Here’s What Carrie Bradshaw’s Lifestyle Would Cost In 2016

carrie

Ah, Carrie Bradshaw. Sex and the City’s protagonist, portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker, is simultaneously one of the most beloved and most reviled characters of all time. We adore Carrie for her clothes, her hair, and her witty humor. We hate her for ruining New York City for us and glorifying the lifestyle that so many writers know is not glamorous at all. Where is the episode where Carrie sends 50 pitches in a day and doesn’t hear back? (Oh, wait, she barely knows how to use email.)

At any rate, we can’t really fault Carrie (or SATC in general for that matter) for every unrealistic expectation she might have put in our heads. In the show’s defense, the first episode of Season 1 premiered in 1998 — eighteen years ago. Life was quite different back then. So, with that, we decided to take a look at what Carrie’s lifestyle would cost to maintain in 2016. Warning: the numbers are pretty terrifying.

Annual Income: $38,000

To start, let’s examine Carrie’s income. Carrie worked as a columnist for The New York Star, and her column was, of course, called “Sex and the City.” For all intents and purposes, let’s label Carrie’s career as being part of the journalism industry. In 2016, the median salary for journalists is $38,000 a year. Monthly (without even considering taxes and other withholdings) that is $3,166 a month. This is already not looking good.

Now let’s break down Carrie’s regular monthly expenses:

Rent: Approx. $3,000 

While the actual filming location of Carrie’s apartment is located in the West Village on Perry Street, the fictionalized location was the Upper East Side. So let’s go with that.

A one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side in Manhattan is approximately $3,000 a month. We’re already completely over budget and we haven’t even gotten to the shoes yet. In the show, Carrie’s apartment is “rent controlled” (LOL) and costs only $750 a month.

Utilities: Approx. $150 

According to the latest report from Numbeo, the average utility costs per month are $126.95. We’re bumping this to $150 because Carrie is most likely on the higher end of the spectrum. Considering that she always seems to be writing into the nighttime hours, she’s most likely using more resources than the average community member.

Cable/Internet: Approx. $200 

Okay, so 1998 Carrie Bradshaw didn’t have internet, but she had it by the end of the series. Plus, as a writer in 2016, you need to have an Internet connection. A solid cable and internet company would run Carrie about $200 each month.

Cigarettes: Approx. $364

Carrie Bradshaw’s cigarette addiction would be a huge drainage to her bank account each month. As of today, a pack of cigarettes averages $13 in New York City. If Carrie is smoking a pack a day, that’s $91 a week, or $364 a month. Yikes.

All those taxis: Approx. $840

We rarely (if ever) see Carrie on the subway. The girl takes cabs literally everywhere. If it were 2016, she might Uber, but again, she didn’t know how email worked, so….

Let’s say that Carrie travels approximately 10 miles per day in a taxi. That’s $30 a day, or $210  a week, which translates to $840 a month.

So many cosmos: Approx. $360 

Carrie Bradshaw sure loves her cocktails! If you were to make a video that runs on a loop of all the times Carrie was drinking a cosmo, it would probably take an entire day to watch. The average cocktail in New York City is $15, so if Carrie has three cosmos on Friday and another three on Saturday — assuming she’s the one paying for them — that would be $90 per weekend, or $360 each month. (And, let’s be honest, she probably drinks on the weekdays too.)

Weekend brunches: Approx. $240

We’re not sure exactly what Carrie eats for meals that aren’t brunch, since that’s the only thing we ever see. That said, her weekend brunches with Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda are pretty routine. Their favorite restaurant looks relatively casual, so we can probably assume that she spends an average of $30 on each brunch. If she eats brunch twice per weekend, that would be $240 a month.

Okay. The shoes: Approx. $1,800

At one point in the series, Carrie admits that she’s spent $40,000 on shoes (and has “nowhere to live.”) Putting aside the fact that that’s absolutely mind-blowing, we can assume that she purchases new shoes a few times per month. (She is ALWAYS shoe-shopping.) If she buys new shoes three times per month at approximately $600 per shoe, that’s an extra $1,800 per month (more than half her rent.)

TOTAL SPENDING PER MONTH: $6,954

One thing is clear. If Carrie Bradshaw was existing in today’s world, she’d need a major lifestyle adjustment, or she’d go bankrupt in a heartbeat. We understand if she can’t give up her cosmos, so we’d recommend quitting her smoking habit A.S.A.P., and maybe start shopping at TJ Maxx.

