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“Friends” Rent Control
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 apartments. 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.
Rent control means that a landlord can only raise a tenant’s rent by a certain percentage each year, making it possible for long-term residents to continue paying low rents while the neighborhood around them gentrifies. Illegal subletting may be involved if the renter has only lived there a short time.
The most obvious cause of the trope is that larger sets are easier to film in. Even if the home is supposed to look relatively run-down or poor, it’s a nightmare to block out scenes where characters are practically on top of each other and get in each other’s way when they move around. Larger sets also let you break up the action into multiple locations, allowing for concurrent scenes and conversations within the same area.
However, not all large homes are necessarily examples of the trope. There are numerous mitigating factors that may justify why the characters’ can afford such a large home:
Geographic location. To use the United States as an example, Americans on average have the largest homes in the world at every income level. If the characters are explicitly poor, their home may look too big to viewers elsewhere even if it’s actually realistic. And there’s plenty of variance within the country as well; a two-bedroom apartment in a middle-class neighborhood in Dallas would cost less than half of what you’d pay for something similar in Los Angeles note Inland cities in the US tend to have a much lower cost of living than the coasts , and if you don’t live in a major city, prices can drop even further, meaning it can very well be possible for someone to afford a spacious house or apartment on a modest income.
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. Related to Informed Poverty, where characters who are supposed to be suffering financially seem to live very well. Contrast Horrible Housing, where a character with little money lives somewhere crappy.
- In Absolutely Rose Street, the main characters are supposed to be a couple of 20-somethings barely keeping afloat yet they live in a spacious southern California house (or at minimum, a very large basement).
- Sailor Moon:
- In the first anime, Sailor Moon’s household, in the particularly expensive Tokyo district of Juubangai, is kept afloat by 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).
- Another baffling example 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 Detective School Q, it’s not clear if Kyu’s mom actually has a job, but she can afford a house in Tokyo.
- In Pokémon, one has to wonder how Delia Ketchum affords her house, considering that she doesn’t seem to work (except in Takeshi Shudō’s novelization, where it’s explained that she runs Pallet Town’s only restaurant, Pallet House, which she inherited from her mother) and she has no husband. Mr. Mime, doing all the household chores. Granted, perhaps the Pokemon regions have different economic policies.
- Ah! My Goddess played with this in case of Keiichi, 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 Buddhist temple 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 the 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.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica seems to enjoy toying with this. It helps that the characters who live alone don’t require things like food or heat to survive. Mami, Homura, and Kyoko are 15-year old girls who live alone in a fairly large Japanese city with no income, yet they can each afford their own homes. Homura owns a large apartment in a European-styled building with modern furniture and holographic displays, though odds are she steals things to afford it (or stole the apartment itself), given that’s how she gets her weapons . Kyoko is shown in nice rooms, but she’s homeless, and the nice rooms are hotel rooms she gets into . Mami’s apartment is an aversion at first; it is rather large, yet barren and spartan, with cheap furnishings that reasonably fit with her means. However, this realism was a byproduct of the animation budget running out. The Blu-Ray version fills her house with all sorts of things that she could never afford, planting it firmly into this trope.
- The main character’s no exception. Madoka’s dad is a househusband, she has a baby brother and her mom is a realistically alcoholic business woman. Even if she makes a ton, it can’t be enough to afford the Kanames’ large, custom-built, ultramodern house in the Mitakihara suburbs. Which amusingly is the case, as Word of God stated that Madoka’s family got the house build by a friend who works in the construction industry.
- Digimon Tamers is notable for avoiding this trope most of the time, but Jenrya/Henry’s house is a little harder to justify; he has a bunch of siblings and his parents jobs (never explicitly explained, though Word of God states they are a computer programmer and a graphic designer, respectively) dont seem like they would be able to afford the enormous apartment he lives in.
- The Tendo Dojo in Ranma ½ is a traditional Japanese compound with four bedrooms, two guestrooms, a large tearoom, and a large freestanding dojo, all surrounded by a an expansive walled garden including The Thing That Goes “Doink”. It’s all a bit much for a self-employed martial artist supporting three daughters and three freeloaders. While it’s reasonable to assume that a traditional dojo would have rooms to house students, Mr. Tendo doesn’t appear to have any students, other than Akane (daughter) and Ranma (freeloader).
