FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
"Without a doubt, the combined forces of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda have been more devastating to life in New York than anything dreamed up by Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay. As a cable series, Sex turned New York's way of life upside down -- convincing millions of Midwest dreamers that they could afford a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment by writing a single newspaper column every four months, that they could subsist entirely on Cosmos and pastries, and that they would magically have enough free time and disposable income to lunch with the girls in between Manolo Blahnik shopping sprees. Utterly devastating."
Premiere.com, "20 Movies That Destroy New York"

Your cast of good-looking single hangarounds live in a fancy apartment in the middle of the town. None of them seems to work, or if they do, they're usually actors, columnists or whatever leaves them with a lot of leisure time to have drama in their clean, well-furnished flats. How can they afford it? They have Friends Rent Control, named after Friends, where the cast handwaved their situation by saying they had rent control.

Besides appealing to audience fantasy, this is usually done because large sets are easier to film in. If Monica or Chandler's apartment on Friends had been realistic for their income and New York City's high cost of living, the entire apartment would be the size of an average living room, rather than the entire first floor of a house. Doing a scene with all six main characters would have been a total nightmare for the cast and crew. Also, especially in sitcoms, indoor sets usually have one completely blank "wall" where the crew and studio audience are, requiring the rest of the set to take up a lot more space than is needed to fit in all the requisite furniture and appliances.

See also Living in a Furniture Store, Standardized Sitcom Housing, and Pretty Freeloaders. The folks living in such an apartment may or may not have an Improbable Food Budget. Usually not an issue for Big Fancy House-dwellers, as they tend to be fantastically wealthy to start with.

Examples of Friends Rent Control include:


Anime and Manga

  • Arguably omnipresent in this category given that Japan has higher housing costs than almost anywhere else. Just about every anime has an unspoken district in Tokyo where decently sized apartments or full-fledged houses can be bought cheaply. A few acknowledge it with even a line about it being an old family home or something, once... maybe. The breadwinner in Light Yagami's household is a policeman (Though he is Chief of Japan's National Police Agency which is comparable to say the FBI); in Sailor Moon's household (in the particularly expensive Tokyo district of Juubangai), it's a news photographer (although later it seems he's been promoted to editor, and in the Manga and live-action television series he's instead highly respected and well-known photojournalist); and in Tantei Gakuen Q, it's not clear if Kyu's mom actually has a job, but they're all able to afford houses in Tokyo.
    • Another baffling example from Sailor Moon is the case of Makoto Kino/Jupiter, who is orphaned and does not have a job but owns and maintains her own apartment. Fanon tends to say that her parents left her a very large inheritance. The same is also true of Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask, however in the anime he is seen working at various jobs and it is explicitly stated that his parents left him a very large trust fund
  • In Pokémon, one has to wonder how Delia Ketchum affords her house, considering that she doesn't seem to work and she has no husband. While it's not alluded to in the show, additional material reveals that she runs a local restaurant.
  • Averted in the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart where the main character Shizuku lives in a realistically cramped apartment with her parents and shares a small room with her twenty-something sister until the older sibling moves out. Nishi's antique shop plays it straight however.
  • Averted in Ah! My Goddess. When Keiichi's sister Megumi goes looking for an apartment for her to stay while in college, he points out that she can't possibly afford the large apartment that she wants. A quick trip to a bunch of real estate agents drives this point home. When she does find an apartment that meets her specifications, it turns out that it's so cheap because it's haunted by a disgruntled spirit.
    • Played with in case of Keiichi himself, who lives with all three goddesses in a ridiculously large mansion that no college student could realistically afford. In reality, however, it's a rundown and abandoned shrine that was refurbished by Belldandy's magic.
  • The three sisters in Minami-ke are all students, with the oldest being in High School, and they live by themselves in a fairly big four-room apartment, despite having no apparent income. It's implied once that their father isn't around, either living elsewhere or dead, and the mother isn't referred to at all.
  • Played with in various continuities of Tenchi Muyo!. A frequent cause of disbelief is the size of Tenchi's house, that's apparently too large for the incomes of a single architect (Tenchi's father Nobuyuki) and a retired Shinto priest (his grandfather Katsuhito) to maintain, let alone acquire a land for, especially with the frequent Broke Episodes in TV Series, bringing the accusations of Masakis being the Land Poor. On the other hand, at least in the OVA continuity it's justified by the fact that it sits in countryside on the grounds of a family shrine, of which Katsuhito is the priest, and that their original house in the city was much smaller.
    • Furthermore, at least in the OVA continuity the Jurai Empire has serious covert influence on Earth, and Katsuhito has basically infinite funds, if he ever chose to use them.
  • Possibly averted in My Lovely Ghost Kana, because the apartment building where Daikichi lives is described as "nearly abandoned" and he may actually be squatting. Neither is it entirely clear what he actually does for a living.


