on the cover

On the Cover: It’s Easy to Imagine an Ideal Grown-up Life in NYC. But How Much Does It All Cost?

Photo: Gail Albert Halaban

New York’s May 22–June 4, 2023 cover package, with reporting by Rachel Sugar, Jack Denton, and Laura Thompson, alongside Adriane Quinlan, features interviews with a wide range of young New Yorkers who describe their dream lives in extreme detail. New York then calculated the price tags of those lives down to the dollar.

The purpose of presenting these receipts isn’t to shock or horrify (though it may shock and it may horrify). We hope it’s genuinely useful to younger New Yorkers wrestling with questions like: What would my family income have to be to support my vision of tomorrow? What part of my dreams should change — or my plans for paying for them? Should I move upstate and renovate a dilapidated Victorian? (Do not do this.) Some readers may wonder: Is this city for me? But perhaps others will find in these case studies certain elements that could possibly (even if you don’t have a trust fund or your shares don’t vest) be within reach for a good and manageable New York life. Mostly we hope that it’s useful for people to learn how much New Yorkers actually spend. With a bit of the truth on display, everyone can make their own informed choices about the future.

“If you’re a young person trying to find your footing in New York, you spend your time between two states: willful ignorance on how much an aspirational adult life here is going to cost, and desperate curiosity about how much it is going to cost, plus a dash of just ambient dread,” says features editor Katy Schneider. “We decided just to demystify it. Our tact was to ask a range of New Yorkers what they wanted, then speak to their adult counterparts about what everything actually costs.”

In order to embody how much New Yorkers love to peer into others’ lives, New York procured a photograph captured by Gail Albert Halaban, titled My Neighbors, from the series “Out My Window.”

Elsewhere in the issue, features writer Lila Shapiro profiles Machaela Cavanaugh, a Democratic Nebraska state legislator who engaged in a multi-month filibuster to oppose a ban on trans health care for minors, and reporter Kevin T. Dugan examines the ways that Congress isn’t equipped to handle the impending AI revolution.

How Much Does an Ideal Grown-up Life in New York City Cost?