Let me rephrase that. Being broke is not fun. However, I've been broke in L.A. and it's much better to be broke here.
Yesterday I wrote about how annoying it is for people to assume I'm on vacation because I live in Rome. I lived in L.A. for 10 years I wasn't on vacation then, and I'm not now.
What's so hard to understand? I LIVE here. I'm a resident. I have a rental contract, pay taxes, a condo fee, utilities etc. Call me crazy but I didn't have to do those things "on vacation".
Anyway KimB. wrote this comment yesterday.
Sorry for the insensitivity of the person who sarcastically asked if you needed a vacation from your vacation.
I guess for me, it kind of has two aspects. People think my life *must* be glamorous since I live in Paris. No matter how many times I say I live in a 400-sq-ft apartment or that I can't find a 'real' job or that there's not enough hot water in our heater for my husband and I to take showers successively.
On the other hand, I think I use it as a protective cloak sometimes. I may not be doing anything exciting professionally, I may not be the success I was "meant" to be according to my high school and college "achievements" but at least if you're broke and 39 in Paris, you're broke and 39 in Paris. It's not as embarrassing as being broke and 39 and back home.
Kim is right. If I were going through my current situation back in L.A. I would need to be on some serious Prozac. How we define success (overall) in the States is bananas.
There is no way I would have the same quality of life I have here back in the States on my non-existent salary. Yes my apartment is tiny but these numbers jump out at me from an old NYT article:
Average rent in Manhattan Feb. 09
1 bedroom doorman building $3,395 a month
1 bedroom non-doorman building $2,632 a month.
Even with the horrible exchange rate I don't pay anything near that living in a similar area. I get paid the same regardless of where I live which is one reason why moving back to New York from Los Angeles was not an option.
When I lived in NYC 11 years ago, I had a great deal on a 1 bedroom in a doorman building. Studios were renting for $1,900 in my building. I can't imagine what they are charging now.
Excellent food is cheaper here.
My health insurance (private) is MUCH cheaper. I have a similar plan to what I had in the States. I pay doctor bills out of pocket but will be covered for emergency/hospital care. In America I paid $140 a month. Here $20.
It doesn't cost a lot to socialize. Seeing friends over an cheap aperitivo is easier on one's budget than $18 cocktails at the Beverly Hills Fours Season. As an exec I could expense it, now no longer an exec..no longer have an expense account.
Less pressure to keep up with the Jones. First of all you don't even know what the Jones have because it's considered rude and tacky to brag about it here. The culture is so different. You're not defined by your job. People have other interests and don't want to talk about work all the time.
I see friends more. I notice I rarely talk on the phone here. Just quick conversations to confirm plans. In L.A. seeing my friends was like scheduling a damn G8 summit.
I was on the phone all the time talking to my friends while sitting in traffic or once I got home. Why talk for an hour on the phone, why not just see each other? Because everyone is so "busy". I can't remember which comic was talking about this whole L.A. thing when you ask someone how they are, they always say, "busy".
Is this because of the uptight Pilgrims? Why is it considered a good idea to sacrifice everything for career/money? Will the economic turmoil make people rethink this?
A greater sense of community. I don't feel alone or lonely here. I feel at home.
Next week (if I remember) I'll write about why being single here is better for my mental health. ha