Comics

  • Averted in the Knights of the Dinner Table comics. The main character have the free time and wherewithal to participate in a once-a-week Hackmaster campaign and many other events in the local gaming community. But despite the unusual amount of time devoted to this hobby, most characters in the comic do have fairly realistic jobs and home situations that tend to suffer when neglected.
  • Donald Duck lives in a free-standing two-floor house, despite not being able to hold a job for very long, or living on his uncle's slave labor wages. Handwaved by claiming Scrooge rents him the house, but that just raises more questions.


Film

  • Mostly averted in The Devil Wears Prada. Andy and Nate's apartment is only slightly bigger and nicer than what two recent college graduates could reasonably afford. Very tellingly, their apartment is in Greenwich Village, where housing is typically geared (both size and price wise) towards the local college students.
  • The heroes of Lakeview Terrace buy a large, beautiful house with an in-ground pool in a wealthy district of Los Angeles, an area with very high housing costs. They refer to this as a "starter home".
  • Parodied in Election, where at the end Matthew Broderick's character moves to an apartment in Manhattan so small that he can't have the bathroom door and from door open at the same time, while the subtitles inform us that he's paying over $1,500 a month plus utilities for it.
  • Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary's Baby is a struggling actor, and his wife Rosemary is a stay-at-home housewife, and yet they are able to afford a spacious prewar apartment in a stately building on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Even in the 1960s, expensive and sought-after real estate.
  • Sleeping with the Enemy: Laura is able to rent, fix up, and maintain a HUGE, beautiful home, despite only having a part-time job at a library before fleeing her abusive husband and initially not working at all when she does get away. And when she does finally start working, she's still in a job that doesn't pay much. Even for Iowa in the early 90's that's quite a stretch.
  • Averted in Marley and Me (no doubt because it's based on a true story), as the Grogan's increasingly nicer homes coincide with a better paycheck for each of them.
  • The two main characters in the fourth Final Destination film, an unmarried couple in college, live together in a very nice house with no mention of them having jobs or parents helping them out.


Literature

  • Elizabeth Wakefield's New York apartment in Sweet Valley Confidential is a good example, particularly since it seems to be combined with One-Hour Work Week and Unlimited Wardrobe.
  • The Dresden Files has the Carpenter family, which consists of seven children, their stay-at-home mother, and a father who works part-time as the fist of God and part-time as the owner/foreman of a small construction company. (It's explicitly stated in one of the short stories that Michael Carpenter refuses to cut corners and doesn't build large, lucrative homes.) They live in a large house in Chicago that is always in perfect repair, since Michael apparently has enough spare time between fighting evil and building middle-class houses to keep his own home and yard in fantastic shape, including upgraded doors, a panic room, new extensions as needed for a growing family, and a treehouse that's probably at least studio-apartment size. (It's possible that divine grace (or the Church) drops baskets full of money on a Knight of the Cross, though that doesn't explain why teenage runaway Molly Carpenter could afford a place to stay, along with several hundreds of dollars worth of tattoos and piercings, without access to her parent's money.)
    • Somewhat averted in the same series, as the main character lives in a cramped basement apartment, rents a small office for his business, and spends a few books worrying about how he'll pay rent.