- Played with in Love Hina, where none of the girls appear to be employed and, aside from Naru and Shinobu, none of whom have any source of family income. And somehow they all make rent, something that is referenced once or twice throughout the series.
- The Hyoudou residence in High School DxD starts out reasonable, being a two-story family home with both parents implied to work. It then starts to push it when Asia and then Rias move in, revealing it has at least two spare bedrooms. After the rest of Issei’s Battle Harem moves in and Rias has the house renovated into a six-story, three-basement estate, the only explanation for Issei’s parents not having to pay outrageous property tax (not to mention violating zoning laws) is Rias’ magic.
- Averted with the club members who don’t live with Issei, however. Kiba and Gaspar are mentioned to live in an apartment complex nearby on Rias’ dime, and she could easily afford that.
- Both averted and justified in Noir, where Mireille Bouquet’s Parisian apartment is one large room with a divider between the living room/office (where a pool table doubles as a desk) and the bedroom with a galley kitchen and small bathroom. Yet Mireille comes from an extremely wealthy Corsican family and is the sole survivor besides her Uncle Claude, who lives in a mansion and himself dies during the course of the series, presumably leaving his assets to her , so if anything she’s likely living below her means. And that’s just going off what she’s inherited, since she also works as what’s implied to be a high priced assassin and takes a number of lucrative jobs over the course of the series, so she doesn’t ever appear to be worried about money.
- The Sakamoto household in Family Complex lives in a luxurious two-story residence (a rarity in Japan) despite having four children, all of whom attend prestigious schools, and only one breadwinner who works as “a simple construction worker”. Lampshaded in the Sequel Series, Princess Princess, where Tohru and Yuujirou asks Akira if his family is wealthy when they visit his house.
- Played with in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in that rent isn’t the issue (as a senior programmer, Kobayashi makes more than enough to afford a 3 bedroom apartment). No, the real problem is her utilities bill, since Kanna and Ilulu both regularly consume massive amounts of electricity to recharge their mana (it’s eventually revealed that Tohru uses her naturally produced mana to supplement them).
- In Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online, Karen’s apartment is highly spacious, and there’s a good reason for that- it’s a luxury apartment. Her parents are quite wealthy, enough to afford to put her up in that apartment while she’s attending college, and for her to fly back home in first class.
- In Tiger & Bunny Kotetsu lives alone in a massive two story apartment, in the middle of a No Communities Were Harmed version of New York City, despite not making very much money as a hero and helping to support his mother and daughter out in the country.
- In Circles, Englishman Paulie inherited a fabulous Boston mansion from his American aunt, then converted it to four spacious apartments.
- 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.
- Averted in the MAD parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy rejects a vampire’s offer of immortality through vampirism because she and her mother don’t live in a rent-controlled apartment, and there’s no telling how high the rent will be in the future.
- In Notting Hill Will works in a small bookshop but lives in a large house, in an expensive area of London, shared with an apparently unemployed room-mate.
- 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.” The villain as well, who is able to afford a house in the same neighborhood while working as a beat cop, with the additional burden of two children and a deceased spouse. Even with him mentioning “working my ass off, saving every dime”, it’s too implausible — unless one assumes his late wife’s insurance helped.
- Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby is a struggling actor note Guy has done several commercials, one of which is still airing on TV, and those tend to pay very well so they could be getting continuous royalties from those commercials. , 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. Although the Satanic coven might have something to do with it!
- Sleeping with the Enemy: Laura is able to rent, fix up, and maintain a HUGE, beautiful home, despite only having worked 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, one of the cheapest housing markets in the country, that’s quite a stretch. As well as that she’s able to afford plenty of luxuries like brand name products. The book is only slightly better — Sara/Laura paid a month’s rent for one floor of a house in advance but then had to live on beans and apples for two weeks until her job (which came out of nowhere and paid very well, not to mention paid in advance) started. The rent was supposed to be “cut” because Laura was willing to paint, but it couldn’t have been cut that much; painting is a one-time expense. So the real question is why she fled her husband after months of planning without even enough money to pay for a month’s expenses, knowing she’d have to be exceptionally lucky to land a job that doesn’t require an identity.
