Brooklyn Friends because I went to a Quaker school for a few years and this community really shaped me. And I want them to play a musical instrument or do something that interests them, like theater.
Since I'll be working, we'll need babysitting after school. I want an SUV and a place to park it. We will shop at Trader Joe's and Sahadi's and have a date night with my husband at least once a week. And I really want someone to clean my whole house once a month.
In my future life I will wear beautiful vintage designer clothes and buy a new piece maybe every couple of months. I would also like a membership to the gym, where there are Pilates classes and a sauna.
My only big personal expense is my eyebrows. I will have them plucked and dyed by someone who works with models and influencers.
Every month I will travel - small trips, maybe a short vacation with my husband or a trip alone. I like the idea of saying, "OK, me and my best friend are going to Nashville or Austin." And we'll just stay in a nice simple hotel with Wi-Fi.
My sister lives in Mallorca, Spain, so the whole family will be visiting for two or three weeks. When I need to fly internationally, I would fly business class. But I would put my children in economy class. I saw a woman do this - her children were 10 and 8 years old. And I thought, “This is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen.”
How much is it
Three- to four-bedroom townhouses are rare in Brooklyn Heights; Mostly there are five or six bedrooms. Aaliyah would be suited for the beautiful but somewhat dated six-bedroom house at 138 Henry Street, which is on the market for the highly unusual price of $4,6 million. Renovated homes in the area typically cost between $8 million and $12 million.
She will pay approximately $205 to close the deal (including 801% property tax), $1,5 monthly, and then $23 monthly for utilities and general maintenance. All this is the bare minimum. Owning a brownstone leaves you vulnerable to a million terrifying things: wind and rain getting caught in parapets and causing leaks. Porch in need of repair; the facade must be restored (usually every 944 years, but the cost can range from $3 to $000). Let's say she has a relatively small leak this year: $40. Then she needed to paint ($50, according to the owner of the Windsor Terrace brownstone) and fully furnish the entire place (about $000).
She will invest $5 in her Subaru Forester and then pay $000 per month. A garage will cost about $788 per month.
When it comes to private schools, tuition fees are just the beginning. At Brooklyn Friends, tuition costs $56 per year. In addition, parents are constantly pressured to donate to a charity.
“During my first year of school, one of my parents literally forced me to donate,” says the father of two, who pays for school through financial assistance from his grandparents. “It was pretty tactless.” In the end, he gave $500 each for both children.
He said, “The school recommended that both children take after-school activities and undergo neuropsychological testing, which is not typically covered by health insurance, to determine if they have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).”
Another parent of children studying at this private institution said: “Schools are like clubs. If they think they can get money out of you, they will happily organize a multicultural evening with an auction.” Several parents talked about spending money to keep their kids “in the pack”: saying yes to inviting friends to Nets games ($150), throwing parties at the private school's popular Urban Air adventure park ($849), including a virtual one reality, decorations and three pizzas).
Music lessons for a child. They can be hired for a minimum of $30 per hour. And while kids may be running around in the backyard all summer, chances are they'll want to go to a camp their friends are going to. For example, at New Country Day Camp in Staten Island ($6700 per summer).
Plus monthly house cleaning ($360), weekly date night at Felice or Ingas ($214), babysitting ($120 per evening), Trader Joe's grocery delivery ($400, weekly bill for a Brooklyn family of four interviewed), extras travel (let's say $150).
Membership at Life Time Fitness Center in Dumbo ($259 per month) because nearby Equinox doesn't have a sauna. Twice-a-year visits to Alia's favorite brow artist Azi Sachs ($250 excluding tip). Vintage clothing habit ($800). Six weekend trips alone or with a friend (six total because she's a corporate lawyer with three kids) to cities like Nashville - $1000 per trip.
Plus a $3 monthly fund for other expenses, such as new sheets and gifts for other children's birthdays or a pediatrician visit for a 400-year-old.
Total cost: $ 712 329 per year.
Tarek wants 'absurd parties', travel to Europe and no kids
Tarek is a 24-year-old aspiring actor from Brooklyn.
What does he want (first person)
A friend of mine worked for the Milton Resnick and Pat Passloaf Foundation, two recently deceased artists who lived in Manhattan for many years and were happily married. But they also had their own houses within walking distance of each other. A partnership for two houses would be amazing: then I have my own housing and my own place.
I will definitely have a cat, and I want her to be truly happy. Something like what I saw on the Internet. People have created tubular structures that go through walls and out the window so that their cats can climb through them. So I would build some crazy tunnel to give her joy and freedom.
I would like to buy an apartment next to the Herbert von King Park - a two-room apartment with an office, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher and a fairly large bedroom with a double bed. Plus either a backyard or a living room big enough to throw absurd parties for 100 people.
I think it's important to clean your own home, so no housekeeper. But I want someone to prepare my tax returns.
In addition, I want a nutritionist to give me a grocery list. I want to work with a personal trainer twice a week and go for acupuncture once a week. I also want to join a football league.
