Iconic NYC pads on TV are too good to be true
We've always felt bad for New York newbies who move here expecting to snag a great apartment like Carrie's on "Sex and the City" or Monica's on "Friends" (on a writer's or cook's salary, no less).
The reality is that New York City apartments are not often as-seen-on-TV. So we decided to take a look at eight TV apartments, find out how much they would cost in the real world and whether our favorite characters would ever be able to afford them.
Mad About You
This 1990s sitcom saw Jamie and Paul Buchman living in a large one-bedroom with a huge living room and kitchen. The exterior was shot at 51 Fifth Ave., on the corner of 12th Street. The real building is a co-op, with three active listings according to StreetEasy -- a $1.295 million one-bedroom, a $2.5 million two-bed and another on for $2.995 million.
According to Tracie Hamersley, a broker with Citi Habitats, "sales prices would have been $190 to $200,000, with rents approximately $1,800 to $2,000. Real estate in general in the city increased in value after Dinkins in the early 90s The West Village really increased in value in the late 90s."
With Paul working as a documentary filmmaker and Jamie in PR, we're thinking this could be plausible.
When George and Weezie moved on up to the East Side from Queens, they settled into "a deluxe apartment in the sky." The two-bedroom apartment was at 185 E. 85th St., a large rental building.
A three-bedroom recently rented for $5,600 and a one-bedroom for $3,100. But in the 1970s, an apartment like that would be "in the $350,000 to $375,000 range, which means it would have rented for around $1,000 to $1,500 per month," said Hamersley.
Not too bad for a man with a successful chain of dry cleaning stores.
The building used for exterior shots of Jerry and Kramer's building is actually located in L.A, but the two (and Newman) were supposed to live at 129 W. 81st St.
Jerry and Kramer both had large one-bedrooms (with enough living room space for Kramer to install a hot tub) in this elevator, non-doorman building. In reality, the building is a small walk-up. The largest apartment is a one-bedroom, and it recently rented for $2,000 a month.
"The rent on this pad in the mid-1990s would have been approximately $1,200-$1,300/month, with the sales price in the $130-$140,000 range," Hamersley estimated.
As a relatively successful stand-up comic, we think this is a moderately believable scenario. But would the unemployed Kramer to be able to afford it? Well, that's another story.
The idea that an often out-of-work chef (Monica) and a waitress (Rachel) could afford a huge two-bedroom in the West Village was so unbelievable, even the writers felt a need to explain it: Monica was subletting from her grandmother.
"Technically ... to assume a rent-controlled lease from a family member (and it must be immediate family), you have to have lived in the apartment with the original lessee for two full years," Hamersley said. But, "there are probably more illegal sublets in the city of both rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments than anyone guesses."
A one-bedroom in the building -- 90 Bedford St., on the corner of Bedford and Grove in the West Village -- recently rented for $3,200 a month, according to StreetEasy.
Sex and the City
So, a small newspaper columnist/shopping addict could afford a huge studio apartment with an enormous walk-in closet? That always seemed like one of the most unrealistic aspects of a whole show built around fantasy.
But, according to Hamersley, it's not: "There are actually apartments like this in existence that I have seen (and rented to clients). Many of these, especially on the Upper East Side, were created when full-floor apartments were carved up. Lots were rent-controlled or at least rent-stabilized," as Carrie's apartment was supposed to be.
Her brownstone apartment was located at 245 E. 73rd St., which doesn't actually exist (the facade was a West Village townhouse), but we found a similar listing -- at 136 E. 73rd St. (with a much smaller closet) for $4,500.
ON AIR NOW
2 Broke Girls
The title of the show says it all. Two waitresses and aspiring cupcake makers are "squatting" in a large one-bedroom (complete with a backyard big enough for their horse) in Williamsburg.
We're pretty sure girls who are "broke" wouldn't be able to afford a two-bedroom in Williamsburg, where the median rent -- according to StreetEasy -- is $3,100 (and anything with outdoor space would likely be more).
"Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant are other less expensive areas conceivable for the conceit of this show," said Hamersley.
Lena Dunham, creator of the hit HBO show, has said the apartment her character, Hannah, up until recently shared with her friend Marnie is on India Street in Greenpoint.
A two-bedroom on India Street is currently on the market for $3,000, which the two might be able to swing, especially since Marnie has a regular job at a gallery.
But the underemployed Hannah and her new roomie Elijah (whose job we don't know anything about) may find themselves struggling.
How I Met Your Mother
The central apartment in this sitcom is Ted Mosby's spacious Upper West Side two-bedroom (which he's shared with almost everyone). It's also directly above the McLaren's, a relaxed pub filled with beautiful people -- so it's the stuff that New York City dreams are made of.
The apartment is meant to be on 75th and Amsterdam on the Upper West Side, where the median rent for a two-bedroom is $4,825, according to StreetEasy. Hope Columbia pays architect/professor Mosby well.