Live Action TV

  • In Becker, Linda the brain dead bimbo nurse of Dr. Becker lives in a spacious flat that Becker is completely envious of. Though this is because her parents, who are extremely rich, pay for it. Becker himself has told her that he has the desire to murder her and live there, played for laughs.
  • Friends, the Trope Namer. Handwaved by Monica claiming that her place actually belongs to her grandmother: Monica is illegally subletting it. The superintendent is actually aware that Monica is breaking the law, and one episode centered on Joey trying to persuade him not to blow the whistle after his patience runs out. Chandler and Joey's apartment across the hall is an aversion, as Chandler has what is implied to be a high-paying white collar job which would allow him to support both himself and the frequently unemployed Joey. By the end of the series, all of the characters ended up with jobs that would have allowed them to afford the apartments outright.
    • This was Lampshaded by Chandler in the Grand Finale, by telling his newborn children of the apartment: "because of rent control, it was a friggin' steal."
  • Married... with Children. Al Bundy made minimum wage and was the only working member of the family, yet they lived in a decent-sized house in what appears to be in a fairly nice neighborhood in Chicago. It's also clean and tastefully decorated, making it a stretch for us to believe that the place is a dump. This being said, their neighbors tended to be obscenely rich.
  • Carrie from Sex and the City is an interesting example, as this depends on whether the episode in question depicts her as a nationwide sensation like the real Candace Bushnell or as another workaday columnist. If the latter is true, then it's unknown how she can afford her nice apartment and her extensive collection of shoes.
    • One episode lampshaded the trope. Carrie remarks to her screenwriter boyfriend-of-the-season that his TV script about a bunch of young actors living in a Manhattan penthouse is hardly realistic.
    • Another directly addresses this, apparently it was rent control. When Aidan buys her building and gives her the option of either buying the apartment or leaving, she starts to look at more believably-priced buildings (including one which apparently reeks because it's right above an Indian restaurant.) Apparently, the building was rent-controlled, she got the apartment, and the rents just kind of exploded around her.
    • The apartment her's is stated to be just sold for over 9.6 million.
  • Richie and Eddie from Bottom definitely are not Living in a Furniture Store: their residence is a gradually decaying first-floor walkup flat over a corner shop. And yet, although we occasionally meet the landlord, making the rent never seems to be an issue, despite the fact that our protagonists haven't held a steady job since 1979. They attempt to Hand Wave this away in an early episode by mentioning an aunt of Richie's who is the actual owner of the flat; said aunt, however, is never spoken of again.
  • The West Wing has perhaps the strangest variation on this. The show's sets include vast, opulently furnished rooms such as the Lobby, the Roosevelt Room, and the Mural Room. The real-life West Wing either doesn't have these at all, or has much smaller, shabbier versions, as you'd expect given that it's essentially a government office building. Part of what causes this dissonance is the desire to create a sense of constant activity within the White House, resulting in the TV version being more active than the real thing (as well as having many more pretty glass doors and windows to exhibit this activity).
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis and Mac live in a nice two-bedroom apartment with a leather couch, despite making less than they would on unemployment. Dee lives alone in a very nice apartment despite making even less than the bar owners. Dennis and Dee come from a wealthy family, however, though they're never seen to actually receive any financial support. Meanwhile, Charlie lives in abject squalor.
  • The Big Bang Theory looks like it follows this trope -- until you remember that it's set in the Los Angeles area instead of the Big Applesauce, and space is relatively easy to come by. In any event, Sheldon and Leonard could realistically afford their apartment with their combined income, and while Penny doesn't make as much as a full-time waitress and struggling "actress," she could probably afford her smaller apartment if she scrounges like she's shown doing on the show (plus her apartment is explicitly smaller). The building is also poorly maintained, and the elevator has been broken since the first episode.
    • It's definitely averted by now for Penny. She once had to borrow rent money from Sheldon who gave her the amount easily with no worries about how long she'd need to pay him back because he has plenty...and her red armchair was actually retrieved from a dump, she just cleaned it up. Leonard also once mentions lending her money for her rent, she once hid in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment to avoid the building manager, and her cable and electricity are both cut for not being paid.
  • Particularly Egregious in Heroes.
    • Mohinder is able to afford a huge apartment in Brooklyn working as a taxi driver, as was his dad. Apparently -- according to season 2, when Matt and Molly move in with him -- it was a three-bedroom, only one of which was occupied throughout season 1. We do, however, see Mohinder's family's Big Fancy House in India, implying that his family was wealthy.
    • They really draw attention to it in Peter's case: he gets a job as a nurse, throws a huge party in his new apartment, and everyone acts like it's tiny. Sure, his family's rich and they live in a mansion, but it's still a huge apartment by New York standards.
    • D.L. and Niki's house also qualifies. Their entire plot is kicked off by the fact that they can't afford the rent. But they live in a two-story house in the suburbs which is a little too big for three people, has a pool in the backyard and reflective surfaces on pretty much everything, and a PS3 inside. If only they'd moved into an apartment or sold something, they wouldn't have had to borrow money from the mob.
    • The Bennetts "go underground" by living in a massive house in a very wealthy neighborhood in Southern California. Noah's cover job is an entry-level position at a copy shop. Presumably he has a great deal of money from working with Primatech, but using it to live beyond his obvious means kind of defeats the purpose of going into hiding.
  • Played straight and averted on How I Met Your Mother:
    • The apartment where Ted, Marshall, and Lily live is incredibly spacious, especially considering that when the series began Marshall was an unemployed law student (although one who could have maxed out his student loans) and Lily didn't officially live there (and so probably wasn't chipping in on rent). Averted when Lily moves out and ends up living in a one room apartment so small that its Murphy bed can't even come down all the way.
    • Subverted with Marshall and Lily's new apartment. While it is large, it has one major flaw, it's actually built with a slight incline. More importantly, it's in the neighborhood Dowisetrepla: Downwind of thesewagetreatmentplant
    • Robin's old apartment is also pretty spacious considering she worked for the worst station in New York and had five dogs.
