Money is a tricky business full of social pitfalls and unspoken rules, so imagine my surprise when, shortly after moving to New York, a near-stranger looked me straight in the eye and asked, "So, what do you pay in rent?"
Back then, as a naive NYC real estate newbie, I'm sure my mouth gaped open for a minute before I (truthfully) answered, but in my current experienced (jaded) state, I've often considered asking the very same question because, well, I'm curious. My rent-o-meter reading is in the red (meaning I'm paying more than I should be) so I got to thinking: is it really so rude to ask your neighbors what they pay?
It seems to me that renters, especially when they're considering several apartments or negotiating lease terms, should absolutely be pursuing all the relevant information that they can get their hands on —including the price of other units in the building. Yet, with the exception of Paris (where money is always a popular and accepted topic), New York is the only city I've lived in where anyone would consider asking this "personal" question. Are New Yorkers simply (necessarily) more aggressive when it comes to scoring a good deal or is this just a sign of our current cash-strapped times?
So, c'mon tell me. Is it okay to ask your neighbors what they pay?