Monday, April 21, 2008

A bank-breaking 'dream' apartment

Each time I set foot into my dingy, dusty single in Patton Hall, I take solace in the idea that come October, I will be living in a fabulous Boston flat. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed Princeton’s dorm room system. I arrived in the fall of 2004 to a suite of seven other giggling girls. I am happy to say that I am still friends with all of them, in part because we have been cooped up on campus over the past four years. A large part of the cohesion of Princeton’s social scene comes from the fact that most of its students live on campus – unless they are forced off by alcohol violations. It is easy to study or hang out in a friend’s room late at night because we don’t have to worry about walking home on the streets of Philadelphia, like the students at Penn.

By senior year, I have come to realize that enough is enough. I want to live like a normal human being, have a kitchen, and maybe a little window box where I can grow basil and a medley of herbs that I will soon learn to cook with. I want to have a nice, queen size bed and invest in furniture that I can keep for years to come.

One key fact that I often forget is the expensive and tiresome process of finding a dream apartment. A New York Times story on Sunday laid out a ‘how-to’ guide of finding an apartment in the ‘City’. A shocking part of the article was an outline of average costs: a one-bedroom apartment in Village is about $3,100 a month, while the average studio is about $2,200. Having a doorman jacks up the price of a one-bedroom up to $3,500.

Even more preposterous, it that landlords expect tenants to earn at least 40 times the monthly rent. That means that to snag a $3,100 one-bedroom bachelor pad, a graduating senior would need to make $124,000 in annual salary. Landlords allow recent graduates to co-sign with a ‘guarantor’, ie: mom and pops. But that guarantor must present proof of a good credit rating, including bank stubs, tax returns and other private records that a parent might not want to fax over.

The article really hit home the idea that Princeton students are living in a vicious circle. No matter how much we try to break free of the well-trod paths to consulting and investment banking, we live in a world of financial constraints that necessitate a great salary if we aim to be independent professionals. Or, at least, independent professionals living in New York or Boston. Maybe it’s time to expand our horizons.

For the full New York Times article, see


Anonymous said...

As an alum married to another alum, both of whom work in finance, I can tell you that this article is full of shit.

If you want a beautiful doorman apartment in a great location, and want a broker to find it for you, it will cost you whatever ridiculous amount of money this article states. If you are willing to live a little further away, go without the doorman, do a little legwork, or make other minor compromises, you can easily find a 2-person apartment for less than 2200.

Anonymous said...

By this reasoning, would an article about how expensive caviar is in midtown be "full of sXXt" for not mentioning that fresh chicken eggs can be had for pennies from a farmer's market in Greenpoint?

I don't think you can call a price "ridiculous" just because you don't want to pay for things like location and a doorman. Instead, you should thank your lucky stars that you can stand minor compromises and legwork.

The article is accurate for what it claims to give prices for.

Anonymous said...

The post is disingenuous at best and more likely representative of the worst attitudes of entitlement. Yes nice apartments in NYC can be very expensive. So what? No one is entitled to them. If you care so much about your material circumstances, become an investment banker. If you don't, then deal with the fact that you won't be able to afford all the great stuff that wealthy professionals can. The poster is fortunate to have the opportunity to make that choice at all, and shouldn't complain because she can't have her cake and eat it too.

Boggled '06 said...

As always, the average Princeton student's sense of entitlement boggles my mind. Maybe they should add this to ECO100 (which I'm told 80% of all Princeton students take): you can't expect someone to hand your dreams to you on a silver platter.

Can't afford that apartment now? Get a job, live in the 'burbs for a while (commuting into the city if need be), and when you can afford to do so, move to the City.