Commenter “JerseyGuy” brought to my attention a recent NY Times article from the “Hunt” series, about how people find places to live in New York City.
Matt is a music teacher at public high school in Westchester, and Kate is a “freelance television producer.” The commenter wondered how they can afford to buy a co-op in Morningside Heights for the asking price was $869,000 and, which on top of that, has a monthly maintenance fee $1,750. Although there’s no real estate tax because it’s included in the monthly maintenance fee, that does seem like a lot of money considering they both have what I would guess to be jobs with only five-figure salaries. “Freelance” is usually a codeword for not steadily employed and not making a lot of money, and even a producer with a full-time job only makes a median salary of $58,585.
There’s also the mystery of where they are sending their six-year-old son to school. A public school in Morningside Heights is probably a public school full of blacks and mulatto Hispanics where a little white kid will get beaten up. But surely a public school teacher married to a possibly unemployed low-level person in the media industry can’t possibly afford to send their kid to an expensive Manhattan private school?
Sadly for Matt, both of his parents died recently and at a fairly young age given modern life expectancies. But fortunately for him, his father was one of the country’s top heart surgeons, so Matt could have easily inherited quite a bit of money. His father was probably making $500,000 a year. He could have saved up several million dollars, and even divided among three children, Matt might have inherited enough money to pay cash for the co-op. (Also, here is mother’s obituary if you are interested.)
I have not been able to find out much about Kate’s family background. All I know is that she grew up in Larchmont, which is one of the wealthiest villages in Westchester. Her parents are retired and living in Miami, Florida. They may be quite wealthy given that they are from Larchmont, or they might just be merely well off, but it’s impossible to say for sure. They don’t have much of an internet presence.
The bottom line here is that they were able to afford the co-op because Matt inherited money from his parents, and Kate may also be receiving parental assistance. And that's how a public school teacher gets to live like a member of the elite. How can you compete if your parents are merely middle-class?
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UPDATE: "The Engineer" informed me that salaries of public employees are online. Matt makes $71,624/year. Not a bad salary for a public school teacher (which points out that well-connected children of wealthy parents manage to get decent salaries even at jobs which don’t normally pay that well), but it’s not enough money to afford an $869,000 co-op which has a $1,750 monthly maintenance fee on top of that.