min wage apartment

Should min-wage be enough to finance lifestyle choices?

by / 0 Comments / 34 View / April 30, 2015

Is a 2-bedroom apartment an essential entitlement for someone making minimum wage, or is it a luxury? Doesn’t sound like much, but you know who can afford to live in a 2-bedroom apartment? Me. And my family of 4. With our combined 6-figure income.

Because we chose to live in NYC, what we had paid for our 600sf 2-bedroom is more than the national median sales price for a home, and could easily have bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom rise-ranch in the suburbs. Or enough for a walk-in closet in Manhattan, maybe a parking space. Or 1/4 of a parking space in a certain location. [1]

But it’s a choice that we made, and a choice we live with. My YUP (young urban professional) friends living in Midtown complain about having to split with a roommate $4000 a month rent bill. But since they NEED to live within a block of a Starbucks and Whole Foods, that’s their choice.

Conversely, $500 a month is more than the median rent for at least 10 cities. [2]

But what if you want to live in a happenin’ city, rather than boring Wichita, Kansas? Well that’s a lifestyle choice, isn’t it?

No, making minimum wage isn’t ideal, and yes, I know what it’s like. My wife had put herself through community college working at Target for minimum wage, at time and a half with overnight shift differential. She had a sparsely furnished 300sf studio in a small town. No cable, just a stack of VHS tapes, and she read books in her free time. Her meals were PB&J sandwiches, spaghetti with sauce, or rice and canned vegetables flavored with leftover Ramen soup.

It was enough to live on, and she was happy. No, she would not have been able to support children on that income, but once again, that is a lifestyle choice (or a consequence of our action), isn’t it?

Should we blame others for the choices we make?
Should we demand from others to give us the luxuries we want?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/realestate/million-dollar-parking-spot.html?_r=0

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/cheapest-cities-in-the-us-2014-3

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