How I Bought An NYC Skyline View Home with 60k Salary

Stella Guan
8 min readDec 22, 2020
A view of the living room in my New Jersey condo

When I was in my mid-twenties, my living situation became frustrating. I had been living in an apartment in Queens, New York with a roommate and renting out our living room to lower our expenses.

After several horrific roommate incidents, including one that involved our living room subtenant almost burning down the apartment, I began to question my co-living situation.

I felt that it was time to move on. As to where, I had no idea.

One day, as I was talking to my mother on the phone. She asked me if I had thought about buying my first home.

Having moved to New York right after college, I was accustomed to the high rent and subpar living condition. The idea of buying my own home with a modest salary of 60k a year working as a graphic designer has never crossed my mind, not to mention the fact that I was single.

“I can’t afford that. Do you know how little I make?” I told my mother without thinking twice.

“But have you even looked into it?” said my mother.

“Oh, that I haven’t.” I admitted.

It was then when I realized that I needed to do my own research before coming to a conclusion that I can’t afford a home in New York, arguably one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.

It was then when I realized that I needed to do my own research before coming to a conclusion that I can’t afford a home in New York.

New York’s Co-Op Disappointment

The search didn’t start off promising as I realized that most apartments available in the New York area are out of my budget, not to mention that roughly 75% of them are co-ops.

When people buy co-ops, they aren’t actually buying real property because co-ops are owned by corporations that sell shares to buyers. In addition to the “non-ownership” nature as a buyer, you also have to seek co-op board approvals for almost everything you do with your apartment, such as renting, sale and renovation. The board want to maintain the quality of the community by knowing exactly who you rent/sell to and what you do…

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