For most television lovers, the question of whether our favorite sit-com characters could realistically afford to live in their TV house or apartment is a purely academic one—the answer to which has little-to-no effect on our enjoyment of the show. Of course Carrie Bradshaw can’t afford that insane Manhattan apartment—let alone the Manolo Blahniks—on the salary of a weekly columnist. But we’re not exactly watching Sex and the City for a realistic portrayal of life in New York City, are we?
That said, imagining yourself in a certain character’s shoes (or professionally decorated two-bedroom flat) is one of the pleasures of watching our favorite shows. Not to dampen your day dreams, but we thought we’d bring a little journalistic precision to your couch-born fantasies.
So we asked Trulia to estimate what some of the most famous apartments and homes from the past few decades of TV comedy would cost their occupants, and compared that to the average salary for the characters’ occupation. Could commercial actor Dev really afford that rustic Williamsburg studio on Master of None? What’s up with Soulstice custodian Abbi’s Astoria two-bedroom in Broad City? And, of course: How could Monica afford that massive Greenwich Village two bedroom on a chef’s salary? (Spoiler: She probably couldn’t. Ah, the magic of TV.)
Salary information is based on the 2016 average and was pulled from a variety of sources, including PayScale.com, Salary.com, and government websites.
Full House: Danny Tanner's House
Looks like journalism paid more back in the '80s. The San Francisco house featured on Full House, a Victorian three-bedroom built in 1883, hit the market last week for $4.15 million.
In the show, Danny Tanner was a news anchorman who lived with his three daughters, brother-in-law, and best friend. Jesse Katsopolis, the brother-in-law, held a number of jobs throughout the show: he worked for his father's business, in advertising, co-hosted a radio show, and later became a club owner. Joey Gladstone, the best friend, works as a stand-up comedian, ad man (with Jesse), actor in a children's television series, and more. PayScale puts the average news anchor salary at anywhere from $30,094 to $129,507 per year. (We'll assume Danny is on the higher end of the scale.)
The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's Apartment
Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter's apartment 4A on The Big Bang Theory in Pasadena, Calif. Trulia pegs the two-bedroom, one-bath at $1,875 per month, which means theoretical physicist Sheldon and experimental physicist Leonard are living well below their means. Each would typically make about $88,000 per year, according to PayScale. So even when Leonard moves in with his fiance Penny across the hall, Sheldon would still be able to afford the pad solo.
Broad City: Abbi's Apartment
Comedy Central's Broad City doesn't shy away from showing what living in New York City is actually like: the struggle to install an A/C unit, showing up (or not) day after day for a job you aren't passionate about but need to pay the bills, selling clothes to pay off student debt. So it makes sense that Abbi's apartment in Astoria, Queens, isn't palatial like NYC apartments are on so many other shows, but actually realistic for a 26-year-old barely scrapping by. Trulia pegs the rent at about $2,300 per month, which, split between two people, almost qualifies as a steal for a New York apartment.
While Abbi dreams of becoming an artist full-time, she pays the bills by working as a custodian at the upscale boutique fitness center Soulstice, where she desperately wants to be a trainer. If she made NYC's minimum wage of $9 per hour, she would bring in about $1,560 per month or $18,720 per year, so we'll assume she makes better money than that (or her parents are helping her pay off her bills). No wonder she wants Bevers to split the rent.
Friends: Monica's Apartment
Perhaps the television apartment best-known for making no financial sense (with the possible exception of Carrie Bradshaw's on Sex and the City), Monica's apartment on Friends would cost around $4,200 per month, according to Trulia—and that's the cost of the average two-bedroom, one-bathroom rental in Greenwich Village. Given the size of Monica's common area, you can bet it'd be pricier than that.
The show tried to add verisimilitude early on by noting that Monica "inherited" the lease from her grandmother under New York's arcane rent stabilization laws. Still, until Rachel moved in, how could a chef pay $4,200 per month in rent alone? According to Salary.com, the average salary for an executive chef in 2016 is around $78,000.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy and Titus' Apartment
Kimmy's basement apartment in Brooklyn isn't exactly luxurious: Her bedroom is closet-sized and the shower is in the kitchen.
Even so, Trulia (which assumed the fictional apartment would be in Williamsburg or Greenpoint) says the average rent for a one-bedroom, one-bath costs $3,250 per month. So it would seem that Lillian is giving Kimmie and her roommate Titus Andromedon a seriously good deal: In the first episode, Titus is said to owe Lillian $950 for two months of back rent. That means he's paying $475 a month. Split between the two, that's just $237.50 per month.
Jane the Virgin: Abuela's House
On Jane the Virgin, Jane Villanueva lives in the home her grandmother and grandfather bought when they first arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela. In an interview with Money, showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman explained that the Mateo and Alba were quite wealthy in Venezuela, and that Mateo used all of his money to buy the home outright so that the family would always have it.
Trulia lists the Miami three-bedroom house at $299,000 in 2016, a reasonable amount for a wealthy immigrant family to pay off. As the mortgage is paid off, it makes sense that 23-year-old Jane, a waitress and teaching assistant, would remain in the house, like so many other millennials, rent-free as she pursues her graduate degree and professional writing career.
Gilmore Girls: Lorelai's House
Oh, Gilmore Girls. How I love you. Unfortunately, there's no way Lorelai Gilmore would have been able to afford her beautiful Stars Hallow home, which Money previously calculated would cost almost $3 million.
