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Here’s which popular TV characters could afford their NYC apartments in 2017

Brooke DiPalma
Associate Producer

Life in New York City seems adventurous and affordable on TV shows like “Girls,” “Friends,” “Sex and City,” and “Seinfeld.”

However, a study by the mobile rental app Roomi looked at the residence, occupation, and average income of the characters to see if they could really afford their luxury pads in 2017.

New York City has notoriously high rental prices. The average prices for a one-bedroom in Manhattan and Brooklyn are $3,477 and $2,703, according to a report out in May from real-estate company Douglas Elliman.

On top of that, a report from the Economist in March 2017 found that New York City had the ninth-highest cost of living in the world, the only American city to make it to the top 10.

Most apartments in New York require tenants to make a yearly salary 40 times the monthly rent in order to sign a lease, according to Ajay Yadav, CEO of Roomi. However, hit TV show characters managed to score apartments they never could have afforded.

When determining the affordability of the apartments, Roomi looked at the average price per room for an apartment in a certain location without regard to the size of that apartment. The study also looked at each character’s estimated income in 2017 dollars. (Editor’s note: The study was for entertainment purposes only and may omit some facts about the TV characters’ finances.)

Courtesy of Roomi

“Girls” characters cannot afford NYC rent

“Girls” told the story of self-absorbed New York City millennials for six seasons, and it might have set some unrealistic expectations about who can get by in the Big Apple.

“It [Girls] seems realistic because they have roommates,” says Chelsea Lombardo, an avid viewer of the HBO show, “but they all live in a really nice area which is probably super unaffordable if you really think about it.”

All seven of the main characters can’t actually afford rent in New York, according to the Roomi survey. Hannah Horvath and Marnie Michaels share an apartment for a portion of the series. Realistically, however, the combined income of Horvath and Michaels makes it impossible to afford their rent in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In Greenpoint, the average rent per a room is $1,315 a month, according to Roomi. Hannah, a writer, and Marnie, a singer, have a combined estimated income that is less than $90,000, which makes their lifestyle depicted on the show impractical.

Courtesy of Roomi

Characters on “Seinfeld” cannot afford their apartments

While the Upper West Side serves as the main setting for “Seinfeld,” the main characters Jerry, Cosmo, Elaine, and George could not actually afford to rent there in 2017. Today the average rent per room in the Upper West Side is $1,454, according to Roomi.

Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian in the show, makes an estimated $35,310 and Elaine Benes, a publisher, makes an estimated $50,593. Both of them could not afford rent.

Courtesy of Roomi


The “Sex and the City” characters were living too large for their means

According to the study by Roomi, Carrie Bradshaw, a writer, and Samantha Jones, a public relations professional, both make a little over $50,000, which means that they cannot afford the Upper East Side in 2017. Today the average rent per a room in the Upper East Side is $1,387.

Charlotte York, an art dealer, and Miranda Hobbes, a lawyer, both make more than $80,000, which allows them to afford their lavish Upper East Side apartments.

Courtesy of Roomi

Chandler and Rachel are the only ‘Friends’ who can afford an apartment in the West Village

Rachel Green, Monica Geller, Joey Tribbiani, Dr. Ross Geller, and Chandler Bing all call 90 Bedford Street in the West Village home. However, it looks like Chandler, a processing manager, and Rachel, a buyer at Polo Ralph Lauren, are the only “friends” who could actually afford to rent on Bedford Street today.

At $1,750 per a room, this rent price is impossible for Monica, a restaurant chef, Joey, a data processor, and Ross, a college professor, who all make below $65,000.

The price of rent luckily never seems to tear this gang apart, however.

Courtesy of Giphy

“Don’t choose the neighborhood, choose the price.”

The ability to rent in New York City does not have to remain a dream. Yadav suggests that new renters choose an apartment based on the price of the rent and not on the ideal neighborhood.

“When you’re establishing your career and life in NYC, prefer different neighborhoods that are not very popular, but are actually becoming popular,” Yadav told Yahoo Finance. “Jamaica, Queens is far but it is cheap, around $750 a room.” Other places Yadav suggests that are not in the heart of Manhattan, but are close and affordable, include the East Bronx and West Bronx.

Yadav says that young people now move roughly every six to nine months. What may not be a rental option right now could be in the future.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeDiPalma1 

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