I don't mean to brag, but I recently found myself in America's Heartland, proud home of chain restaurants and the last vestiges of the country's working class. Perusing an Omaha newspaper, I stumbled upon some rental listings; their prices made my insufferably cheap blood run cold. "How much do you think a one-bedroom apartment in Omaha costs?" I asked my pal. "$800?" she replied. "Less," I said. "$700?" "Less." "Jesus, $600?" "$525," I solemnly informed her, "Utilities included." I don't think I've ever seen her so upset.
Not to say that Los Angeles, the city we both call home, is a prohibitively expensive hell. Compared to a place like New York City, it may as well be Omaha. While a recent New York Times writer's claims that a two-bedroom bungalow in Echo Park can be procured for a tears-of-joy-inducing $1,250 per month are completely and utterly delusional, the fact that the average Angeleno can afford to live in something larger than the glorified closets their New Yorker counterparts inhabit is an undeniable fact. Here's what your rental dollar'll get you on both coasts. (SPOILER ALERT: Los Angeles wins, hands down.)
The rent: $900
↑ It is impossible to live alone in New York City for $900 a month. For that price, the best you can hope for is finding a few non-sociopathic roommates in a non-vermin-infested apartment located miles away from anything of note. This 100-square-foot room in East Flatbush is as tiny as it is isolated—it may be a 30-minute walk from the nearest subway station, but at least it has free WiFi! The poster's declaration that doctors are "welcome" to sleep on the matchbook-sized twin bed presumably only refers to ones who have had their medical license revoked.
↑ If you're willing to walk 30 minutes to the nearest train, why not drive 30 minutes to work? For the same price as a 100-square-foot room, you can rent a comparatively huge, tastefully remodeled one-bedroom duplex in LA's Jefferson Park.
The rent: $1,250
↑ Let's see what $1,250 really gets you in Los Angeles, shall we? While it's no two-bedroom Echo Park bungalow, this "beautiful" studio in the highly desirable neighborhood of Los Feliz ain't nothin' to shake a stick at. Located near the Sunset and Vermont Metro stop, it boasts hardwood floors and allows small dogs.
↑ Want to live alone in NYC for $1,250? You're SOL. After a long, ire-inducing afternoon spent trying to find the best shared living space for the price, I stumbled upon this room in a Williamsburg loft. The windowless chamber is conveniently located next to the kitchen you'll be sharing with three other "chill" roommates—there's no television in the shared area, which means you'll probably have to stream Girls on your laptop.
The rent: $2,000
↑ If you're willing to schlep back and forth from Bushwick, you can call this two-bedroom, second-story apartment home. With stainless steel appliances and new hardwood floors, the sunny dwelling—dare I say—looks habitable, and is located a mere three blocks from the nearest subway station. Listen, I'm as shocked as you are, ok? It's gotta be a Craigslist scam. Ah, but what a scam.
↑ Gauche Berber carpet aside, this huge (1,380 square feet!) Sierra Madre cottage has great views and a disgustingly quaint garden. The two-bedroom, two-story backhouse comes with its own sunroom and two full baths. We've got space out here in the west, as evidenced by this delightful, flora-surrounded retreat. New York's got nothin' on this foliage, let me tell you.
The rent: $3,000
↑ Money talks—if you're able to pony up the goods, you can find something in Manhattan, glorious Manhattan! Three grand'll get you this Murray Hill two-bedroom, which promises "Sun Splashed Insanity at an Even Insaner [sic] Price!" What it lacks in aesthetic charm (the kitchen cabinets and flooring leave a great deal to be desired), it makes up for in the fact that it's larger than a dorm room. "High ceilings, hardwood parquet floors, and overall plenty of space"—all this can be yours for a mere $36,000 a year! (As someone who made a third of that in 2014, I can't help but feel intense malaise over this alleged "bargain.")
↑ One thing LA real estate has that New York lacks? Backyards. This three bedroom-house in Eagle Rock has one, and it's "huge" at that. With central A/C and hardwood floors, you'll be gentrifying the former working-class neighborhood of Eagle Rock in comfort and style. Sleep well knowing your third bedroom could house no fewer than three long-suffering New Yorkers desperate to live closer to their internships than New Jersey. —Megan Koester
· Renters Week 2015 [Curbed LA]
· Sorry, New Yorkers, You Cannot Rent a Los Angeles Dream Home For $1,250 [Curbed LA]