Thursday, November 02, 2006

Middle Class Series

How Difficult Is It For Middle Class People To Live In NYC?
By Ashley Wells

Aleeza Lew is an Asian-American college student with long dark brown hair, majoring in English, originally from Washington D.C., who said she does not have major financial difficulties living in the city because she is supported by her family.

“But I am the exception, I could not afford to live here in the city unless I made in excess of $50,000 and would have to live with two roommates, “he said. “A two bedroom apartment goes for $3,600 per month. I too have to be aware of my spending. I have learned to bargain shop for my clothes and I watch a lot of DVDs.”

Lew explained how she noticed many middle class people worked in the city and lived elsewhere to acquire more. Because of the cost of New York City escalating, she plans to move back to Washington and build her career before moving back to New York.

Lew does not plan to have children, therefore living in a small apartment and only supporting herself will benefit her. She fears finding the right job and making enough to live in the city will be a challenge ahead of her, and she feels she would have to work more than one job to support herself in New York City.

Living in New York City is very difficult for the middle class. The common and accepted definition of the middle class, which is defined as those who have some degree of economic independence, but not a great deal of social influence or power. Their annual median income, nationally, ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, according to Wikipedia. In addition, recent economic trends are beginning to show that many people in the statistical American middle class can no longer afford a big city life style.

On the Upper East Side of New York City, Katie Denton, who stands about 5 feet 6 inches, with light blonde hair and a big smile, and like Lew is also a college student, described the struggle of coming from a working class family and living in New York City for school. “I am convinced there are the very rich people and then there are poor people who are barely making it,” Denton said.

Denton describes her interaction with the wealthy in the city with amusement. She baby-sits for a wealthy family and sees how they can afford to spend $100 for a simple baby outfit, and have every convenience in their homes that the middle class and the poor could only dream about. In Connecticut, Denton’s family, who are hard working and have another child to support, can only provide her with so much financially.

Like Lew, Denton has cut out some of her extracurricular activities in the city. “I have always loved Broadway plays but I can not go as often as I would like living here,” Denton said. “I purchase my food rather than always eat-out. We watch a lot of DVD's. No more $15 movies and $15 popcorn with a soda. You know?” she said, laughing.

Rush tickets have become the way to see Broadway plays for Denton and friends for a discount price. After graduation she plans to move back home due to the financial strain, but she would like to move back to New York City once she has a fine paying career in the field of directing films.

Denton said she is concerned that the wealthy in New York City are purposely trying to make Manhattan unaffordable for the middle class. She said she knows the sacrifice of living in the city that never sleeps but she feels it caters to her future goals, and that the city is filled with great excitement, despite its high cost of living.

Behind the doors of a shoe repair store stands Alex, an older man who owns Yuzik store on the Upper East Side, who is originally from the Soviet Union, but has lived in Queens for 28 years and commutes to Manhattan each day to work. He declined to give his last name. Alex, with gray hair and circular glasses, stood in his store recently wearing a dark blue button down shirt with his working coat over it. With a heavy Russian accent, Alex said, “Manhattan is nice but too expensive for me and my family, I have to think of family first.”

However, he said, “New York is worth the sacrifice because it offers a large variety I have to work multiple jobs just to maintain a livable lifestyle.” Even though Alex did not attend college he owns his own business, which brings him an annual income that he considers makes him a part of the city’s middle class. Alex said he feels successful working in Manhattan because, “If I can make it here I can make it anywhere.”

New York City obviously is a great city with magnetic attractions for all, but for the average middle class person, it's too expensive to live but an exciting place to work, people say. The best solution appears to be offered by Lew, "work in the city but live in the suburbs."

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