    • Lampshaded after Marshall and Lily spend some time in a spacious suburban home, and when they return to their apartment, it suddenly appears cramped and tiny in comparison. (This sets up a trope subversion for the rest of the show: We can now assume that all of the apartments are small, and only look big to people used to New York apartments.)
    • Averted with Barney, who has a huge, beautiful, spacy appartement in New York. But is very rich. Like, VERY rich, even though nobody knows what's his job.
  • Subverted in Scrubs. At first, Elliot lives in a quality apartment despite her low salary. It is later revealed that her rich father pays for all her expenses, and when she refuses to let him make decisions on her life, he cuts her off, forcing her to bunk with her friends or live in a U-Haul truck for an extended period. We do see the effects of this trope, however, when Carla thinks of JD and Turk's normal-sized apartment as "tiny."
  • Inverted in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, where the twins and their mother occupy a dwelling that looks more like an incredibly-cramped one bedroom apartment than a suite in a five-star hotel.
  • In Reaper, the guys move into a massive three bedroom apartment which cost them only $1,200 a month in rent. Despite Sock trying to Hand Wave it away by saying that he "got a great deal" and it "used to be a meth lab," it's obviously way over the minimum-wage group's income bracket. Especially considering the established gay couple living next door, who have obviously been there for ages, and the wonderful state of repair it is in. This is later justified when it is revealed that the Devil, Satan, Father of Lies, He Who Is Legion, the Beast Whose Number Is 666, happened to sign their lease as part of an Evil Plan to put down a demonic rebellion.
  • Explained in Flight of the Conchords: the landlord realises they've been paying rent in New Zealand dollars, not American dollars, and evicts them. The flat is dingy and also quite small: bathroom, living room and twin bedroom.
  • A non Sitcom example: Burn Notice generally avoids the trope, as it's a plot point how Michael's apartment is horrible despite the fact he could get a better one. It's not bad size-wise, but it's not actually rated as being a legitimate apartment as it has bare floors, a small kitchen area, a steel frame "second floor" and no room partitions (it seemed to have been mildly renovated from a storage site). It's also over a nightclub. Michael also apparently does "favors" for his landlord, further driving the price down. While Fiona might follow this trope with a waterside bungalow in Miami and no job (strictly speaking), her gun running and occasional bounty hunting jobs can help suspend disbelief.
  • Averting this trope sets the Backstory for Weeds. When Nancy's husband dies, forcing her back into the workforce, she realizes she can't possibly earn enough to keep her McMansion and the lifestyle it symbolizes. This provides Nancy's primary motivation to get into the marijuana trade.
    • In season 7 they move to New York and get a loft apartment even though everyone is unemployed. They are charged very little rent since the landlord cannot afford to finish remodeling the building and with the recession he can't sell the property. They can live there on the cheap as long they agree that the landlord takes no responsibility for any defects or broken utilities. A few episodes later they make enough money through illegal activities that it stops being an issue.
  • ICarly: The living room and dining room are somewhat realistic, but how many condos do you know that have a second and third floor and an elevator? It's also decked out with the latest technology.
    • That elevator might go a long way toward justifying it. It's frequently implied that the building they live in is a re-purposed warehouse or factory. If the elevator only opens up to those three floors and the lobby, the developers might have lumped together those three floors to avoid having someone hitting a wrong button and spilling out into a total stranger's apartment. As far as the fact that it has to be ridiculously expensive, if you combine their father's military salary, Spencer selling sculptures, and iCarly, being ad-supported (as ridiculously popular as it is in-universe, it's not implausible) it could be stretched to just this side of believable.
  • Speaking specifically of rent control, during the first season of Angel, Cordelia finds herself a sweet, roomy apartment that she can afford on a receptionist's salary. It's haunted. One of the ghosts tries to kill her, but the other is nice and is thus not exorcised. Phantom Dennis is referenced occasionally in future seasons.
    • It was also never explained how Angel could afford to live and keep an office in the building that he used for Season 1. The hotel used for Season 2 onwards however received two Handwaves on the subject: first a wealthy client who owed Angel Investigations a favour handled all of the paperwork on the matter, then Lilah (in order to piss off a co-worker) fabricated even more paperwork.
  • The Humphreys on Gossip Girl keep griping about how they are poor (at least in comparison to the rest of the cast) and how times are rough, which makes sense given that Rufus is the sole breadmaker and he owns a low key art gallery. Their loft, however, suggests that they are considerably more wealthy than Rufus' job would make them, and that they are far from as poor as they keep saying that they are.
  • In Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine have steady jobs, and Jerry's apartment is based heavily on his actual former apartment in the Upper West Side. George's living arrangements depend on his employment status, sometimes resulting in him having to live with his parents. As far as Kramer is concerned, no one has any idea how he can afford his apartment with no obvious source of income, but this was kind of a Running Gag throughout the series.
  • Subverted in an episode of Two and A Half Men where Charlie, who does make a lot of money in royalties from the nationally broadcast jingles and theme songs he writes, still gets in financial trouble by living beyond his means.
  • Averted in The Honeymooners. Ralph is a bus driver and Alice is a housewife. They live in a small, walk-up, cold-water apartment, and don't have a TV, a phone, a vacuum cleaner or a fridge. Some of this can be chalked down to the era in which they lived -- appliances could be expensive back then.
  • Averted in The Drew Carey Show where the set was modeled after the real house Drew's mother had in Cleveland. In-universe, meanwhile, it was explained by saying Drew bought the house from his parents when they moved out of state. Drew also may not have a particularly lucrative job, but it is middle-management of a department store (sort of, he's the Assistent to the non-existent Director of Personel, meaning he does all the work without getting the money).
    • This is easier to believe in Cleveland, as Midwestern cities have a much lower cost of living than the coasts.
  • Averted (mostly) in The Cosby Show. Supposedly the show was originally supposed to be about a working class family, but when someone saw the set they said that the Huxtable family would have to have better jobs to afford a house like that.
