What is Middle Class in Brooklyn?

So many "going-to-be-married"This weekend The New York Times looked into what it takes to be middle class in Manhattan. As can be expected, there were an incredible range of answers. According to the story, the mid-range of income in Manhattan is between $45,000 and $134,000. But defining middle class by lifestyle (what your money gets you) requires a significant upward adjustment due to the high cost of housing. By that measure middle class Manhattanites earn between $80,000 and $235,000. The writer found a Columbia University professor who could only make ends meet for herself and her 9-year-old son on a likely salary of $125,000 thanks to heavily subsidized university housing. One basic definition of middle class came from Desiree Gaitan, a social media manager quoted in the story: “Middle class, to me, is having a pretty good job, enough money to pay bills and rent, and then a little extra.” According to the Census Bureau, median household income in Brooklyn is $45,593 about $21,000 lower than it is across the river. Is it easier to be middle class in Brooklyn than in Manhattan? What is middle class here?

Photo by: Aki_mw


21 Comment

  • “middle class” are code words, they have no real meaning. In the NY Times it usually means wealthy Caucasians who live in Manhattan. Other publications use the term to describe everyone except perhaps Mayor Bloomberg, illegal aliens, and prison inmates.
    According to Marx, (Karl not Groucho) someone who is middle class has more than one source of income and does not rely solely on wages for a living. That would include people who own rental properties, or a business, or who have investment income. Sorry it does not mean someone who lives from paycheck to the next. Those folks are considered “proletariat”.
    But in modern America, middle class is defined by whom is excluded rather than by whom is included. It is a meaningless term taken out of context -especially in NYC where even the very wealthy cling to the fantasy that they are merely “upper middle class”.

    • Oh come on. Middle class means good job, good food, the chance for comfort in retirement, a safe neighborhood, a decent school to send your kids to…you want to see the excluded, go visit Marxville and see what a miserable existence they live…even two decades after the whole thing imploded.

      New York is a reality distortion field. People who make a lot of money live relatively modestly EXCEPT that they live in New York, a place of extraordinary wealth of culture and experience. But people choose to live here because it’s here. You live in 800 square feet but you can walk to the Met and get in any time you want for $50 a year.

      Do you really think living in an 800 square foot apartment on a busy street makes you wealthy? Is that what you think of when you think of rich?

      America is a place where hard work pays off – because it gives you CHOICES. You can live in a culturally rich place like New York, but you pay for the privilege. Giving up one thing to get another. Or you can live in Minneapolis and have a big house and a big yard but no met, no Central Park, no MOMA…and pay through the nose to visit every so often.

      Middle Class is, above all else, choice. You have options to live how you want to live, where you want to live.

  • Minard…”Don’t be defeatist, my dear. it’s very middle class.”

    -The Dowager Countess

  • You’re not starving if you’re making $45K or $67K, but sure as hell don’t have anything left over at the end of the month.

    Put in another context, LL require 40x rent income to qualify. I can’t imagine even finding a decent Brooklyn apartment for $1,125 or a Manhattan studio in a good neighborhood for $1,675. Surely they exist, but that is well below published rental rates.

    Starting out fresh you’d have to go to the hinterlands or upper Manhattan to afford an apartment if you were median income.

    • What if the person in question has been renting in the same place for many years or even bought a coop before the late 90s? It really depends on when you entered the rental or purchase market. What if somebody making $45k-$67k inherited their home from family members? What if they have rent control? What if they don’t have student loans or other debt? There are so many factors.

  • “Middle class, to me, is having a pretty good job, enough money to pay bills and rent, and then a little extra.”

    This is a pretty good definition. It will change dramatically depending upon where you live across the country and within the northeast.

  • “Middle class, to me, is having a pretty good job, enough money to pay bills and rent, and then a little extra.”

    having the little extra is so hard in NYC. It’s difficult to save with everything being so expensive.

  • If one aspires to move up the social ladder, those white stretch limos are not a good choice. Very “Bay Ridge”

  • “The only young people she sees moving in around her are often buoyed by parental support, given an apartment at graduation the way she was given a Seiko watch”

    where’s *rob*?

  • I was given a Bulova watch for HS graduation.

  • The answer to this question can be determined by researching the data that already exists.

  • Yes but it would seem I actually have a lot more things.

  • If you are middle class — doesn’t change by where in city you live.
    You choose how to spend your income – housing, clothing, entertainment, savings. If you want to rent on Park avenue and 60th won’t have much left for the rest. But you’re still middle class.
    If share a shabby room in bayridge — you’re still middle class but can eat out at Lutece.

  • NYC = rich people trying to convince each other they’re not rich.