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Are You Happy in Your 5-bedroom Penthouse Apartment?

Uncategorized // Oct 06, 2010


I am always intrigued and entertained by our culture and the way in which we like to package and classify people. The line between economists, philosophers, scientists, psychologists and pundits has never been more blurry. We ask ourselves so many questions. Questions inevitably spur many more answers. We love to package things in little boxes and try make sense of intangible attributes that affect our daily lives:

“How much do I need to retire?”….. “How smart am I?”…..”What type of music is this?”…….”What will the effects of PDA’s have on our communication skills as a society? (more about that in another blog entry)”….”Etc, etc, etc?”.

My new favorite scientific sociological exploration (a new phrase I coined) is: “What is the “the income threshold of HAPPINESS!”

Are you happy in your one-bedroom apartment? Well, according to a new study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, the answer is a resounding “YES”! And if you think that a bigger place will make you happier…think again. According to the report, the plateau of happiness is at about $75,000 a year, which means that if you live in Manhattan (south of 96th Street), and unless you hit the real estate lottery and got the deal of all deals, you’re living in a one-bedroom. Here’s the math: $75k income per year X 2 (assuming you’re a couple with two incomes) gets you more or less a million dollar mortgage (with good credit, of course). If you’re renting, you would qualify for a rent of a 1-bedroom of $3,500 per month (once again, with good credit, of course).

I have heard from many a buyer that their happiest moments in life were when they were living in that 3 story walk up in the East Village right after college (and probably making less than $75k per year). I wonder if the state of that happiness was connected their income at the time – not age, health, state of mind or the people they were surrounding themselves with. Perhaps they’re working on that study now…