Soaring rents make New York unaffordable, even for your favorite TV characters

Key Points
  • Rents and real estate in the Big Apple are soaring, reinforcing the lament of the city's renters
  • Roomi crunched some data and found that some of TV's most cosmopolitan characters couldn't afford to live in the city at these prices
  • 'Will' would have to live without Grace, Jack and Karen, Roomi noted.
New York City
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Carrie Bradshaw might want to rethink whether she can afford that Cosmo.

Manhattan real estate prices have been notoriously frothy, but a clutch of recent data reinforced the lament of the city's renters, where the market is equally as expensive. The median price of a one-bedroom rental apartment rose by 1.2 percent in May, according to real estate firm MNS's latest monthly report, with the average price jumping by 0.55 percent to nearly $3950.

This week brought more bracing news for the Big Apple's would-be apartment hunters. According to Apartment List data, New York rents have jumped by 0.4 percent in June alone, and are up by more than a percent year over year. That information dovetailed with findings by Roomi, an apartment hunting app, which recently indulged in a useful thought experiment: How would some of television's most recognizable fictional faces fare in NYC's overheated rental market?

For fans of popular TV staples like "Sex and the City," "Girls" and "Friends", Roomi's answers may come as something of a surprise. Their favorite characters live seemingly idyllic lives, brunching with abandon, frequenting the most popular bars and clubs, and wearing the trendiest clothes.

Yet, when Roomi crunched the numbers, comparing salary information available on Glassdoor against current real estate data, it found that most of TV's beloved characters couldn't afford to live in the city in which these shows are set.

Below are Roomi's findings, which employed current salary information from Glassdoor and its own rental data to extrapolate its conclusions. To be certain, a few of Roomi's comparisons are less than exact: Some of the TV characters it lists were at the pinnacle of their respective careers, and presumably made more than the prevailing wage in their respective professions.

However, the data do give a glimpse of how hard it's become for New Yorkers at a certain salary level to find affordable housing in a city where median rent prices are far above comparable U.S cities.

'Friends' in need

The cast of the hit NBC series 'Friends,' on the Warner Bros lot Sept. 12, 2003 in Burbank, CA.
David Hume Kennerly | Contributor

Of the six friends who starred in the hit NBC sitcom, Roomi noted only two could actually afford to reside in the Greenwich Village apartment. That information was based on comparable New York salaries and the prevailing rent in the West Village, where the average rent per room exceeds $1700 a month. Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, eventually became a personal buyer at Ralph Lauren, which pays just shy of $75,000. Meanwhile, Chandler Bing's (played by Matthew Perry) $91,000 salary as an IT manager would also allow him to afford the rent.

Lots of 'Sex', but no affordable place to live

On the set of the hit HBO series 'Sex and the City' July 29, 2003.
Mark Mainz | Getty Images

The four ladies who made HBO's smash hit "Sex and the City" a household name were glamorous professionals with active dating lives. That said, only lawyer Miranda Hobbs and art dealer Charlotte York could actually afford to live in their New York neighborhoods nowadays, according to Roomi's data. Fashion-forward writer Carrie Bradshaw and public relations exec Samantha Jones would likely be priced out of their Upper East Side digs.

Broke 'Girls'

Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Lena Dunham, and Zosia Mamet in "Girls" on HBO.
Danielle Levitt | HBO

Roomi's data showed that not a single 'Girl' on HBO's popular comedy could afford the nearly $1700 per month required to rent a room in lower Manhattan—or the $1300 price of admission for Greenpoint, one of Brooklyn's most popular neighborhoods. Salaries for characters played by Lena Dunham and Alison Williams don't crack $50,000 per year, based on Glassdoor figures—putting New York's rent beyond their reach.

Most of these folks don't have to live with 'Mother'

Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother."
Richard Cartwright | Getty Images

There's good news for the group of pals on CBS's "How I Met Your Mother." With the exception of Kindergarden teacher Lilly Aldrin, the remaining ensemble would cover their monthly rent, based on the salaries for their profession and Roomi rental data. Two of the characters resided on the Upper West Side, where rent per room tops $1400, while two others lived in Brooklyn's Park Slope, which go for a relatively modest $1227 per month per room.

Seinfeld, without a home

Carin Baer | NBCU

Not a single character on NBC's classic 'show about nothing' would make enough to live on the Upper West Side, according to Roomi. Not even the perpetual job-switcher George Costanza, who lived in the relatively more reasonably priced area of Sunnyside, Queens, could afford his place.

'Will', but without Grace, Karen or Jack

Will & Grace
Chris Haston | NBCU

Of the four friends depicted groundbreaking NBC sitcom, only title character Will Truman could theoretically afford the price of his Upper West Side digs, Roomi noted. However, Truman's best friends, interior designer Grace Adler, personal assistant Karen Walker and sales clerk Jack McFarland, would all find themselves on the outs of New York's torrid rental market.

Disclosure: NBC is owned by Comcast, the parent company of CNBC.com.