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The Real Cost of These 15 TV Apartments

Joel Anderson

When the quirky neighbor slides into the lead’s apartment and the studio audience applauds, there’s probably one thing on your mind — how in the world do these characters afford a Manhattan loft when they work half an episode per season?

OK, maybe you’re actually paying attention to the story, but those with wandering minds want to know. That’s why GOBankingRates found the cost of famous living spaces based on equivalent 2019 real estate listings. Find out how feasible — or grossly unrealistic — your favorite shows really are.

1. Jerry's Apartment: 'Seinfeld'

Jerry Seinfeld’s TV apartment on the Upper Wide Side wasn’t just a TV home; it was a hub. Whether Kramer was sliding in or Elaine and George (the latter of whom lived in some suspiciously nice New York apartments for spending much of the show on unemployment) casually strolled through to talk about their latest breakups, apartment 5A was where the magic — and most of the “nothing” in a show about nothing — happened.

How Much It Might Cost

Though Jerry’s one-bedroom isn’t particularly fancy, it does have a nice skyline view. Zillow’s rent index for Jerry’s TV zip code is currently a whopping $4,616 a month, but Jerry’s one-bedroom with a view on 81st street in Manhattan would be less. According to Zillow, one similar one-bedroom, one-bathroom in the same area — albeit one with just over 400 square feet of floor space —will run you about $2,800 a month. So, given that Zillow pegs the price per square foot at about $5 a month, it’s probably safe to assume that a spot as large as Jerry’s would rent for at least $3,000 and maybe closer to $4,000. Which is, you know, rather pointedly not “nothing.”

2. Sheldon and Leonard's Place: 'The Big Bang Theory'

Fan favorite “The Big Bang Theory” recently called it quits after a run of 12 seasons that had it among the most-watched shows on television for its time. The story of how Nebraskan waitress/aspiring actress Penny meets super-smart university physicists Leonard and Sheldon, who live across the hall in their Pasadena apartment complex, captivated audiences for over a decade, and plenty of people came to feel as though Apartment 4A was a part of their own home, as well.

How Much It Might Cost

It’s pretty obvious when a show tries to pass off a cavernous TV set as a New York apartment anyone other than Saudi royalty couldn’t possibly afford. The rental market in Pasadena, though, doesn’t have the same notoriety as the Big Apple.

And in the case of “The Big Bang Theory,” the lifestyle of the characters actually lines up with what one might expect based on their area and profession. The address of the apartment on the show is 2311 North Los Robles — fictional, as North Los Robles actually ends with the 2200 block — which would put it in the 91101 zip code. Zillow’s rent index there is $2,528, listing at $2.83 a square foot. And a reasonable comp for Leonard and Sheldon’s two-bedroom apartment rents for $2,528 — well within what two university professors should be able to handle.

Of course, the rent index was about $2,000 as recently as the summer of 2014, so maybe the show missed an opportunity for a “very special episode” about Penny being forced out of her apartment by rising housing costs.

3. Charlie's Flat: 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Many sitcoms can become an important part of our lives, with the characters working their way into our hearts in a way that makes them feel like family. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is not one of those shows. If anything, the fun of this show is watching the gang at Paddy’s Pub — Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Sweet Dee and Frank — fail spectacularly as they pursue their diabolical schemes. Where most shows set out to build sympathy for their protagonists, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” encourages you to revel in watching genuinely bad people not get what they want.

As such, the hovel of an apartment Charlie calls home, with its filthy state and herds of feral cats outside, is perfect. Charlie is a man who eschews most creature comforts, which is good because he isn’t going to find any where he lives.

How Much It Might Cost

There are precious little clues in the show as to where in Philadelphia Charlie’s apartment is actually located, and the level of degradation Charlie and Frank live in might be difficult to replicate today without breaking a great many anti-tenement laws. As such, this could be one of the more difficult ones to work out, given that the sort of places that might rent out an apartment like Charlie’s probably aren’t listing on Zillow.

But, one Zillow listing might provide a somewhat decent comparison in a small studio renting for $550 a month. It does offer the luxury of an in-unit bathroom, though, so even that might be a little swanky for the likes of Charlie.

4. Dexter's Condo: 'Dexter'

What list of wacky, beloved sitcom characters would be complete without serial killer Dexter Morgan? Of course, in truth, “Dexter” is a gritty drama about a serial killer who is taught by his father — a police officer — to harness his hunger to kill by only targeting other people who have killed or done serious wrong.

Regardless of Dexter’s moral conundrum about how to take life in a morally defensible fashion, his Miami apartment right on the ocean turned more than a few heads. The gorgeous condo helped people imagine living in Miami and enjoying the fine coffee and Cuban food while sitting in the ocean breeze, but hopefully not the murdering people and hiding their bodies thing.

Check Out: 25 Popular TV Shows With the Highest-Paid Casts

How Much It Might Cost

The show might have called it 8240 Palm Terrace #10B in Miami, Florida, but Dexter’s condo has a real-world location — the Bay Harbor Club at 1155 103rd Street on Bay Harbor Island. And the cost to live in the same sleepy community will currently run you from $200,000 to $239,000, with no options to rent. If you did buy, Zillow’s mortgage calculator suggests you would be looking at a monthly payment under $1,000 a month — pretty reasonable for a police blood spatter expert.

5. Olivia's Apartment: 'Scandal'

The apartment in the hit Shonda Rhimes show “Scandal” is the residence of crack public relations expert and White House communications director Olivia Pope. And despite the sort of prominent official you might expect to have a swanky D.C. residence, Olivia’s residence remains somewhat modest.

“Scandal” production designer Corey Kaplan told “Today” about Olivia Pope’s cozy, stylish apartment, stating, “We didn’t want the apartment to be large so Olivia can cocoon in her space.”

How Much It Might Cost

Olivia’s place is large enough for a dining room and piano, though, so it’s not exactly a postage stamp. And the Zillow rent index for the 20001 zip code — centrally located to her White House work (and her presidential mistress-ing) — is $2,895, listing at $3.24 per square foot. For a reasonable comp, try The Ashton at Judiciary Square. That apartment complex is renting one-bedroom apartments with a little over 1,000 square feet of space for $3,326 a month.

If you’re not in D.C., here’s a secret: The designers based the look off of the Rococo stylings of the historic El Royale apartments in Los Angeles.

6. Carrie's Brownstone: 'Sex and the City'

The long lunches, designer shoes and swanky New York living depicted in “Sex and the City” has helped make the series a huge favorite for many viewers, ultimately airing for six seasons and spawning two successful movies. And while many different parts of the city of New York feature prominently throughout the show, the one location that might get the most repeat business is Carrie Bradshaw’s cozy apartment in a Manhattan brownstone.

How Much It Might Cost

If you thought “Seinfeld” was unrealistic, you should be downright apoplectic over “Sex and the City.” In case you’re wondering, writers without a book on The New York Times’ best-seller list usually can’t afford a single pair of Louboutins, let alone an apartment in Manhattan without a second (and third) job.

The 1866 brownstone used as the exterior facade for Carrie Bradshaw’s modest rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village actually sold for $9.85 million in 2012, for instance. Of course, the real thing is a five-bedroom with six fireplaces and herringbone wood floors in the West Village.

As for Carrie’s fictional pad, which would be an apartment on the Upper East Side, the Zillow rent index for the 10021 zip code is over $4,000, listing at $5.29 per square foot. A similarly sized and appointed one-bedroom on nearby East 74th Street currently goes for $3,200 per month — which is probably not realistic for a columnist with an addiction to Manolo Blahniks.

7. Frasier's Condo: 'Frasier'

Kelsey Grammer spent a full 20 years playing the same character — 11 seasons on “Frasier” as well as nine of the 11 seasons on “Cheers.” And the second act of the Frasier story took him back to his hometown of Seattle, where he lived in the wildly elegant Elliot Bay Towers.

Frasier’s apartment is all about that panoramic city view. It’s also fairly unique among TV apartments for single characters, as it needs three bedrooms to accommodate his dad, Daphne and Eddie, his father’s Jack Russel Terrier. What’s more, it also works to upsell just how elite the location is — and how rich and snobby Frasier is — rather than trying to suggest the space is home to a bunch of working stiffs.

How Much It Might Cost

Broker Jeff J. Reynolds of Windermere told Curbed that they estimated Frasier’s pad would sell for about $3.63 million in September 2018. If you’d prefer to rent, luxury view apartments in the same zip code as Kerry Park — where the picture used as the backdrop was taken — have a Zillow rent index of over $3,000. For a luxury three-bedroom condo? Harder to say, but a three-bedroom house near Kerry Park rents for $4,200 a month, meaning Frasier’s hypothetical rent would easily have cleared $5,000 a month once you factor in the sweeping views and luxurious spa tub in the master bathroom.

That may or may not be realistic on the salary of a local radio host, but in defense of the show, they made a point of upselling Frasier’s celebrity and salary. So if you’re going to take issue with anything, it should probably be with how realistic it is for someone with his job to earn that much, not with his job being able to afford such a nice condo.