As we broke down before, Lorelai, who does not have even a high school degree, though she does take business classes during the show's run, was likely making between $51,000 and $62,000 when we meet her in the first season of the show. By that time, Lorelai and daughter Rory had been living in their two-bedroom home for some time. Yet by our calculation, the single mom would have had to put at least $420,000 down, not counting closing costs or property taxes. Given that it's a point of pride for Lorelai that she did not ask her WASPy parents for financial assistance (and likely would not have qualified for a large loan on her own, as was explored in the season 2 episode "Secrets and Loans"), this house is perhaps one of the least realistic residences on this list.
New Girl: The Loft
Jess, Nick, Schmidt, and Winston's loft is the primary setting for New Girl. And for good reason: The massive space boasts four bedrooms, an open layout, and a massive bathroom. And the common area is large enough to host an intense game of True American.
The loft, purportedly located in Los Angeles's Arts District, would rent for about $7,395 a month, according to Trulia, meaning each of the four roommates pays around $1,850 per month (or, spoiler, $1,479 once Cece moves in).
So, could the roommates afford the rent? Let's break it down.
- According to Salary.com, the average public school teacher in L.A. makes around $58,455 per year, meaning Jess would be spending around half (or more) of her income on rent. Not wise, but not unrealistic, either.
- Schmidt is the most obviously wealthy of the roommates—as in, the most likely to tell the others how good his cash flow is. He is an advertising associate at Associate Strategies, and is upfront about enjoying the finer things in life. According to salary.com, the average marketing specialist makes around $63,500 per year. Presumably Schmidt has a few years of experience under his belt, which could put his salary higher.
- When we first reach Winston, he is returning from playing professional basketball in Latvia. According to the Sports Agent Blog, players in Europe can nab starting contracts as high as $100,000, so it's safe to say he could afford his room. He later joins the Los Angeles Police Department, which offers an annual salary of $60,552 for officers fresh out of the academy. He would then likely be bumped up to $64, 916. So while rent would eat a healthy part of his paycheck, depending on well he saved/invested while playing bball, he could still swing it.
- Nick is the most troublesome of the four roommates when it comes to whether or not he could afford his room. Notoriously strapped for cash, Nick is a bartender and later, co-owner of Clyde's Bar (with Schmidt), and does not have a bank account. PayScale puts the average annual income of bartenders at between $11,762 and $45,020. As a part owner of the bar, Nick is probably a bit better off.
Master of None: Dev's Apartment
One of the standout components of Aziz Ansari's Netflix show Master of None is main character Dev's impeccably designed studio apartment. The Williamsburg apartment features an open layout, modern furniture, and industrial fixtures—not to mention the Eames chair. In other words, it's what most late-20s/early-30s Brooklynites wish their apartments looked like.
Trulia puts the monthly rent at $2,770, based on apartments listed since March 2016. Before Rachel, Dev's girlfriend, moves in, the actor is paying for the pad on his own. While it may seem like a Carrie-Bradshaw-could-never-afford-that-one-bedroom-on-a-freelancers-salary move by the show, Ansari sees it differently. Per a Reddit AMA he and co-creator Alan Yang did when the show first aired, the authenticity of the 30-year-old character's apartment was something they and the set designers took quite seriously. As Ansari explained:
So remember, if you want a nicer apartment, try landing a Gogurt commercial.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air House
Will was one lucky guy. According to Zillow's calculation, the Bel-Air mansion he moves into with his aunt and uncle costs over $11 million today.
How did the family afford such nice digs? Philip Banks likely made a decent salary as a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer and judge, and Vivian was a doctor before becoming a part-time teacher in later years. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they made some smart financial and investing moves when they were both working.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Rebecca's Townhouse
In the pilot of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, main character Rebecca Bunch gives up her luxury apartment and high-profile job at a Manhattan law firm to move out to West Covnia, Calif., where the people are (seemingly) happier and the cost of living is much lower. She moves into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom townhouse, which Trulia puts at a reasonable $1,050 per month.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average salary for a lawyer in Los Angeles—West Covina is located just outside of L.A.—makes $165,660. Even if she made slightly less than that in the smaller town, Rebecca, who boasts degrees from both Yale and Harvard and an impressive resume, is still doing ok for herself, even with giving up a salary of closer to $500k in New York.
Considering Rebecca starts the show with a healthy savings account and a solid law job, the townhouse is a reasonable abode for her. Throughout the show's first season, Rebecca spends money rather freely, which eventually catches up to her in the episode "Josh Is Going to Hawaii!", when her luxury sedan is repossessed and she's forced to sell her couch. But still, a $1,050 per month rent should be within her budget.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake's (First) Apartment
At the start of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Detective Jake Peralta is staying in his grandmother's rent stabilized (notice a pattern?) apartment in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for Jake, the building is being turned into a co-op, and he must come up with $430,000 to buy it outright. He can't, so his friend and colleague Gina buys it while Jake moves into her studio.
While PayScale doesn't offer salary information on Gina's "civilian administrator" job for at the NYPD, a detective makes between $49,362 and $137,600, on average. Peralta's been at it for a few years, so he's probably somewhere in the middle—meaning, he should have his life together by now. If Gina makes anywhere near as much as he does, it's reasonable to assume she could afford the down payment.
Seinfeld: Jerry's Apartment
Already a successful comedian in Seinfeld, Jerry could likely afford the $2,600 monthly rent on his Upper West Side one-bedroom apartment (although, seriously, there are better deals up there).
Of course, if Jerry's bank account in the show is anything like Jerry's in real life, then who cares if it's a good deal or not.