Who hasn't been put off at least momentarily, after hearing an old roommate just purchased a 5BR house in the 'burbs? When a few years ago, his or her assets consisted of the crappy TV you're still watching and a couch you wish they'd taken with them when they left. You're sure he hasn't stumbled onto a highly lucrative cure for toe-stubbing in the dark, so what happened? Short answer: he or she moved out of NYC.

The city can be your best friend, but also a free-loading companion who will suck your wallet dry. Above is a chart about what it takes to live at the same level of comfort as a New Yorker living in Manhattan making $100,000 a year. It was derived from a online calculator that determined the differences based on the costs of housing, transportation, food, and health care. [Somewhat related: Last week's New Yorker article about commuting: "Commuter-wise, New York City is an anomaly. New Yorkers have the highest average journey-to-work times (thirty-nine minutes) of any city in the country, but are apparently much happier with their commutes than people are elsewhere."]

PARADE has an interesting hourly wage comparison device that is more annoying than helpful. Unless you care to be informed that your labor is worth less than 1/10th of a penny for every $1 that Adam Sandler earns.