If anyone knows how Carrie from Sex and the City could afford her gigantic New York one bedroom apartment on a writer’s salary, please, let me know. Or Monica’s apartment on Friends? Quirky and gorgeous, but probably not affordable by any chef who doesn’t work at a place with a few Michelin stars (even allowing for the plot device that she’s illegally subletting from her dead grandma).
Of course, these examples, while classic, are dated. After all, Sex and the City (the TV show) and Friends both celebrated their series finales in 2004 (almost ten years ago!), before the housing bubble burst and made the real estate market go all wonky. So maybe, just maybe, their unrealistic apartments could be excused.
Let’s turn to some more recent examples, then, shall we? How do they rate on the realism scale?
How I Met Your Mother – 88th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, New York
Almost everyone (except Barney—please) in the group of friends on CBS’ How I Met Your Mother has lived in this conveniently-located apartment. And I don’t blame them for not wanting to give it up to strangers. Exposed brick, roof access, a bar downstairs: this place has just about everything young professionals need. While in the later seasons, Ted, Robin, Lily, and Marshall can be considered professionals, in the beginning, Ted struggles with his architecture career and Marshall hasn’t graduated from law school yet, which makes the $5000 per month rent (the size of the living space, even with smaller bedrooms, pushes this to the higher end) perhaps a bit too steep. Unless the paycheck from Lily’s preschool teaching gig has an extra comma I’m unaware of.
30 Rock – 160 Riverside Drive, New York
Who doesn’t love the awkward Liz Lemon from NBC’s 30 Rock? And even better, her cozy apartment is a realistic one for someone with her job title—which, considering the show is loosely based on her real life, is not all that surprising. One bedroom apartments around this area go for about $2000 per month, within range of the head writer of a comedy show on a major network.
Flight of the Conchords – 28 Henry Street, New York
New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk-parody duo, Bret and Jemaine, during their two-season HBO show Flight of the Conchords, bunkered in a cramped apartment, with only one cup and one bedroom to share between the two of them and a landlord all too willing to evict his tenants for not paying their rent in American dollars. Sounds pretty realistic to me, considering they’re in a band (except for Bret’s short-lived gig as a human billboard) and only have one, albeit rabid, fan.
However, picking an apartment requires considering a number of factors, including size, cost of living in the area, quality of the apartment, neighborhood, and of course price. It’s the combination of these factors that make so many TV apartments seem unrealistic. Of course gorgeous apartments like Carrie’s and Monica’s exist, but they could not be rented by the people who supposedly live there in the shows.
Likewise, it’s important to be realistic when pricing your apartments, whether they go for $6000 a month or $600, and the best way to do so is through comparing your pricing to similar offerings in your area. VaultWare Apartment Marketing, one of MRI Software’s property management solutions, offers MarketComps, a solution to just this problem. MarketComps enables you to easily find competitors in your area, and see what their rent and offerings consist of. You can also set up alerts that will notify you when rents change, so that your property’s rents can always be optimal without resorting to plot devices.