Once a week I go to see movies at Angelica and have dinner at a place like Macosa Trattori. Twice a month I see a Broadway show and go to a nice jazz bar. I have a Chevy Volt - and a place to park it.
Every couple of months I take a three-day weekend and go to Acadia in Maine or a weekend in the Hamptons or Fire Island. And every year I spend a month outside of America — I stay on Airbnbs in Geneva, Lucerne and Berlin, go to clubs a lot and swim in lakes.
I give extra money to charity, which can be $1000 or $10 a month.
How much is it
Essentially, Tarek wants to live the same life as he does now - hanging out with friends, traveling on weekends. This is obviously possible. But some of his colleagues aged 40 and older warned us that as he gets older, his habits may be changing quietly to more costly ones.
Marriage to two houses certainly brings benefits: freedom in interior design, more independence. But it eliminates one of the main pleasures of a romantic relationship—sharing the cost of housing. Reporters found Tarek a two-bedroom apartment a few blocks from the park with a private outdoor area at 508 Lexington Avenue for $788. The estimated closing fee will be $300, the mortgage will be $26 per month. The building is new and all electric, so utilities will cost $477 per month. He'll probably live there for a couple of years before things start to break down.
It is unknown how the neighbors will react to his “absurd parties.” But he will pay $1000 for each (this is for 26 bottles of wine, 13 bottles of liquor and 125 bottles of beer). A garage for his Chevy Volt ($7 deposit; $000 per month toward car payment and insurance) will cost $1 per month.
Let's say on his month-long trip to Switzerland and Germany, Tarek stays in Airbnbs for $200/night. And a lot depends on how much he eats outside the home. So let's give Tarek a few options: some days he cooks ($70/week for groceries), other days he goes out to dinner ($225/week, say). Also, during the trip, he will have to pay someone to take care of his cat. For $199 a year, he can get a TrustedHousesitters membership as a “standard pet parent.” It is a home sharing platform that connects pet owners with travelers looking for accommodation. In total, this month-long trip, including cat accommodation, will cost $9.
As for cat "tube structures," Taiwanese brand Myzoo sells aesthetically pleasing versions for $100. A wall-mounted “capsule cat bed” with a massive convex window costs an additional $155. Tasker from TaskRabbit can install it for about $62/hour. Plus his total expenses for the cat are $1 per year for litter, food, checkups and insurance.
Weekly shopping at Park Slope Food Co-op - $120, dinner at Macosa Trattoria - $50. Accountant – about $1 for tax assistance. Twice-weekly training at the Vita Wellness Center ($600 per week), weekly acupuncture ($158) and several sessions with a nutritionist ($35 each). Co-ed football league membership ($95 at Bedford Armory). Tickets to Broadway ($180 each) and nights at Birdland Jazz Club ($130 plus $50 minimum for food or drinks).
Weekends on Fire Island and Maine. For the latter, assuming he shares a $900 log cabin on Airbnb per weekend with his partner and spends $80 a day on food, that would be $900.
In addition, a monthly fund of $2 for other expenses. This includes movies at the Angelica, a trip to the cobbler, a new pair of jeans and spontaneous drinking.
Total cost: $ 127 540 per year.
Chen wants a duplex apartment in Jackson Heights, a pair of fluffy dogs, and his family to live upstairs.
Chen is a 29-year-old advertising producer from Queens.
What does she want (POV)
My partner and I will be living in an apartment building somewhere in Queens near Manhattan - Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights. I don't care if it's new or old. But ideally the house should not touch other buildings so that we can maximize the amount of light. It should have a parking space and two apartments. My partner's parents will move to another apartment after retirement. They are immigrants and we would like to take care of them. Plus they can help with children. We'll reimburse them for child care and cover their housing and other daily expenses: food, cell phone bills, and anything else they'll need (they'll be on Medicare by then). We already have a car, so we'll have something to get around with.
I would like one child, because it is much easier to manage the education of one child. We would also have two big fluffy dogs. Now I have a dog and my parents like to say that she has a better life than many children in other parts of the world. She eats high quality food and gets groomed every six to eight weeks. Once or twice a year I buy her a new sweater.
We travel every year with the whole family for two weeks - maybe to Europe. And we stay in a good Airbnb. We go to museums and eat at restaurants. During the summer we enroll our child in day camp and on the weekends we go on day trips, hikes, and fishing trips in the Hudson Valley or Connecticut.
How much is it
If Chen wants a true two-family home, with two entrances and proper separation between apartments, then in Jackson Heights they typically cost between $1,5 million and $1,7 million. Monthly payments in this case would be $7, and estimated closing costs - $537. She will pay two utility bills ($44 per month) and take care of both parts of the house, plus a large basement.
So let's say it's pouring rain in New York City again this year and her basement is flooded. Chen may have to spend $15 on an industrial sump pump.
Since she will be grocery shopping for a family of five, let's give Chen a budget of $400 per week based on the grocery bills of two families participating in the Wegmans-Costco-Target scheme.
