Not so long ago, that sentence, in a New York Observer story about a 22-year-old buying a quarter-million dollar Manhattan apartment, would have been delivered with a knowing wink. Or it would have been used as a deadpan "let them hang themselves with their own words" quote, to indicate just how out of touch with economic reality the speaker was. It would have been written with awareness. Now, though—with the Observer fully in thrall to its wealthy real estate scion owner— that sentence is meant to be taken literally. Just a normal 20-something, buying a quarter-million dollar Manhattan apartment, as all normal 20-somethings can.
Before the purchase, I was shelling out over $2,000 a month for a four flight walk-up, a glorified attic in the not-yet-chic part of Alphabet City. The building was home exclusively to 20-somethings who assumed this is how we should be living. For us, that’s what Manhattan housing is: terrible walk-up apartments in trendy neighborhoods or luxury apartments with three or more roommates.
"For us"— for normal 20-somethings, average ones, the absolute median of all 22-year-olds, unexceptional in all ways—"that's what Manhattan housing is." It's a $2,100 per month apartment rental, at age 22. But:
After calculating my purchase price based on a monthly payment of $2,000, I realized a small purchase was feasible and a sound investment. With some $50,000 in the bank—a nest egg from my family augmented by savings that I’d stashed away by working in retail since the age of 14—I settled on a budget of approximately $250,000 and began searching listings and seeking real estate agencies and brokers.
(Spoiler: she found one.)
The word that best sums up this little tale: "Normal." A normal story of a normal 22-year-old, in this big city of ours, Manhattan, "where dreams are made of," as they say in the song. All of you 22-year-olds should be able to relate to this apartment-purchasing experience, lest you be considered abnormal.
We sincerely congratulate Polly Mosendz on her success, even as we weep over the decline of the newspaper that edited and published her story.