How I Paid $1900 a Month for a Concrete Box in the Sky

In 2010, I was living in Manhattan.

New York City is famous for being an expensive place to live, with good reason.

After switching apartments twice, I finally found a place in Harlem that had better rent than my previous two digs. The apartment was in a sketchy neighborhood, but had a gorgeous view of lower Manhattan.

I paid $1900 a month for a concrete box in the sky

You can probably guess from the title what this apartment cost me:

$1900 a month.

Do you know how much you need to save over your lifetime to fund a nineteen hundred dollar a month habit? The reasoning takes a bit of work, but the calculation is very simple. You multiply your total annual expense by 25.

When you do, the answer you get is this:

$570,000.

That is an incredible amount of money to spend. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have half a million plus lying around to fund my housing expenses. How many of us will ever earn that amount in our lifetimes, let alone save it?

Yet, when it is broken down into that monthly payment, somehow our brains turn off.

We think, “I can pay that amount every month” and we don’t think about the total cost of that payment over our lifetimes.

We don’t think about the drag and friction it creates for our lifestyle design.

We don’t consider how it ruins our future agility.

We don’t comprehend how it pushes our personal freedom goals further and further down the road.

For the vast majority of people, housing’s just one more way you don’t invest in yourself and invest in junk instead.

How Much Roof Do You Really Need Over Your Head?

At the end of the day, I had to live somewhere in New York City. So do millions of people. Your life takes you in certain directions. Some of your costs go up as a result.

In New York City, and Manhattan especially, it’s housing. You can’t avoid spending up the rear for it. But you can compensate for this in other ways, by eating out less or not keeping a car.

But most of us don’t.

What we fail to do is control lifestyle creep across all areas of our lives.

When one area of our costs go up, like housing, we don’t meter down our entertainment or utility expenses. Instead, we’re more likely to overcomplicate things by spending more in these other areas to “keep up” with our new lifestyles.

Think about how insane that is for a moment.

The bottom line is this: I paid $1900 a month for a concrete box in the sky. I’m not proud of it.

But how much are you paying for your concrete box? Or your wooden box in the suburbs? Or your brick box in the city?

Is it worth it?

Image by striatic.

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