De is a New Yorker turned Bostonian and a lover of all things theatrical. In addition to writing, she is an actress/singer/dancer/teacher and owner of the fluffiest cat imaginable. She is on Twitter.

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  • nicolacash

    Is this going by the beginning of the series or by the end of the series? Because if it’s by the end of the series (which it probably is if you’re counting in internet), then you should add in her income as a Vogue freelance writer, her income as a published author (remember that $25,000 book advance from her book in France), and also turn her rent into a probably lower mortgage payment since she bought her apartment after the Aidan breakup. Just needed to throw that in haha

    • Lisa1597

      ikr? If they’re really going to do this they might as well do it all the way.

      • Schane Flowers

        I think it’s throughout the series save for the end of it. The fact that she doesn’t save is a big concern during the whole apartment episode in comparison to her friends. When you think about it, she probably has the least reliable income per month (Sam and Miranda have full time established jobs and Charolette is wealthy by birth) yet spends so frivolously that she only had her rent money during the Aiden/apartment issue. Meaning that if an emergency happened she wouldn’t be prepared at all.
        If you count Vogue, her salary would average from 45,000 to 58,000 a year, but that’s at max about $3,000-4,500 a month for a freelance job. A job that can vary based on how long each article she writes is. Remember freelancers get paid per word most of the time, even if she had premium rates it’s 4-5$ per word.
        Now the book advance is a good point, but it’s an advance. Meaning that yes she gets $25,000 immediately to use, but she won’t get any more royalties until the book sells more than $25,000 dollars. While we know in the show Carrie has a wide international fanbase, that’s under the assumption that her book becomes so rapidly successful that she earns royalties right off the bat. The book deal is a random encounter that Carrie didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the series and had that not happen, she wouldn’t have earned the advance to begin with.
        If you count the success of her career at the later part of the series with five books and a job at Vogue then yes, Carrie earn enough to live lavishly in NYC. But until that point, her spending and lifestyle are impossible and debt building.

    • bella116

      @nicolacash:disqus YES! Exactly. You literally wroe everything I was about to! lol. #carrielover #satclover

  • Bridget

    Fair enough about all the overspending (and of course that $750 studio apartment would never happen in reality), but the utilities and cable/internet seem like a huge overestimation. My average utilities bill is under $45, and high speed internet by itself can cost less than $50. Even a TWC plan with way too many channels plus their fastest internet is about $130.

    • Court E. Thompson

      Actually average rent in NYC in 1993 was $564, so even if she moved into her place in 1998 when the show started (though she was certainly very settled in at that point), a $750 rent is reasonable and quite believable.

      • nycnative

        Also, the air quotes and “LOL” after referencing Carrie’s rent-controlled apt is a weird aside. I moved into a rent-controlled apartment I found on Craigslist in 2011 and continue to pay under market. Those apartments are definitely still around in NYC – it’s not like “rent control” is a mythical fairy no one’s ever seen. And if Carrie moved into her place in the mid-90s $750 actually seems about like what she might have been paying come 2002 or whatever. It seems absurdly low now but, duh, the city was different then.

        • sjl

          A rent-controlled apartment is one that has been occupied by the same family since 1971, so a Craigslist apartment you found in 2011 cannot be rent-controlled. And yes, a rent-controled apartment is pretty much a mythical fairy. Your apartment is likely rent-stablizied. (Mine is too.) Here is an explainer on the difference between the two: http://www.nakedapartments.com/guides/nyc/renting-in-new-york-city/rent-regulation

  • CaityB

    Oh god how I hate that show. Put me down as one of the revilers. It struck me as annoyingly unrealistic, flighty, and evocative of the worst stereotypes about women from the very beginning of the show. ($40k on shoes? Exactly. Calling any man ‘Mr Big’ for any reason whatsoever? Please.) SATC in no way permitted the suspension of disbelief that is necessary to enjoy a fanciful female fiction, which I love and have enjoyed plenty. At least not for me. And it is depressing to me that this singularly terrible show continues to be some kind of pop culture touchstone for women decades later. I kept waiting for it to die when it was in production. Now it seems to be an undead thing that won’t go away. If any woman anywhere ever actually compared her future to SATC and feels like her life today has come up short of the Carrie Bradshaw fantasy, I just, I don’t know, I feel so incredibly sad. And that was before I ever lived in NYC and knew better firsthand.

    • CaityB

      And I meant to say thank you for writing this! Thanks for exposing some of the underlying assumptions in the show and comparing them to financial facts. Sorry to be such a hater. These kind of articles are the reason I read and love TFD.