8. Mulder's 1-Bedroom Apartment: 'The X-Files'

Fox’s sci-fi hit “The X-Files” was light-years ahead of its time and ultimately launched the careers of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and show-runner Vince Gilligan, who would leverage his “X-Files” cache into a chance to make “Breaking Bad.” The show pits the articulate, scientific process of FBI agent Dr. Dana Scully against the conspiracy theories and occult lore of her partner, Fox Mulder.

And while most of the show has Scully and Mulder crisscrossing the country chasing aliens, liver-eating monsters and prehistoric green bugs that will mummify you in minutes, it does occasionally show Mulder at home in his one-bedroom apartment. Back when the show aired, the Washington City Paper nailed down the location of Special Agent Fox Mulder’s apartment to 42-2630 Hegel Place in Alexandria, Virginia — not too far from his basement office at the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.

How Much It Might Cost

Almost everything about Mulder’s apartment is outright screaming “bachelor pad,” from its messy state to its rundown furniture. As such, the projected cost of about $1,800 — based on Zillow’s rent index for one-bedrooms in the 22314 zip code — might seem pretty steep for what you’re getting. It is, however, not outrageous to imagine a career FBI agent earning enough to afford that rent. The hallucinogenic tap water, though, is kind of a rental red flag.

9. Nick, Winston and Schmidt's Loft: 'New Girl'

Few locations in the show “New Girl” matter as much as the loft apartment where the main characters live. After all, the genesis of the show is Jess needing to find a new place to live and ultimately landing with Winston, Nick and Schmidt. And the apartment hardly disappoints: Four bedrooms, a bathroom big enough for a high school gym and high warehouse-like ceilings right in the middle of Los Angeles’ hip downtown Arts District. That sort of space would likely be unaffordable were it located in suburban Wichita, Kansas, let alone right in the midst of one of the hotter neighborhoods in the country.

How Much It Might Cost

The “New Girl” apartment is what Curbed Los Angeles describes as a “housing unicorn that likely does not exist at all.” And it’s right: As of June 2019, no such listing exists on Zillow. In 2016, Time and Trulia estimated that the massive loft would rent for roughly $7,395 per month or around $1,850 per roommate. However, if you do want to use a local apartment to estimate the price, one three-bedroom apartment listed on Zillow with about 1,710 square feet is currently renting for $5,100 a month, making Trulia’s figure seem more than plausible.

10. Monica's Apartment: 'Friends'

While it never won points for a creative title, “Friends” proved to be an unlikely smash hit that ultimately more than moved out of the shadow of its NBC Thursday-night counterpart “Seinfeld.” The on-again-off-again romance of Ross and Rachel warmed hearts even as Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and Monica all supplied the laughs. And one of the sets that hosted the bulk of the show’s scenes was the two-bedroom apartment of Rachel and Monica.

“Friends” waves away Monica’s West Village apartment as inherited from her grandmother and being rent-controlled. Assuming the show’s writers were referring to Monica’s maternal grandmother, it’s also established that dear Althea passes away in the first season, which adds another layer of deception to the girls’ illegal subletting.

How Much It Might Cost

The building used for the exteriors in the show is located at 90 Bedford Street in the Village. And the Zillow rent index for a two-bedroom apartment in the 10014 zip code comes to about $7,400 a month. Though Monica and Rachel both get better jobs as the seasons go on, it’s hard to believe that a cook and a waitress — their jobs in the first season — could afford the place. In fact, both characters experience periods of unemployment while living there.

Not to mention, it seems wildly unlikely that a landlord would be willing to continue renting at a fraction of the market rate without at least checking up on whether sweet old Althea is still alive.

11. Blanche's House: 'The Golden Girls'

OK, so while technically not an apartment, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia are all renting rooms from Blanche, so this one squeaks in anyway. And the home of one of Miami’s most eligible bachelorettes was the site of plenty of long, cold stares from Dorothy, rambling stories about Saint Olaf from Rose and plenty of home-spun Sicilian wisdom from Sophia.

How Much It Might Cost

The exteriors of the house used on the show are actually — shocker — a house in Los Angeles. But, the official address for the house on the show is 6151 Richmond Street in Miami, which does not actually exist. As such, it’s anyone’s guess about where in Miami the ladies really did live.

The median sale price for a home in Miami is $335,200, which certainly seems like it would be within Blanche’s price range when her husband was still alive and supporting her. As for what she might be charging her dearest friends to fill the other three bedrooms, it’s a lot harder to say without being able to nail down a neighborhood. However, the Zillow rent index on a four-bedroom is $2,447, which would mean the market rate would be a little over $600 per person — pretty reasonable for a retiree, substitute teacher and social worker.