  • On Charmed, three twenty-something women (only two of whom have jobs) own a large three-story Victorian manor with a yard in San Francisco, a very dense urban area with some of the most expensive real estate in the country. The issue is supposedly handwaved that it has been in the family for generations and has been inherited, but the Halliwells would likely not be able to even afford the property tax on a home that would likely sell for at least $5 million, assuming it's not in wealthy or desirable part of town.
    • Not to mention the repeated damage the house takes due to their powers and/or monster attacks. (This could be explained by the fact that Leo has the ability to heal everything, including inanimate objects.)
    • By the fifth season, this house is home to Piper (who owns a club always on the brink of bankruptcy), Paige (who is unemployed), Phoebe (who is an advice columnist, Leo (who is technically dead, therefore not existing, yet still needs food and clothes) and Piper and Leo's son. WHAT?
    • The property tax aspect becomes more plausible when you know about [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_13_
  • In Drake and Josh, the family lives in a beautiful dwelling. But the father is only a weather man on the local news. And he does a lousy job of predicting the weather. As for the mother, we never even see her working.
  • Averted on The Wayans Bros: Shawn and Marlon live in a one bedroom apartment. Marlon sleeps on the couch while Shawn has the bedroom. It frequently looks messy, although the exterior shots show that they live in a decent-looking brownstone. They also constantly complain about rats and roaches.
  • Although not an apartment, Buffy and Willow's dorm room is rather large for a dorm housing incoming freshmen. It was even dubbed the "Largest Dorm Ever" by Television Without Pity.
    • Xander averted this in season four, living in his parents' basement and being charged rent while he went through a number of scut jobs. Then in season five he moves into an absurdly spacious apartment, with the Hand Wave that he had earlier been given a permanent job with a decent level of responsibility. Justified by season seven when he's in charge of a major project and frequently in suits to talk to clients.
  • The Young Ones: Four unemployed college students are renting a house in London. Averted somewhat by the implication that Mike is blackmailing their landlord into discounting their rent, the fact that said house is falling to pieces (their first house is condemned and demolished at the end of the first episode), and the fact that all UK higher education students at the time had their college fees paid by the state, and got a means-tested grant to cover subsistence and accommodation, plus Housing Benefit to top up any shortfall.
  • Gilmore Girls is a borderline example. Lorelai and Rory live in a lavishly furnished two-story house in rural Connecticut, far larger than is practical for a single mother and her teenage daughter. She lives there on the salary of a bed-and-breakfast manager, a job she earned working up from being a maid after being a teenage mother at sixteen. It's a plot point that Lorelai saved up for years to afford the house, which isn't in the best condition. For the bulk of Rory's childhood, they lived rent-free in a converted shack behind the inn.
  • It would probably be easier to list the German TV shows where this isn't the case. Apparently, even struggling freelancers and single mothers can afford six-room-apartments in renovated old buildings. Changed only in recent years in that nowadays, they often live in ex-factory lofts instead (which tend to be even bigger). Yes, in former East Germany rents are lower, but not that low.
    • Then again rent is not nearly as much an expense in, say, Hamburg as it is in New York and Germany is almost a socialist country by American ultra-capitalist standards so the state will sometimes chip-in on rent if you are entitled to it.
      • But not on a six-bedroom-apartment - if you want support from the state, you'll have to move to a home acceptable to the welfare officials.
  • In The Brady Bunch, even if he did design their house himself, it's hard to grasp how Mike Brady could've single-handedly supported a stay-at-home wife, six kids, a full-time housekeeper, and (at times) a dog, cat, and/or stray nephew as well as he did, all on a staff architect's salary.
    • The early 1970s was the tail end of the era single-income family, and "staff architect" was considered a well-paying Upper Middle Class job. The Bradys' lifestyle wasn't out of bounds for the era, and the Brady homestead was a fairly typical Southern California Suburban Tract Home of the time. It should also be noted that those six kids shared two bedrooms and a single bath between them, which was hardly luxurious in that time and place.
  • On The Secret Life of the American Teenager, everyone's houses and apartments are very nice and wonderfully decorated, despite everyone having various jobs that should create economic differences between them. Ricky's apartment gets a pass because it used to belong to Leo's wealthy parents. A few headscratchers in particular are Adrian and her mom having an upscale apartment in season one , even though they were supposed to be kinda poor. Daniel and his friends also manage to have lavish apartments, despite being college students.
    • With the latter, it's been implied that the apartments are owned by the college, which could mean a lower, affordable rate. Still, college apartments in general are usually nowhere near as nice as Daniel's place.
  • Averted in 7th Heaven. In the pilot episode, it's stated that the house was left to the church by a wealthy parishoner in her will, with the condition that it was for the purpose of housing the church's pastor and his family.
  • The King of Queens. Doug is a package delivery man and Carrie is a legal secretary, yet they can afford a detached, two-story house in Queens while supporting Carrie's elderly father and paying for a car, big-screen television, daily dog walker and other luxuries. Granted, Doug's job is unionized, big-firm legal secretaries do pretty well, and Queens is not Manhattan. Still, it is New York City with the related real estate prices, taxes and insurance rates.
  • Long-running Australian soap Home and Away has many examples, mostly teen characters set up in their own living spaces but with no job or income to support them.
  • Degrassi: The apartment that Ellie, Marco, Paige, and Alex (replaced with Griffin later on) shared looked a little more spacious than what four college students could realistically afford.
  • Subverted in El Chavo Del Ocho. Don Ramon and La Chilindrina live in a one-bedroom apartment in a low-rent neighborhood. However, given that Don Ramon does not work often, he should still not be able to afford it. Senor Barriga forgives his rent often.
  • On That Girl, Ann Marie is a struggling actress, auditioning for bit parts and taking various one-off temp jobs on the side, and yet she can afford a spacious, groovily decorated bachelorette pad inhe middle of Manhattan.
  • In Castle, averted and played straight. Castle, being a famous bestselling author of over 20 novels as well as being well-known in New York's elite and upper-class circles, can easily afford his spacious penthouse. On the other hand, Beckett's apartment would break the wallet of a police detective, and this was before it got blown up. Her new place as of Season 4 is even more extravagant.
  • Parodied on 3rd Rock from the Sun when August is planning her future with Tommy:

 August: We could move to New York and rent a loft in the Village with a view of the river. It'll probably cost about... three hundred bucks a month. But, you know, that's okay -- we'll find jobs in book stores.

    • Averted entirely by the cramped attic rented by the four protagonists throughout the run of the series. Harry's "bedroom" is essentially a closet under the stairs, much like that of a later Harry.
      • Harry's "bedroom" was actually him just sleeping on top of the washer and dryer behind the kitchen.
  • Perfect Strangers: A photographer, a mailroom clerk/cartoonist, and two flight attendants couldn't possibly have afforded a big Victorian house in Chicago's Old Town neighbourhood.
  • The IT Crowd avoids the trope entirely with Roy's hilariously tiny flat. It's so small that Roy and Moss cannot sit further than three feet away from the flatscreen television they are watching. Moss, meanwhile, lives with his mother. Roy does get a much nicer flat later on though.
  • The newer Bionic Woman is a struggling bartender raising her teenage sister by herself. She also lives in a San Francisco apartment that would strain the resources of anyone making less then seven figures, much less five.
  • The Vampire Diaries. Matt Donovan seems to be able to keep himself afloat despite his only source of income being a part time job at the Mystic Grill. One could also wonder how Alaric Saltzman is able to live in such a swanky apartment on a teacher's salary. Or how Elena and Jeremy manage to live comfortably despite all of their caretakers being dead.
  • Not as bad as some examples, but Max and Caroline of Two Broke Girls should not be able to afford a place that large in Brooklyn, even with both their income going toward rent. How Max used to afford living there all by herself is anybody's guess.
  • Played with on New Girl. The three guys live in an extremely spacious apartment even though Nick works as a bartender and has almost no money and Winston is unemployed. Schmidt, however, makes a lot of money at his job and is implied to cover the bulk of rent, while Jess likely covers some Rent as well and the apartment has quite a few defects and a landlord who isn't entirely sane. It also bears mentioning that it is in Los Angeles, not NYC, where property is more affordable.
  • Averted naturally on The Wire. Mc Nulty lives in a very small, one room apartment in a working class neighborhood that a Baltimore Detective paying alimony could realistically afford.
  • Subverted in My Name Is Earl. Even with his lottery winnings, Earl and Randy still live in a cheap, rundown motel. Before that, They lived in a trailer which Joy and Darnell now own. When Earl gets job, He and Randy have fairly modest apartment (One that a salesmen with pre-existing funds could afford in a non-competitive property market).
  • Initially averted in CHiPs when Ponch lived at a mobile home in a trailer park. Later played straight when he moved into a fancy apartment by the marina. It makes you wonder if he was on the take.
  • Full House: Some found it unrealistic that Danny could have afforded what was obviously a very nice, very big town house in a presumably equally very nice section of San Francisco on a TV morning show host's salary, as well as support three young children. There's never any mention of Joey or Jesse paying him rent (not that they could have, given how sporadic their employment was for the first few seasons of the show).


