Sad, Stupid or Genius – You Be the Judge

December 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior

Another story of extreme frugality came across my feed reader. I don’t know whether to laugh, admire, or pity these people.

According to this article in the New York Post, a two-income married couple (one an accountant) recently purchased and is now living in a 175 square foot “apartment” in Manhattan.

It’s bad enough that they paid $150,000 for not much more than a closet. They also have to pay a $700 monthly maintenance fee. Exactly what is being maintained for $700?

Oh, and they have two cats to help stink up the place.

So where do they cook? They don’t. They have no food.

Where do they keep their clothes? In “kitchen” cabinets and at the dry cleaners.

They say living like this allows them to do other things, like eat out and go on vacations.

Excuse me, but they have no choice but to eat out, so that explanation doesn’t impress me.

If I lived in that place, just walking into the hallway would be a vacation.

I’m all for downsizing and frugal living, but they would be better off in a luxury RV parked near public transportation. The home would be larger and provide built-in mobility, for the same money.

This couple has lived there for three months. I want to read a follow-up story a year from now. I’m thinking these guys are angling toward a reality show or book deal.


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10 Responses to “Sad, Stupid or Genius – You Be the Judge”
  1. Kacie says:

    I think they could make a lot better use of that space. A loft bed or Murphy bed, for instance. More shelving. Some curtains to block off the shelving from daily view.

    Not using your kitchen is a bonehead move. And the $700/month maintenance fees are crazy. I do not see their “investment” paying off in the least.

  2. Zyzzyx says:

    I saw that one too. Browsed through the photos, found it slightly interesting, but mostly frightening. $150k here will get a ~1500sf house.

    I hadn’t caught the ‘frugal’ side of their tale. Agreed that it just doesn’t seem quite right.

    Interesting thought of the tv/book deal. Would be interesting to follow up on ‘em. Might just put their names in a Google News alert and let it sit.

  3. No Debt Plan says:

    Did you also see where it said they would pay off the condo in 2 years? They must be making serious money — and obviously they can afford to go out to eat 100% of the time.

    Wonder what their arteries look like…

  4. kitty says:

    Just to put it in perspective. When I grew up in the Soviet Union, a lot of young couples had a single room no larger than this one in communal apartments with shared kitchen and bathroom. Or they lived with their parents who haven’t had that much space either. Some private one room apartments weren’t much bigger than this one and one had to wait for years to get those. Maybe a tiny bit bigger – they had a separate kitchen, but a tiny one. I was born in a much larger room in a communal apartment shared with 4 other families, but this room housed me, my parents and my maternal grandparents. When I was 4 we got a private apartment – a tiny 2 bedroom apartment (maybe about 400-500 sq feet for all of 5 of us. It seemed huge. A friend of mine had a one room-and-a kitchen apartment for her, her, the place doesn’t need to s parents and 2 cats. You can get used to it. Now I have a townhouse to myself and I could use more space. Especially now, that my parents are staying with me, so that I could better care for my sick mother. It’s the matter of what you are used to, and we humans are adaptable and can get used to anything. BTW – if one cleans the litter box and neuters the cats, there is no smell.

    Now with this couple, they obviously can afford twice as much if they can pay it off in 2 years. Like a 300K studio… Also, 150K wouldn’t buy much in Manhattan, but Bronx is cheaper, as is New Jersey where they used to live. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind having such a place in Manhattan in addition to the one I have. Not to live in, but just to stay overnight when needed e.g. after an evening theater performance.

    Whatever – if they are happy…. It’s a lifestyle choice, I guess. One chooses what is important for oneself, and what matter to one person doesn’t matter to another.

  5. TMN says:

    The HOAs seem a bit steep, but aside from that this makes perfect sense. TML, you’ve got to remember that you’re a cranky old guy who would rather sit at home feeling smug about being “frugal” than go out for a meal (at least that’s the persona you put out). This couple isn’t… they’ve decided that they want the entire city to be their home, and this just happens to be their bedroom within it. I suspect you’re going to see a lot more of this trend in coming years as the population centers in the US become more dense.

    It takes a very different perspective to make this type of thing work. It’s kind of like selling your car and relying on public transportation. Nearly all of us have been raised to treat owning a car and a spacious home as a status symbol, or a security blanket. They give us a feeling of safety and self-empowerment. It takes a lot of willpower to give that up, but once you do you find that it was actually a limitation. Looking at it as someone with those assumptions still intact, though, it’s not going to make much sense.

  6. Gail says:

    I think it’s hard for people living in other areas to understand how much young people are willing to sacrifice in terms of living space to call Manhattan their home. What TMN says is true–people opt to live in NYC to be close to work and have convenient access to all the wonderful public attractions the city has to offer. They want to be a part of the metropolis and when they think of home they think first of the city itself. The tiny living spaces they choose to pay outrageous prices to store their stuff and sleep in are simply an admission ticket!

  7. cjbr549 says:

    Hey, I knew a guy that lived in an Chevy El Camino for 2 years, so this place would have been like a mansion for him. I still don’t think his maintenance costs were that high, though.

  8. TMN says:

    I heard a story the other day that reminded me of this post. A friend of a friend was getting a new apartment in Japan, and he was ecstatic because it was huge… 300 square feet. Just for him and his girlfriend. He had previously grown up in a 5 children family in an apartment half that size. It’s all about expectations, culture, and what you value.

  9. JimmyDaGeek says:

    These people are not being fair to their cats. Who cares how they feel!

  10. MasterPo says:

    Yea, but they have a Manhattan address! :-D

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