Six dog owners across the city spoke about their expenses. Most of them spend between $1 and $000 per year. This goes towards meeting the basic needs of every dog: food, checkups and insurance, vaccinations, flea and worm medications. Regular groomer appointments will cost $2 each. But anything can happen to a dog. Debbie, an elderly Chihuahua with a heart murmur, costs her owner an additional $000 a year on medications (Proin for incontinence, Denamarin for liver support) and $80 in doctor visits (cardiogram every 600 months, occasional stomach upset, glandular expression every three weeks).
Another dog owner said that last year her pet had a tumor removed unexpectedly. The operation cost about $2. And since the tumor was on his shoulder, the dog could not climb the stairs. So she had to rent an Airbnb on the ground floor for a week.
Plus a birthday party in the park ($300 for pizza, lemonade, balloons and cake), an annual trip to Europe ($6, according to one Brooklyn family of three who recently traveled to Spain, including a ticket for 500- a year old child who needed a separate seat). Plant a garden and maintain it - $2 upfront, $1 a year for supplies.
Plus a monthly insurance fund of $1 (diapers, wipes, new stroller, baby clothes, fishing gear, hiking boots).
Total cost: $153 per year after a one-time payment of $504.
Audrey wants her kids to have a childhood like hers in the Upper East Side (UES), Long Island summer
Audrey is 25 years old, works at an investment firm in Manhattan and dreams of having three children.
What does she want (POV)
I would live on the Upper East Side with my husband and three children. My dream is a 4 bedroom apartment with natural light and high ceilings, ideally on Madison or Fifth Avenue. It can be either in an old renovated house, or in a more modern one.
We are renting one car (seven or eight seater) and will have a second home on Long Island. I cook three or four nights a week. The rest of the time I order food from a local Italian restaurant. And every week I have dinner with friends, maybe in the West Village at Cluny or Rosemary's.
I wish we had Jets season tickets. I need a manicure once a month, a haircut three times a year, and highlights if I start going gray. I would also like a high-end gym membership and regular facials.
I want my kids to go to one of the magnet schools because they are really good. For example, Hunter or Bronx Science. We need a nanny from 9:00 to 18:00 while my husband and I are at work. My children will play an instrument and play sports. In the summer I'll send the kids to summer camp on Long Island, and during the holidays we'll go somewhere in the Caribbean and stay at a resort with a beach and activities.
On the Upper East Side, the subway can be very inconvenient. And I wouldn't want my kids to travel alone. Therefore, it is likely that we will use a taxi.
How much is it
The apartment Audrey described would cost at least $4,5 million. And she may not be so beautiful - here you pay for the address. But things could be better if she's willing to give up one bedroom. For example, a three-bedroom apartment at 1088 Park Avenue was recently listed for $2,8 million (two children can share one room). There will be 50% down payment + $151 closing fee and property taxes. Her monthly payments (including utilities) will be $166.
If Audrey needs professional decorating help, one interior designer who specializes in luxury apartments in Manhattan says it will cost at least $60 per room. Children's rooms - half the price.
Every building sometimes needs a lobby repair or repaint, and every resident must chip in. This can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Let's say the Audrey building needs facade work and a mechanical overhaul of the elevator this year. One Manhattan co-op owner said he recently received a bill for $19 to cover those costs.
Getting into Hunter College Elementary School is extremely difficult. Offers of admission are made to only 50 applicants per class after two rigorous rounds of testing. If that doesn't work out, Audrey's zip code means she has access to one of the best public schools in the entire city, PS 6 (some parents even do address fraud to get their kids into it).
As for music, piano lessons for three children would cost $3/year per child. Dance for one child is $000 per semester, soccer for another is $1 per year.
Many full-time nannies are paid between $60 and $000 per year.
Audrey's second home - say, on the North Fork - would cost about $800. Closing costs could be $000, taxes $38, water and electric $291 per year. One North Fork artist estimates she spends an average of $16 a year on renovations. Lawn care and trash removal will cost a total of $625 per month.
Luxury Family Vacation at Four Seasons Anguilla – $22 for flights and hotel meals. Add in three kid's birthday parties at the trampoline park ($250 each).
Ten weeks of summer day camp in Southold for two youngest children - $525 per week. Sailing camp at Southold Yacht Club for her oldest child - $1. FreshDirect products - about $260 per month (based on the budgets of two similar families). Weekly dinner at Cluny-esque Café - $1200 and two nights of take-out at Caffe Buon Gusto - $200 each.
New Audi Q7 with insurance - $1 per month and garage parking at UES - a whopping $656. Audrey's personal expenses are $999 per year for manicures, haircuts, highlights, facials, and an Equinox membership. Two Jets season tickets cost $5. Add to that a monthly fund of $500. That's what one Brooklyn mother of two estimates her budget for taxis, weekend meals with family, an iPad for the kids and holiday ideas.
Total cost: $521 per year after a one-time payment of $934.