- Charlie from So I Married an Axe Murderer maintains a very nice, roomy apartment in San Francisco despite seemingly having no other job apart from working as a beat poet, something that’s hard to get paid for at all, let alone paid enough to make rent in San Fran. His love interest Harriet and her sister live in a positively huge loft, but since Harriet’s the only person we ever see behind the counter in there, it’s possible she owns the butcher shop where she works (by that same token, it’s vaguely suggested in a throwaway line that Charlie may own the coffeehouse where he performs, but neither is explicitly spelled out).
- The title characters in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion live in a spacious, loft-style apartment steps away from Venice Beach, which would be one of the most expensive apartments in Los Angeles, renting for around $7,000 a month in 2015 dollars, despite Romy working as a cashier at a car dealership and Michele being unemployed.
- The two main characters in Final Destination 4, an unmarried couple in college, live together in a very nice house with no mention of them having jobs or parents helping them out.
- The family in Soul Surfer live in a very nice house, with no mention of what either parent’s job is. And if the mother is homeschooling the children, she might very well not be working at all.
- Nobody’s sure how Bud and Doyle, the two male leads of Bio-Dome, are able to afford their nice house, despite being a) terminally lazy, b) terminally stupid, and c) the #1 cause of damage to any structure unfortunate enough to contain them.
- Dana, the leading lady of Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II, lives alone with baby Oscar in a spacious corner apartment in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. This would literally be one of the most expensive apartments in the country. As a cellist for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, she would earn around $80,000 a year when the film was set. The filmmakers could have easily given her a nice apartment in her price range, instead of putting her in a penthouse worth millions in the real world. On the other hand, being designed and constructed by a doomsday cult for the purposes of their Eldritch Abomination summoning cannot be good for the value of a building, especially since the summoning worked.
- The 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters subverts it in one scene where the team are viewing a firehouse like the one from the original movies. They’re all in favor of the building until the realtor tells them the rent is $21,000 a month. Erin immediately tells the realtor to burn in hell. They’re able to afford the building by the end, when the Mayor puts them on the city’s payroll .
- Elf: As Buzzfeed points out, Jovie’s apartment seen toward the end of the film is apparently quite nice and fairly spacious, although she (presumably) lives alone in Chinatown which is about $2,000-4,000 a month in New York. She works in a department store and states earlier in the film that her hot water was shut off.
- In 13 Going on 30 Jenna’s 30-year-old self lives by herself in a spacious loft-style apartment with a huge walk-in closet, daily car service to work, and right on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which would rent for approximately $7,000 a month, significantly more that the average salary of a lifestyle magazine editor. Given The Reveal that Jenna was resorting to corporate espionage to work for SPARKLE, it’s possible a higher salary that would help her sustain such a lifestyle was a reason for her defecting .
- Abby in The Ugly Truth has a beautiful apartment despite running a failing television network.
- In The Skulls, Will, Luke, and Chloe live in dorm rooms that are bigger and nicer than some people’s apartments — and single rooms at that, which are more expensive than shared — even though it’s been said repeatedly that Luke is struggling financially and is only at this prestigious university via scholarship. This might ironically explain how he is able to afford such a nice room — he’s seen working as well — but there’s still no explanation for how Will can. A throwaway line indicates that Chloe is wealthy, but even so, dorm rooms simply do NOT look like that.
- Lois Lane’s Metropolis apartment in Superman is awfully, awfully nice — with a balcony, no less! Lampshaded in MAD Magazine’s satire of the movie:
- 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.
- In one of the Sweet Valley University books, the twins’ college friend Isabella is forced to take in a new roommate after a car accident means that she can no longer afford to keep up the rent. Although Isabella has wealthy parents, she claims that she doesn’t take money from them. She also does not have a part-time job alongside her studies, which leaves the reader wondering how Isabella has thus far paid for the spacious and beautifully-decorated apartment described in the book.
- The Dresden Files:
- 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 being a Knight hasn’t allowed him the time to grow his business enough to attract many really big, lucrative jobs.) 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 (though the fact that he builds houses for a living means that if he does have the time, he can do all that purely for the cost of materials, as he clearly has the skills to do such things on his own time for free). It’s possible that divine grace (or, more likely, 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.
- Karrin Murphy lives in a rather nice house in the city, well above what she should be able to afford on a cop’s salary. This is justified by explaining that the house was Murphy’s grandmother’s, and it was left to her in the will.
