How to put money to work... for me?
June 18, 2012 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Given plenty of money, how would you improve your life in New York City?

My income has increased a lot in the last few years. As a result, while I'm not rich enough to live on Central Park West or anything, I have a lot more money than I'm used to. I grew up in a middle-class family and I'm very frugal by nature.

I want to apply some of that money to improve my quality of life. I've been in NYC for 8 years. I've acclimated, but I still find it very stressful and tiring here. It's all the usual objections about crowding, sweat, garbage...

Already done:
(1) Own a nice home, with nobody above or below, in a quiet, fun, inner-city outer-borough neighborhood with good subway access. (One thing I don't want to do is move into Manhattan.)
(2) Have a (modest) car for leisure trips, and a garage.
(3) Donate to charity.
(4) Take a cab when it will make my life significantly easier.

How would you spend money to make life in NYC more tolerable?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Install a washer/dryer in my house. Install a dishwasher in my house. Hire a regular cleaning service.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:23 AM on June 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

Sweat? Central air.

And have groceries delivered instead of shlepping them home.
posted by telegraph at 6:27 AM on June 18, 2012

I'd eat good food, drink good alcohol, ride a good bike, and not work 5 days a week.
posted by entropone at 6:31 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best noise-canceling headphones money can buy.
posted by anderjen at 6:31 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

If I were in such a position, I would buy a modest weekend getaway home a few hours upstate. I would dread the weekend traffic, but I'd be compensated by the time spent away from the rat race. I know people who've gotten some very affordable deals on places, but it still might be more than you're looking to blow.

Another idea: I take classes at 3rd Ward and that seems to help me take the edge off the city. If I had a bit more money to throw at it, I might pay for an upper-tier membership so I could take tons of classes and stuff. The fact that you can take classes in practically anything in this city is one of the things that makes it awesome, but they're always expensive.

Golf? Time spent outdoors is precious in NYC. Golf is a sweet excuse to get fresh air. I say this as a very shitty golfer.
posted by etc. at 6:32 AM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Get a pilot's license and a plane so that you can spend weekends wherever the hell you want?
posted by XMLicious at 6:32 AM on June 18, 2012

Have someone clean your house regularly.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:32 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a regular cleaning service is awesome.

An Amazon Prime account has taken a lot of the stress out of buying shit that I really don't need to see in person. No more lugging around giant on-sale bottles of shampoo and Tide from the CVS! I've heard people say the same thing about FreshDirect, if you don't live near good grocery stores. Also, if you're in that situation and you have a car, a CostCo card could come into use as well.

I recently bought a particularly nice garbage can. I don't know if you have a nice garbage can or a shitty garbage can, but a nice one can make time spent in your necessarily tiny kitchen less arduous.
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since the city can feel tiring and overwhelming, would you want to shell out for a personal trainer in Central Park or another relaxed, outdoor setting?

(I visited NYC for one day in college and was way overwhelmed and just wanted to hang out in Central Park the whole time.)
posted by shortyJBot at 6:33 AM on June 18, 2012

Memberships at cultural institutions you enjoy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would sponsor something I like to do or see, become a patron of the arts as it were. It encourages people to create and makes the environment I live in better for not just me, but for the community. Maybe you love theater or live comedy or some other art that can only fully exist if there is funding for it. It's not quite charity, but it is worthwhile.
posted by inturnaround at 6:40 AM on June 18, 2012

Continue to be frugal but use your powerful earning ability to work less so you can enjoy more leisure/hobby time. If you made half as much money working half as much, how much would your life improve? For example, if you worked T,W,R you could have a four day weekend every week -- think of the "weekend getaways" you could have if you weren't always worrying about getting there or getting back and fighting the traffic.

If you enjoy your job but just seem to have too much money, even after you've dealt with the mundanities like housecleaning services, personal accountants and so on -- then yeah, perhaps it's time to do some vicarious living by sponsoring something worthwhile.

