Monday, June 02, 2008

Affording Their 'City'

With the buzz of its recent $55.7 opening weekend, my own reaction to the movie, and recent ponderings regarding the myths of a "Sex and the City" lifestyle, I couldn't help but wonder ... how many young women are broken by the realities of New York City when their only motivation was a Carrie Bradshaw fantasy? Being motivated to move here based solely on the HBO series and its blockbuster movie follow-up can be dangerous for 20-somethings with false expectations of the life they will find here.

Even though I'll admit that the TV show did "add kindling to my blazing New York City fire when I was a college student living in North Carolina," I knew I wanted to live in New York long before the TV show first aired. Foremost motivated by my own personal goals, I made it paramount during my move that I expect nothing. I applied random "Sex and the City" cliches in moment-to-moment recaps of my relationships with family, friends and the streets of Manhattan, but never associated them directly with my lifestyle. One can jeopardize their entire New Yorker experience by doing that.

The bottom line(s), according to Lizzy Nielsen in a recent amNY article "Affording Their 'City'":

The women of "Sex and the City" lived incredibly extravagant lifestyles and inspired a gaggle of young women to move to New York City. Carrie was a freelance writer, Miranda an attorney, Charlotte an art gallery manager and Samantha a public relations maven. They always seemed to have enough cash for expensive dresses and shoes, $20 martinis and posh apartments.

The question is: Could they really pay their bills?

Miranda Hobbes was probably the character with the most realistic life on the show. Partners at top law firms, according to Web sites such as and, can earn upwards of a million dollars a year. Miranda wasn't a big shopper, but she did own her own one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side.

An UWS apartment similar to hers sells for about $775,000, according to A 15-year mortgage would require monthly payments of roughly $7,015.97. A mortgage should be about 30 percent of your total salary, according to CNN Money guru Suze Orman.

So it's entirely feasible that Miranda could afford where she lived, as well as the occasional overpriced martini.

The amount of free time she appeared to have, though? Unlikely for a partner at a corporate law firm.

Charlotte York owned a Park Avenue apartment. A similar listing on for a two-bedroom on Park Avenue and 79th Street goes for $1.1 million. While a gallery manager doesn't make a seven-figure salary, according to her cast bio, Charlotte was born into a rich family, so depending on the kind of loot she was getting from mom and dad, she could afford whatever she wanted.

Samantha Jones owned her own PR firm, and she had a her fair share of A-list clients. Someone of her age and stature could realistically pull off her lifestyle.

An apartment similar to hers in the Meatpacking District runs about $760,000, according to CitiHabitats. A 15-year mortgage payment would be about $8,000 a month. With a salary probably north of seven figures, she could easily afford her place.

As for her appetite for expensive clothing, it's likely she got some swag from clients, but it's also possible that she satisfied her cravings on her own.

Carrie Bradshaw. Even the best-paid freelance writers can't afford the kind of wardrobe Carrie wore on a daily basis. Generally a freelance writer makes about $2 a word when writing for magazines, and newspapers pay much less. But while Carrie was a woman with some fame, until she got her book deal, all of her income came from her column in the fictitious New York Star. At the most, she might have earned $100,000 a year.

She claimed to have a closet that contained $40,000 worth of shoes, with names like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, which go for $550-$700 a pair. That works out to about 57 pairs of high-end footwear. Even if she'd bought them over five years, that'd be about one pair a month.

In addition to her shoe obsession, Carrie also lived on the Upper East Side in a rent-stabilized, one-bedroom apartment. A place similar to what Carrie's was on the show went for $1,299 a month in 1999, according to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board. With rent and shoes, she's already spending $2,000 a month. Not much left over for $15 Cosmopolitans, packs of Marlboro Lights, Prada bags or expensive dinners.

Read More:
Are TV Characters' Salaries Realistic?


JanelleGrace said...

I always wanted to live in New York- I remember talking about it with my best friend in fifth grade.

But I always loved the not-so-glamorous New York. I was never a fan of Sex & The City. I would watch it with my sister every now and then but that was it.


You know what....I always thought the same thing, specifically with Carrie...Everyone but Carrie seemed as though they could afford that type lifestyle! 100k you think?? She barely could afford to own at one point...Who knows? I remember an episode when she had all of like maybe 2k saved in the bank and it made me wonder who much money she made. : When she f*ucked Aiden over and he wanted to either evict her or make her pay up (classic!) : I was like, " That's all the money you have saved? "

We aren't ballers, but we have way more than 2k saved! HA HA!

I was thinking more like 60-70k annual salary, w/ major freebies!

I will always believe that women have it easier in NYC ;) Free drinks in clubs; you know what I mean...(HA)

We all know ...[or at least I do know for a fact] that 60k-ish plus a year can be decent, but could be way better! It does make you wonder did she afford all of that stuff....something to make you go hmmmm..At the end of the day, no matter how expensive NYC is...its so worth it!