- Inverted for Dresden himself. He often has problems paying the rent for his crappy office, and it is eventually revealed that one of his enemies bought the property and has been jacking up the rent prices just for him. His apartment is decently sized (one tiny bedroom, one tiny bathroom, a generously sized kitchen/living room and space for a large lab in the sub-basement), but cheap due to being in the basement and sub-basement and lacking amenities he can’t use like a water heater and refrigerator. Even so, he sometimes struggles to pay the rent, but his elderly landlady lets the occasional late check slide in exchange for help with snow-shoveling and taking out the garbage.
- A variation appears in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. An enormous amount of space on the Nautilus is devoted to the library, the dining room, and other amenities for use only by Captain Nemo, with hardly any space for use by the crew. While Verne would never have had chance to see a real life submarine, he did estimate the internal volume of a submarine that could be devoted to living quarters fairly realistically. But, while the opulence of the Nautilus’ interior served an important plot point, the details of how its crew lived was irrelevant for the story.
- Cathy’s apartments in Petals on the Wind are pretty posh for a ballet dancer.
- Imitation of Life (1959) opens with pre-stardom Lora living in a pretty nice apartment in New York that still has room for Annie and Sarah Jane to move in. There is a Hand Wave that Lora saved up lots of money before choosing to move to New York, and she is supplementing her acting career by personally addressing a series of envelopes. She gets a modelling gig that pays very well, and is cast in a Broadway play shortly afterwards. After a Time Skip to where she’s become a star, she’s now living in a Big Fancy House upstate.
- Friends, the Trope Namer.
- The rent for Monica’s apartment was estimated, if it were real, to be $4000-$4600 per month note This is adjusted for inflation from 2018 dollars — the article ballparked it at $7000-$8000/month in Sept. 2018 dollars and doesn’t take into account any gentrification effects New York has gone through since the mid-1990’s . It’s Handwaved by Monica claiming that her grandmother originally rented the apartment at $200/month and she is illegally subletting it, which is actually in the realm of possibility due to rent control in Manhattan. 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. That being said, there was a chunk of time where Monica was unemployed, meaning the entire apartment’s rent fell to the wages of a waitress. A particularly terrible, and therefore probably poorly-tipped, waitress. Though in fairness, Monica borrows money from Ross and makes several references to her savings being quickly depleted, so clearly she was still paying some rent. Given her status as the responsible one, it’s likely she would save up in the event of crisis.
- Chandler and Joey’s apartment directly 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, and yet their apartment is roughly a quarter the size of Monica’s and is sparsely furnished. 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.”
- Played straight with Phoebe, whose apartment was larger and nicer than Joey and Chandler’s. Justified in early seasons as she was sharing it with her grandmother but is later living alone on a masseuse’s salary. There is a plot point later in the series where Phoebe is now working for a corporate chain that pays better, despite it being against her morals.
- There’s also the original apartment Ross resided in that was about midway between Joey and Chandler’s and Monica and Rachel’s apartments size-wise that he lived in alone. He may have lived there with Carol originally, but he stays there until Emily forces him to move and he moves in with Joey and Chandler, then to Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment, which is much smaller than even Joey and Chandler’s place, but much nicer looking.
- Averted. Despite being a private practice doctor, Becker still lives in a modest apartment. He also mentions that his car is “held together with duct tape.” Though it’s mentioned several times that Becker’s practice is in a poor neighborhood and his patients are frequently short of cash and are unable to fully pay. It’s also implied in The Pilot that he’s quite charitable to his poorer patients.
- Linda the brain dead bimbo nurse of Dr. Becker lives in a spacious and lavishly furnished apartment overlooking Central Park 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.
- In The Odd Couple, it’s not clear why Oscar Madison expects to maintain a family-sized apartment in New York for himself and his friends, since the start of the play finds him running painfully short on alimony payments.
- Indigo Prophecy 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 SequelHeavy 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.
- 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.
- In Detroit: Become Human, Todd lives in a fairly spacious if poorly-kept house despite being an unemployed drug addict. On top of somehow supporting a drug habit, he has enough money to pay for a Robot Maid (as well as repairs after destroying her) as well as a robot child . At least in the case of maid, Kara’s model is a commercial model available for $800.