Video Games

  • Fahrenheit (2005 video game) has several examples, being set in New York City and featuring many elegant apartments, but Lucas Kane's is the most egregious. He has an almost ludicrously-sized apartment in the middle of Manhattan, made even more ridiculous by the tiny, run-down appearance of the access hallway inside his building. Either Lucas has the only penthouse apartment in the building, or parts of his kitchen and bedroom reside in alternate dimensions, because the doors in the hallway are set far too close together to accommodate Lucas' luxurious living room. All this, on a mid-level IT manager's salary.
  • Spiritual Sequel Heavy Rain has the same problem with the apartments that are owned by Ethan (who's supposed to be a divorce dad falling on hard times) and Madison (a reporter who doesn't even seem to be working for one particular newspaper)--they're both absurdly spacious, though at least Ethan's apartment is bare. On the other hand, there was also Ethan's Pre-Tragedy Idyllic IKEA House...
    • Ethan lives in a house even after he's divorced. Except in his happier endings, when he's living on the aforementioned Lucas Kane's apartment.
  • All of the safehouses used by Mike in Alpha Protocol are fairly expansive penthouses, save for the one in Taipei, which is a tiny, crappy apartment - until Mike uses the shower, which takes him downstairs into an Elaborate Underground Base that looks more like an intelligence command center than a safehouse, complete with a secret tunnel leading aboveground for his motorcycle. This is explained as part of the Alpha Protocol program, where agents establish safehouses using their own money and established bank accounts (and most of the resources used are not actually known by the agency to avoid tracing it back to Alpha Protocol - yay compartmentalizing!) Mike tends to lampshade this, pointing out in Moscow how he appreciates where government spending is going while chilling in his massive, chic and ultramodern penthouse.


