A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
According to recent research, New York is the unhappiest city in America. According to other recent research, we’re practically all millionaires.
Something isn’t quite lining up here.
The first study, which is still under review, comes out of the University of British Columbia Vancouver School of Economics. Researchers came to the conclusion that New Yorkers are the unhappiest of all major city dwellers, with Pittsburghers coming in second and Louisvillers, Milwaukeeans, and Detroiters completing the top five. No offense to those last four, but which of these things is not like the others? What’s NYC doing on this list of sad sacks, anyway? We’ve got culture, we’ve got food that’ll blow your mind, we’ve got art and history and industry and an extensive if unairconditioned subway system. We’ve got humor and pastrami and pizza and ethnic diversity and waterfronts and bike lanes and bus lanes! Okay, we’ve got stress. And violence. And a pretty serious income disparity. And super duper tiny apartments NONE OF WHICH HAVE GARBAGE DISPOSALS. And I suppose things are a tad expensiiiiive. Fine, fine, fine. But I think we need to take a look at this study and do some serious thinking about whether we’re truly unhappier than everyone else or just like to complain the most. Philly is number ten! Philly. If they can suck it up, certainly we can improve our attitudes.
Which brings me to the next study, which estimates that one out of every 25 New Yorkers is a millionaire. Just think about that number. That means that on any given bus or subway car, you’re seated with a good handful of folks who should really consider taking a taxi. While it’s fun to imagine our city filled with a bunch of Mr. Monopolies and Veronica Lodges ordering their drivers to fetch them from the club and passing Grey Poupon back and forth between their limos at red lights, we all know this is not the case. Having over a million dollars is, of course, nothing to sneeze at, but the sad fact of our city is that many of these golden children probably still live in eight hundred square foot apartments and have to suffer the indignity of removing Mrs. Fleishman’s underthings from the washing machine in the basement in order to do their laundry. Have you seen what a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan costs these days? And private school tuition? And a Metrocard? Girl, please. All of the 99 percenters can sit back on their reasonably priced sofas and breathe a sigh of relief, because even the haves in this town aren’t living that much higher on the hog.
Which, perhaps, may explain the first study a little bit better. If I was a millionaire and all I could afford was a two bedroom in which the second bedroom was also the living room, I’d be pretty unhappy, too. However, as a non-millionaire, being relegated to these types of options was neither a surprise nor terribly disappointing. We just did what the rest do who reside in the happy middle: we moved to Queens. Hooray for Queens! Millionaires, take note. Also, stay out. You’re bringing the rest of us down.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!