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      i hated the show at first, for pretty much the same reasons: Carrie is stupid and not in a cute she-just-has-to-grow-up-a-bit way, while the show itself paints a totally unrealistic view of the kind of life the avarage city-dweller has.
      now that its run is over i have learned to tolerate its existence, but i’d much rather watch stuff like babylon5 or the mentalist.

      for vapid-girl-done-right i recommend shopaholic (the book, not the movie): i don’t expect a sudden outburst of common sense, just that the story does not feel like some advertisement-campaign wrt reality-levels.

  • Court E. Thompson

    SATC lover here: I don’t understand the urge to understand the show through today’s lens. New York wasn’t the city then it is today. It was even more different in the 80s when the fictional characters would have moved there. It was actually livable and while yes, $40,000 is way too much spent on shoes, it’s fiction. (I also never took that statement as fact and instead thought it was supposed to be a hyperbolic contrast to the money she needed for her apt.)

    Also, salary-wise, you have to take into account that she was experience writer at that point. She presumably started in her early 20s (or late teens if The Carrie Diaries is canon) and is in her early 30s when the show started. She was established enough to have a column. #carrieapologist

    As always, IMHO.

    • Lisa1597

      ALSO, it’s been awhile for me, but I believe it wasn’t that she didn’t have ‘nowhere to live’ as in couldn’t come up with her $750 rent but that she was abruptly expected to BUY her apartment, and she didn’t happen to have FIFTY GRAND on hand, which is pretty unsurprising, because who has that kind of money just lying around?

      I understand the annoyance with people who expect to be able to live like her in today’s NY, but Carrie had plenty of faults without anyone having to make up more for her.

      —another Carrie apologist

    • RobSolf

      It is pretty fun to go over the actual lifestyle numbers for some of these shows. Like somebody did with Friends which had people living in an apartment next to Central Park who were part time actors or servers at coffee shops, etc. Pretty much every show on TV that doesn’t address poverty directly(Roseanne, The Middle, etc) only vaguely addresses money issues, at best.

      I liked SatC, the show; it seemed to have some self awareness and it treated character excess as a genuine(though lighthearted) human flaw(“A shoe shopping trip and 3 maxed credit cards later…”).

      But the movies threw that dynamic out the window, with the ladies trotting the globe as though money isn’t a thing; watching it literally made me sick to my stomach. It probably didn’t help that we were post 9/11, had 2 big recessions where people were losing their homes and getting stung hard from their own “Maxed CC” excesses.

      • Court E. Thompson

        I agree with your overall premise that it’s fun to figure out the the financials of these shows, but I disagree that they don’t address it at all. For one, Friends was set in Greenwich Village, not next to Central Park. And the ability for them to live there was addressed – Monica and Rachel were in Monica’s rent-controlled grandmother’s apartment illegally, and the supe threatened to tell the landlord on one occasion.

        Anywho, you’re right that they don’t address poverty directly, but do they need to? Was that their goal?

        I’d agree that SATC movie 2 was disastrous.

        • RobSolf

          I agree, they don’t really need to address it directly unless it’s a show that centers around that struggle, or even a character arc that could be made into something interesting. My main overall point was that you could aim that “Could these characters afford their lifestyle?” gun at almost any show out there.

          • Court E. Thompson

            Agreed!

  • Jennifer

    Watching the show for the first time now, and for the most part – I agree with you on it being crazy unrealistic.

    HOWEVER – she does comment on her overspending, and she does shop at thrift stores. She has mentioned that she was broke when she moved to New York, and bought Vogue instead of groceries.

    It’s not 100% realistic, but what show is? I’m seeing it more as representational of how we date, the people we encounter, and how to navigate relationships of all kinds.

  • Andrea Koder

    (coughs) 18 not 16 years ago.

  • Keisha

    Idk…. I know a lot of girls living the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle in New York on about that budget. Only difference I can think of is they have roommates.

    • Magical Unicorn

      and trust funds…

      • Keisha

        I beg to disagree

  • Lauren Conrad

    Sex in the City is insane. But I think that if it were made in 2016, the writers would be forced to give her an unrealistic apartment in the nicest areas of Brooklyn and put her on a subway. We do need to adjust for gentrification and cultural inflation as well as monetary inflation.

  • Facebook User

    I don’t know SATC that well, but I think everybody knew she had a rent controlled apartment. It has been the topic of at least one, but probably multiple episodes. That if you have a rent controlled apartment overlooking the park, you d be crazy to buy or leave.

    • Clytamnestra Dunge

      has her family been living in that apartment for the last 100 years or so?