Web Comics

  • Living with Insanity was like this for a while until it was eventually commented on..
  • Occurs (but is Lampshaded at least once) in Questionable Content -- Martin, Dora, and Faye live in an enormous and gorgeous apartment, despite the fact that Marten works at a library for a small college, Dora owns a coffee shop she continuously has trouble keeping afloat, and Faye works for Dora as a barista at the coffee shop.
-Faye: C'mon, at least lemme break one of (Dora's) arms...
Marten: No, because then she'd fire you and I'd have to pay the rent on this place all on my own.
    • Housing in Western Massachusetts is rather less expensive than in urban East Coast areas like Boston or New York, even if it still comes across as expensive compared to the South, Midwest or Western part of the country. Three people working, even at low-wage jobs, and budgeting carefully or scoring lots of their stuff for free off what college kids throw away (easy to do in Amherst or Northampton) can and have afforded pretty decent apartments there before.
  • Subverted in Rhapsodies. Kate, Paul and Brian live in an apartment across the street from a popular park, owned by Brian's parents. However, the three units surrounding Brian's apartment are almost unrentable so his parents are virtually giving them away at slum rates.
  • Justified in SSDD as Richard is actually the landlord and willing to give his friends a lot of leeway when it comes to rent (Norman helps him shake up the tenants in his other properties, Kingston often pays in dope, and Anne sleeps with him). Neither is he above threatening to chuck Kingston or even Norman out if they really try his patience.


Web Original

  '90s Kid: Oh, that's probably my land lord with another eviction note [Crashing sound] And a battering ram. [[[Dramatic Gun Cock]]] And a sawed-off shotgun...


Western Animation

  • The Simpsons live in a very large, four or five bedroom house despite Homer being the only breadwinner (and being somewhat, ahem, unreliable when it comes to spending money), though it was once explained by Grandpa Simpson selling his house to help Homer and Marge buy theirs. Some episodes draw attention to it though.
    • Lampshaded in "Homer's Enemy":

 Frank Grimes: [in awe] Good Heavens! This is a palace! H-How can, how in the world can you afford to live in a house like this, Simpson?

Homer: I dunno. Don't ask me how the economy works.

    • Further lampshaded in "Kill Gil: Volumes 1 and 2", where Homer says, "I make six [thousand dollars] a year"; and in "Father Knows Worst," where he says, "[One thousand dollars is] how much my house is worth!"
    • Of course, an engineer at a Real Life nuclear power plant working for someone other than Montgomery Burns would be earning serious money.
  • Parodied in Futurama. Leela is watching "Real World: The Sun" (which apparently consists of footage of people screaming as they immolate), and is disgusted by how expensive the set would be.

 "Do you know how much an apartment that big would cost on the sun?"

    • Also averted when Fry and Bender briefly move into a massive apartment, which is mentioned as being rent controlled and belonging to a late friend of the professor's.
  • In Family Guy, Peter is the only one employed in the family, as a below management level employee at a toy factory, yet they live in a nice house. In addition he manages to spend all kinds of money on stuff, which was lampshaded in Peter's use of the "Peter-Copter" and the "Hindenpeter" which damage Joe's house and property, prompting Joe to wail incredulously, "How can you afford these things?!!" The episode "Emission Impossible" explained how: Lois and Peter won a lawsuit against a condom company after Lois' pregnancy with Chris due to a broken condom. That lawsuit allowed the Griffins to buy their lovable, size-changing house on Spooner Street. Lois is also not above the occasional Five-Finger Discount or accepting money from her obscenely rich father.
  • Darkwing Duck lived in a two story home despite not even having any sort of job outside of his crime fighting. This was finally explained in the 2010 comics, where it's revealed that SHUSH paid him for his services.
  • Likewise, the eponymous character on Jimmy Two-Shoes lives on his own without a job. One episode centered around him having to take a job to pay for some frivolous purchases, but he never has problems basic living.
  • Parodied in The Critic. Doris owns a huge, spartan apartment in New York City - and only pays $150 thanks to rent control. She tells Jay - without turning around - to put the candlestick down, knowing he wanted to club her to take over her rent controlled apartment.
    • Truth in Television: There are some apartments in Mannhattan with ridiculously low rents, even as low as $150, thanks to rent control. A good chunk of them are in upper Manhattan, though, and often date back to the 1940's.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: The Justice Friends (Major Glory, Val Hallen and Krunk) live at an apartment they rent. It's revealed in one episode that Val Hallen got the largest room (well, less "room" and more "pocket dimension containing the full glory and splendour of VALHALLA ITSELF") and pays a bigger share of the rent than the others because of this. It's never stated how much each Justice Friend pays.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.