Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Defense of Privileged, Rich 22-Year-Olds Who Are Buying Their Own Apartments

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

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If anyone needs to be defended, it's probably rich, 22-year-old New Yorkers who can afford to buy their own apartments, right? Well, no. Probably not. And yet, here I am, about to defend a young woman who considers it "normal" that upon graduating from college, she has $50,000 in her bank account, no reported student loan debt, and is the brand new owner of a one-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village. So why am I defending her? Well, because besides being a property owner, this woman is also the kind of woman who people feel comfortable cursing out in a very public way before, jokingly, calling for for her head as if she was a member of the French aristocracy and it was 1789. This...seems a little extreme?

In case you didn't read it yesterday, the New York Observer published a first-person essay by 22-year-old Polly Mosendz about her experience buying an apartment in New York City. In the article, which is unfortunately titled "Polly-Go-Lightly" (a headline I will absolutely not be defending), Ms. Mosendz writes, "I am a normal 20-something. I don’t own a matching set of dishes, and I’m not entirely sure how to do laundry without ruining something." She is also a newly minted homeowner. After finding herself frustrated at the amount of money she was shelling out on rent each month, Ms. Mosendz realized that she could, thanks to being in possesion of "some $50,000 in the bank—a nest egg from [her] family augmented by savings that [she]’d stashed away by working in retail since the age of 14," afford to buy her own apartment. She goes on to recount the struggles of looking for an appropriate apartment in New York that is within her budget of $250,000, and talks about not being taken seriously because of her age and because of the low price point she's dealing with. In the end though, lucky Polly winds up with an apartment to call her very own, albeit one that is less than 500-square-feet and appears to have an alley-facing view and a bedroom that barely fits her bed. Whatever. She's happy.

You know who isn't happy? Like, basically, every single person who reads this article. Some of the commenters on the Observer website dismissed her by saying things like, "Stories of the struggles of poor little rich girls are always so uplifting to the peasants," or "You're terrible. You know what I did with my retail work money? PAID FOR COLLEGE. And, I still have debt. Check your privilege." While some commenters defended Polly against all the hatred, the overwhelming consensus of the commenters of what has become a paper that routinely publishes content geared toward the richest of rich New Yorkers was that Polly was just another rich girl whose experience was invalidated by her privilege. A GroupThink post on Jezebel took it even further with its author writing, "No, you fucking dipshit, you are NOT 'normal.'"

Which, seriously? "You fucking dipshit"? What exactly did Polly Mosendz write (I won't blame her for the headline, she almost definitely didn't write that) to engender so much ire. I mean, I get it. She called herself "normal" at a time when student loan debt is at an all-time crippling high and when many 32-year-olds do not have $5,000 in savings, let alone $50,000. That was obtuse. And it also speaks to an editorial team at the Observer that does not really have a firm grasp on what "normal" is either, or they would have perhaps changed that aspect of the article. However, beyond that? What is so wrong with someone of Ms. Mosendz's financial circumstances doing what she did and investing her money in real estate instead of, I don't know, world travel? I don't know if I would behave that responsibly if I had that much money at my disposal now, and I am much older than Ms. Mosendz. All she did was write an essay talking about what it was like to buy an apartment in one of the toughest real estate market's in the world, all while being only twenty-two. Maybe she's not normal in terms of how much money she has, but in terms of what type of investment she chose to make with that money, she's actually pretty conservative. It's fine to be a little envious of Ms. Mosendz and to wish that more twenty-something New Yorkers had the financial options that she has due to circumstances of birth, but to call for the executions of people like her—even hyperbolically—is among the more ridiculous things I've ever read. There are far, far bigger problems than Ms. Mosendz in this city that is so clearly divided between haves and have-nots. Save your ire for the people who really deserve it, not 22-year-olds who live in shoebox apartments.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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