We all know that the way people live on TV is greatly exaggerated. After all, the cameras showing the goings on in most studio apartments would be rather bland. But the folks at Joybird decided to dive in a little bit deeper to see which TV characters could actually afford their lifestyles, and they determined that of the 30 characters analyzed, 60 percent could not afford their digs. Let's just say things are a bit more affordable in Hawkins, Indiana than on the Upper East Side.
For housing cost, Joybird used Zillow to find comparable houses/apartments to the TV location in each city to determine monthly rent or mortgage. For characters that owned their home, the mortgage payment is based on a 20 percent deposit and a 3.92 percent interest rate over 30 years. To determine each character's monthly spending, Joybird used numbeo.com to see the cost of living guide for each major city these shows were based in, and did their fair share of watching reruns. This determined how much each character would spend monthly on things like food, drink, transportation, clothing, utilities, and sport and leisure. To see if each character could afford their lifestyle, Joybird researched each character's average annual salary for their job paid in their city.
Sex and the City
Everyone has beef with "Sex and the City" for being unrealistic, but let's face it: Would most people want to watch a show about the real life of an urban journalist? Swiping free cheese cubes while covering an event isn't so glamorous. That's why Carrie's life is a whole lot more exciting. Unfortunately, it was also financially a hot mess. Didn't the woman have like $25,000 worth of shoes? As a columnist, Carrie probably made about $1,614 per month (if they managed to pay her on time!). Her monthly rent now would be about $3,600 per month for an Upper East Side brownstone, though anyone who has binge watched reruns knows she paid about $800 per month for that rent-controlled spread. But add on her monthly living costs (no public transportation, and endless stream of Manolo Blahniks, and not a single meal at home) it looks like Carrie would end up $14,270 in the hole. In later seasons, however, she managed to make some money, so here's to hoping that Carrie got out of debt.
Life is certainly a bit more affordable in Hawkins, Indiana… but that doesn't mean it's easy. Joyce Byers is a struggling single mom who works in retail, which means she brings in about $1,358 per month. But with a rent that's only $549 and $559 in living expenses, she's left with $250 in leftover money. This means technically, she's better off than Carrie Bradshaw.
Our favorite mom-slash-BFF should probably cut down on the coffee breaks. According to Joybird, Lorelai Gilmore would be over $8,500 in the red each month, thanks to the high real estate costs in Stars Hollow. How she and Sookie managed to buy the Dragonfly, we'll never really know.
The cast of "Friends" is a bit of a mixed bag. Now, before you say "there's no way Monica could afford that gigantic apartment!" keep in mind that the apartment had belonged to her grandmother, which might be the only way to acquire cheap real estate in Manhattan these days. As a chef, Monica would have made about $3,872 per month. Despite the show's '90s origins, her pad would now go for $3,250. Rachel, who was a waitress in season one, certainly wouldn't be able to afford that. Chandler would have made $6,918. The stats here list his job as an "IT Procurement Manager," which is pretty enlightening seeing as we went most of the series without knowing what he actually did for a living. It looks like only Chandler and Ross would be able to afford their lifestyles on those salaries in New York. You go, Ms. Chanandler Bong.
Check out some additional findings below: