You begin shopping for your future the moment you become an adult in New York City. Rich and well-furnished lives are aggressively paraded about. Parlor windows reveal Noguchi lamps the size of small horses, couples sit for brunch, families haul exploding bags of farmers’-market produce back to their lairs. People are furiously refreshing Resy to pay $27 for spaghetti pomodoro (!) and going, constantly, to Mexico City.
Sure, it’s always been ludicrously expensive, and the “what you could get for the same price of this Chelsea studio in Ohio” game is our little way of torturing ourselves. New York is the most expensive city in the world, according to one recent report. Half the households that live here simply cannot afford to, according to another, which says you have to make $100,000 just to reasonably get by — to afford food and transportation to work. A one-pound container of strawberries at Eli’s costs $30.
We decided to put a price tag on the dream lives of a wide range of New Yorkers, all 30 and under and childless. We spoke to dozens of people but narrowed it down to a handful, each reasonably en route to the upper-middle- (and, in two instances, just plain upper-) class life they picture in their heads. We were surprised by how many people fantasize about a life with a partner and kids in brownstone Brooklyn — we expected more to plan lives as single artists or to build households of friends and throuples. We expected a few more to actually want to live in Manhattan. Instead, we heard a craving for high-end domesticity; so many people told us they wanted to be married with “between one and two kids,” a shocking number said they wanted three or more, and nearly everyone said they wanted to own their homes.