Monday, July 16, 2007

The Unaffordable City

Whenever I'm in New York, I'm always amazed at the sacrifices people are willing to make to live there. An hour-long commute is nothing. Spending two or three thousand dollars a year to take the train from the suburbs to downtown and back every day is just the price of living near The City. The overcrowding, the smells (both sweet and fetid), the constant activity -- all very exciting for a couple of days, but it leaves me longing for my nice, quiet suburban life here.

While in New York over this weekend, I read an article about a piece of Manhattan real estate going for $225,000. That sounds like a lot where you live, but it's a bargain in that town -- if you were getting a house for that kind of money, or even an apartment.

But you're not.

For your $225,000, you're buying a parking space. It's not in some exclusive residential neighborhood, or underneath Trump Tower. It's in the garage under your average apartment building. And once you've convinced your banker to give you a parking space mortgage at a reasonable rate, and made your down payment, you still haven't fulfilled your contractual obligations, because you still have to pay a monthly fee for maintenance.

Yes, just like a condo, you have to pay for the upkeep of your parking space. I suppose that means that when the lines start to fade, they get repainted, and if you drip some oil from your engine, someone wipes it off the concrete.

Some people who buy these spaces don't even have cars to put in them. They buy them as investments, knowing that there isn't going to be a parking space glut anytime soon, so the value of that chunk of garage is going to go up.

Personally, I'm holding out for a really good deal on an elevator. I figure I'll buy high and sell low.