12. Will and Grace's Apartment: 'Will and Grace'

The delightfully dysfunctional couple that is Will Truman and Grace Adler — as well as their sidekicks Jack and Karen — helped make the show “Will and Grace” so funny that you can almost forget that it also broke some important barriers for depicting LGBT characters and subject matters on network television. But, watching as Will and Grace each fail at relationship after relationship only to return to each other was ultimately so much fun that the show came back in 2017 as “Will & Grace.”

The primary location for the majority of the show’s hijinks was the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment they shared (in a studio in Los Angeles) on the Upper West Side.

How Much It Might Cost

The location of the exterior used in the show is 155 Riverside Drive, putting them on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — where the Zillow rent index for a two-bedroom apartment is $5,610 a month. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s beyond what Will and Grace could afford. After all, the show establishes Will as a successful corporate lawyer and Grace as a sought-after interior designer, so managing rent that’s over $3,000 a month might not be so hard to picture.

As for what Karen’s wealthy husband shelled out for “the manse?” That’s anyone’s guess.

13. Lucille's Penthouse: 'Arrested Development'

While the most memorable residence depicted on cult classic “Arrested Development” was probably the model home — or even the Seaward — Lucille’s luxurious penthouse where she lives with mommy’s boy Buster is the only one that’s clearly an apartment. Most of the family meetings ended up taking place there, and George Bluth spent most of season three there under house arrest.

How Much It Might Cost

The Bluths live in the upper-class community of Newport Beach, with the penthouse located in the fictional luxury apartment complex the Balboa Towers. However, the OC Weekly pegged the best comp as the Newport Towers, one of the city’s oldest high-rise condo buildings and right near the water.

Redfin lists a two-bedroom condo with 1,200 square feet of space at the Newport Towers as listing for $1.4 million, though one might assume the Bluths sprang for a nicer, larger option. One of the central plot points of the show is the massive success of the Bluth company prior to George Bluth’s arrest, making it plausible that dropping $1.5 million-$2 million on a luxury penthouse is more than believable.

14. Liz Lemon's Apartment: '30 Rock'

While the put-upon Liz might spend the lion’s share of her time wrangling dim-witted comedy writers at 30 Rockefeller Center, the rare occasions when she manages to get home and shotgun a pizza in front of “Designing Women” puts her in a Manhattan apartment with plenty of room.

How Much It Might Cost

The location of Liz’s apartment on the show is 160 Riverside Drive, making her neighbors of Will and Grace. But, even her modest apartment starts to look impossible for a television writer when you consider the location.

As far as rent, Liz would be looking at the same $5,610 a month that Will and Grace’s apartment would hypothetically have gone for, according to the Zillow rent index. Only she would not have a roommate and probably doesn’t earn as much as either of them. And what about when Liz decides she wants to buy her place? Zillow’s home index price for a condo was at $1.38 million as of May 2019 — leaving Liz with a mortgage that would run her over $6,500 a month.

So, unless you can see a TV writer managing to afford to buy her apartment for almost $1.4 million — and then buying the upstairs apartment for about the same, presumably — even Liz’s seemingly modest digs are pretty unrealistic for a Manhattan address.

15. Alicia's Apartment: 'The Good Wife'

Inspired in some part by the Elliot Spitzer scandal, “The Good Wife” depicts the wife of a politician who ends up in jail after it’s revealed that he’s been using expensive escort services. Alicia Florrick ends up returning to the legal profession after years as a housewife, quickly rising in the firm of her old classmate Will Gardner.

The show also has her moving from her suburban house into a swanky apartment in Chicago, where she stays with her two children.

How Much It Might Cost

There aren’t a lot of clues about where Alicia’s apartment is located within the city, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what neighborhood she calls home. However, it is probably safe to say that she’s spending a lot to stay there.The Zillow rent index on a three-bedroom apartment in Chicago is just under $2,000 a month, but it’s safe to say that the large, well-furnished space on the show is listing well above the median.

One three-bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago is listed on Zillow as renting for almost $5,800 a month. And even that might be undershooting reality. The apartment is just over 1,500 square feet, while the Brooklyn set where the show films has 3,000, meaning Alicia might be parting with closer to $10,000 a month for that behemoth. However, as a high-priced attorney at one of Chicago’s biggest firms, it might not be so hard to believe Alicia can afford it.

Click through to read about the 15 most expensive shows to produce.

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Dan Ketchum contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: Unless otherwise noted, estimated rental and real estate prices are sourced from most-recent figures available on Zillow, accessed in mid-July 2019.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Real Cost of These 15 TV Apartments