Or just start socking it away into a career-change fund. Perhaps you want to do the hobby farm thing, or become an artist, or whatever.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:50 AM on June 18, 2012

Perhaps you could join some sort of exclusive club? A health club, a dinner club. Something fancy and quiet that could be a repose from the loud city.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:59 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would agree that the ability to get out of NYC regularly is a key to enjoying NYC. We go up to Columbia county, but that is pretty quiet if you are not part of a couple.
posted by shothotbot at 7:06 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

^yeah. Buy a tiny little getaway house somewhere in Dutchess County. Somewhere you could take the train + bike to. That would be tip top.
posted by entropone at 7:10 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Personal trainer, definitely.
posted by pete_22 at 7:11 AM on June 18, 2012

Season tickets to the Opera, Ballet and Phil.

Weekends somewhere on the south shore of Long Island. (I'm biased, I live in Long Beach.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:20 AM on June 18, 2012

Plus your standard better food/clothing/tickets/etc:

More and better furnishings. This seems frivolous but it really makes a difference when your apartment/room still looks like a just-out-of-college sublet situation.
posted by dekathelon at 7:24 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is one true perfect slice of luxury in Manhattan: Be able to walk to work.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

thinkpiece: "There is one true perfect slice of luxury in Manhattan: Be able to walk to work."

As someone who has to be at work at 630am, this is very true, and I absolutely LOVE my 14 minute walk to and from work. However, OP said they don't want to move into Manhattan, so I guess that's out. I'd definitely 2nd the washer/drier/dishwasher suggestions if you don't have them already (IN the apt, not just in the building, or better yet, just send out all your laundry all the time!). And a cleaning service is a great idea, too.
posted by Grither at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2012

Hard question, since I already live on the UWS and see Broadway shows for free. I guess my answer would be to get a larger apartment. Our 1BR is nice, but we have a hotel kitchen, and I really like to cook.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:45 AM on June 18, 2012

1. If you don't already have a washer and dryer in your home, hire a laundry delivery service that comes to your home, picks up your laundry twice a week, and returns it clean.

2. Cleaning service has already been mentioned, seconding this.

3. You said crowding, sweat, and garbage are major factors here. You said you live in one of the outer boroughs, but with good subway access. Are you married to using the subway for regular commute? Someone I knew once had a mindblowing improvement to quality of life simply through arranging to have a car pick him up regularly for work.

4. Buy a membership in a private beach club. They have some great ones in the Rockaways. This way, when things are too hot, without leaving the city, you can go to a beach that has the magic of space - no crowding, with all your conveniences stored so you don't even have to bother putting them in the car to transport them (and you can have a refrigerator to keep drinks and food cold.)

5. Seconding a personal trainer - so you can still keep in shape while avoiding crowds.
posted by corb at 9:03 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you don't already have a Fresh Direct account, set one up, and then fill your kitchen with delicious produce and meats and cheeses that keep much better than what you'd get from the grocery store. We don't have a ton of cash, but my household does Fresh Direct anyway because it so drastically improves the quality of our meals and our food-purchasing-related stress levels.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

How much richer is "rich".

One thing I don't want to do is move into Manhattan.)

Don't move. Rent a (furnished & regularly cleaned & doorman'd?) pied-a-terre near work. A simple studio, where if you want to stay there after a long day/big night in the city, you can. You can also offer it to friends. That'll take care of between 1.5-4.5k per month for you.....
posted by lalochezia at 10:04 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Enroll in/pay for Long-term Disability Insurance. Seriously, it's piece of mind and reduced anxiety that if something happens your income (and standard of living) won't go *poof.*

Beyond that, perhaps:
> Summer rental share to relax
> Grocery delivery to save you time and hassle
> Weekly cleaning person
> Personal trainer
posted by donovan at 12:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go to nice grocery stores (citarella, whole foods, whatever) and pay whatever they charge to get exactly the groceries you want.
Order seamlessweb whenever you don't feel like cooking.
Go out to nice restaurants just because you live in NYC and you can.
Don't worry about finding deals, shop boutiques in your general price range and pay for stuff that you really like without it being on sale.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:31 PM on June 18, 2012

Don't just consume -- invest, but in something fun. Become partners in a bar or restaurant or off-off-Broadway musical. Be an angel equity investor to somebody doing a cool tech project. Find a couple undiscovered artists and start to buy their canvases.
posted by MattD at 7:01 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Learn to sail.

The skyline is phenomenal from the water.
posted by slateyness at 7:42 PM on June 18, 2012

« Older How to get a dispassionate appraisal of what a...   |   Show a couple of greenhorns a good time at... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.