Thank goodness the fiscal cliff deal only raises taxes on those making $400,000 (or $450,000 as a household). Because making $235,000 basically means you're just middle class—if you live in Manhattan. A NY Times real estate feature ponders what exactly is middle class in Manhattan, and, as we all know in our hearts, it's depressing. One woman, who rents out her apartment as a performance space, says: "My niece just bought a home in Atlanta for $85,000. I almost spend that on rent and utilities in a year. To them, making $250,000 a year is wealthy. To us, it’s maybe the upper edge of middle-class."
The chief economist in the City Comptroller's office, Frank Braconi, says that real estate is what screws over New Yorkers, especially Manhattanites. The article runs down how back in the day, people could buy $200,000 one-bedrooms apartments in Tribeca, and how these days, "The average Manhattan apartment, at $3,973 a month, costs almost $2,800 more than the average rental nationwide. The average sale price of a home in Manhattan last year was $1.46 million, according to a recent Douglas Elliman report, while the average sale price for a new home in the United States was just under $230,000." Oh, and "Household incomes in Manhattan are about as evenly distributed as they are in Bolivia or Sierra Leone — the wealthiest fifth of Manhattanites make 40 times more than the lowest fifth, according to 2010 census data." Time for a revolucion?
I moved out of Manhattan back in 2008.
Right after I signed a lease outside the city, Lehman Brothers collapsed and suddenly the agent for the landlord of the Manhattan building I was moving from wanted to negotiate the rent increase down to $300 a month.
I said "Thanks, but I'm moving anyway..."
Now that neighborhood, thanks to Deputy Dan Doctoroff, Mayor Bloomberg, a zoning change and an extension of the 7 train, looks nothing like it did when I lived there.
And even though I make more now than I did in 2008 and even though I am now married and we live on two salaries, I STILL couldn't afford to move back.
This is Mayor Bloomberg's real legacy - turning Manhattan and much of the rest of New York into a playground for the 1%.