“Young New Yorkers Make a Brand New Start of It, on the Cheap”

“Adam Leibsohn, a 27-year-old communications strategist who makes roughly $60,000 a year and pays $1,650 a month for his own apartment in the East Village, says the trick to squeaking by in the city is to swear off impulse purchases and credit cards. He cooks for himself, pirates wireless Internet access and buys electronics from Craigslist or eBay. If he wants new clothes, he unloads old ones first at the Salvation Army, keeping the receipt for his taxes. ‘It’s kind of a spartan lifestyle,’ he says. ‘I eat a lot of street meat for lunch.’

Let’s unpack this for a minute, Adam Leibsohn.

You make roughly twice as much as I have ever made.

You don’t actually need to have your own apartment in the East Village: you could have your own place in a perfectly respectable Brooklyn neighborhood for about $1200 a month, or you could have a decent-sized room in the same kind of area for little more than $700.

Cooking for yourself, last time I checked, was not a sign of poverty.

The fact that you pirate wireless (which is an indulgence, not a need, to begin with) means that you must have a computer with a wireless card.

That you buy electronics on eBay and Craigslist means that you have the disposable income to buy electronics in the first place, regardless of whether or not you’re getting a good deal on them.

That you have enough dispensable clothing that getting rid of it provides you enough money, from tax deduction, to buy new clothing tells me that you probably have more clothing than you ever needed in the first place.

And finally, eating “street meat” isn’t roughing it. I would imagine that many New Yorkers think that buying any kind of prepared food at retail is an unthinkable luxury.

Verdict: Yes, New York is ridiculously expensive. No, I don’t think that on a $60k salary with your own apartment in a trendy part of Manhattan you have any right to complain. I don’t even think I have any right to complain. You know who has a right to bitch? People raising families on minimum wage. The rest of us are left to decide whether to feel embarrassed that people much wealthier than us are referred to as “scraping by” in The New York Times or pissed off that the same publication isn’t at all interested in poverty that is as real and literal in their own city as it is around the world.