Why I Live In The Suburbs

Wealthy Manhattanites are clamoring for a new status symbol: their own washer and dryer!

Wealthy Manhattanites are clamoring for a new status symbol:  their own washer and dryer!

For most people in the city, getting the laundry done will mean lugging it to a wash-and-fold service or taking it to the machines in the basement with a stack of quarters in hand.

But a growing number of New Yorkers can give the holiday linens a hot bath at home in their own washers and dryers. This staple of the suburbs remains uncommon in the city — apartments that have washers and dryers make up only about 20 percent of the sales and rental listings in Manhattan, according to StreetEasy, the real estate Web site. But demand is increasing, Condominium developers are making these appliances part of the standard package, and older buildings — even prewars — are relaxing longtime bans to keep residents happy and to avoid scaring off buyers.


“It is the ultimate convenience,” said Doug Steinberg, whose one-bedroom condo, at 315 Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, is now on the market for $739,000. The apartment, No. 7B, has its own laundry tucked behind a louvered door, with shelves for detergent and towels.

Growing up in a lower middle class family, we had our own washer and dryer from the earliest days I can remember — going back over four decades.  The only exceptions were two stints in Germany (once as a kid from 1977-79 and again as a young Army officer from 1989-92) and my graduate student apartment (directly across the street from the Section 8 housing).   It’s just inconceivable that I’d live in a place costing nearly three quarters of a million dollars and take my clothes to the laundromat.

There are, of course, enormous benefits to living in the great cities.  But they come with incredibly steep tradeoffs, simply because space is at such a premium.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jay says:

    The first washer I remember us having when I was a kid was one of those antique tub washers with a wooden wringer. I believe it started out as my grandmother’s. She and my grandfather originally owned the house, and still lived on the 2nd floor after my parents took it over in 1963. When we looked for apartments, washer and dryer hookups were mandatory. Here the dream is to have them in the apartment proper, rather than in the cellar. But that’s been rare in houses around here until recently. So much more convenient to have them on the main floor of the house. But I digress.

  2. sam says:

    I dunno. A laundromat is cheaper than a dating bar…

  3. Dave says:

    If you live in an apartment costing $750,000 you’re not bringing your laundry anywhere; you’re paying the $30 per week for someone to come grab it, wash it, fold it, then bring it back to you.

  4. The title to your post was pretty much my exact reaction when I read the story (and almost blogged it).

  5. tom p says:

    “I dunno. A laundromat is cheaper than a dating bar…”

    It wasn’t for me… That’s where I met my ex!

  6. DC Loser says:

    I dunno. I grew up in the outer boroughs of NYC and except for one house we owned, all the washing had to be lugged to the basement or a laundromat. It was no big deal. While it’s nice having your own washer and dryer, it’s certainly nothing to obsess about. You know you give up some things by living in the city and receive other benefits.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @DCL: Agree that there are tradeoffs but, yeesh, going to the laundromat vice another room in the house is a big one. Especially once kids come along, geometrically increasing the amount of laundry to be done.

  8. @DCL: The important point is that they are trade-offs. To some people they’re worth it. To others they simply aren’t. I’m with James: It’s a trade-off I just wouldn’t be willing to make unless it pushed me into an income space where I could easily afford the kind of service that Dave mentions. Having lived in places with my own washer and dryer and lived in places where I’ve had to use the laundromat, it’s truly amazing how much extra time the laundromat eats up – even when it’s in the same complex as the apartment.

  9. JKB says:

    The cities are for the wealthy. At least, those with disposable income enough to pay for their laundry service. Even then having a washer and dryer right on hand is still a great boon for time savings as well as a reduction in the amount of clothing required. Being able to pick up, wash and hang laundry using only the actual time of handling is very convenient, especially for families.

    Sure their are tradeoffs to living urban. Mostly it involves coughing up cash for things handled by oneself outside the city. So those short on cash tend to suffer. It is quite common knowledge that a rural or suburban poor person can live quite relatively well compared to their urban counterpart with more space and home grown food augmentation.