- In Dragon Age II Merrill is a newcomer to Kirkwall, having come from a society of nomadic druids who don’t really deal with money. The city is already overflowing with refugees, plus being an elf means that she is forced to live in the slums in the worst part of town. By all rights she should be living in a shoebox, but somehow she’s situated in what amounts to a reasonably-sized apartment (albeit one with a vermin problem).
- Though given Varric’s underworld ties, it’s not unlikely to believe that he smoothed things over to get her a place of her own. He does at one point mention that he pays off thugs in Lowtown to not give her trouble.
- It’s heavily implied that it’s smaller in-universe. All of the furniture is packed into tight corners and cubbies, and cut scenes in the apartment are all edited to make it look like those areas are all there is. That it’s so tiny finding a place for guests to sit down is an issue is mentioned a few times. Most of the space seems to just be a place to put the camera.
- Fate/stay night: The Emiya residence surprises quite a lot of characters who visit it, as it’s a rather large, traditional Japanese-style house, with at least four spare bedrooms, a spacious yard, detached dojo, and two-story storage shed in the middle of the city. Shirou is an orphaned high school student who works several part-time jobs; and he certainly didn’t have enough of an inheritance to afford such a place. The VN explains that the house is actually owned by the local Yakuza syndicate; Shirou’s father Kiritsugu had rented it from them, and after his passing they allow Shirou to stay there as a favor to Kiritsugu. In one of the visual novel’s endings, Sakura Matou purchases the residence, and it takes nearly all of the Matou family’s finances (which is not a small amount) as well as selling her own Big Fancy House in order to afford it.
- In Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy, Katrielle Layton not only has an apartment somewhere in London, which she apparently lives in by herself, she also has an office for her detective agency somewhere else in London within walking distance of Big Ben, even though her only apparent source of income is her newly created detective agency which is described many times as not getting much business.
- Done as a game mechanic in Animal Crossing where in spite of having no job other than a very brief part-time stint at a corner store you’re able to not only own a home but continuously remodel it into (eventually) the nicest and most lavish home in town. Reason being Tom Nook doesn’t charge interest, lets you pay off your debt at your own pace, and doesn’t care if you never pay outside of not letting you upgrade (and there’s no real incentive aside a Cosmetic Award for paying your final debt), so you have all the time in the world to pay off your debt as slowly as possible. A patient player could actually eventually pay off their home by picking fruit and gathering sea shells.
- The Last of Us: Before the Cordyceps outbreak, Joel, a carpenter and single father, lived in a decent-sized two-story house. Joel was married to Sarah’s Missing Mom for a while, so it’s likely that they bought it together while they were married. And without her around (whether she died or divorced Joel isn’t confirmed), he implies in dialogue that he’s on the verge of losing it.
- In Final Fantasy VII Remake, most of the Sector 5 slums are a shanty-town constructed out of salvaged scrap metal. The notable exception is a three-story wooden house with a landscaped lawn. That’s where Aerith lives with her adoptive mother. While Madam Gainsborough’s job is not mentioned, Aerith sells flowers for a living. Not from a shop, not from a cart, from a handbasket, which severely limits the maximum amount of sales she can make in a day. Floristry must pay really well in Midgar.
- In Persona 5, Sojiro lives in a nice house with multiple bedrooms and spends a lot of money on fancy electronics for Futaba despite just having a small coffee shop that doesn’t see much business. Justified given that he’s a former government employee and probably has a pension that he’s actually living on.
- Living with Insanity was like this for a while until it was eventually commented on..
- Subverted in City Under The Hill. Seamus works full-time for the Border Police, and yet still only affords a small sized flat above a grocery store.
- 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.
- 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.
- Later strips explain that the coffee shop isn’t nearly as bad off as it seems; Dora purposefully under staffs the shop (and picks up the slack herself) so she can take home more of the store’s profit for spending money.
- Played with when Marten’s mom moves there from San Francisco. She rents a place in the most expensive part of town, which is laughably cheap to her.
- 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 S.S.D.D as Richard is actually the landlord, and willing to give his friends a lot of leeway when it comes to rent because of their history, although his patience does have limits and he’s occasionally threatened both of them with the boot when their antics get too much. He also gets part of his payment in kind: Kingston supplies him with weed, and Norman helps him persuade uncooperative tenants to cough up. It also later turns out that Kingston’s family are quite well off, and are implied to be helping him out and probably paying a bit extra to Richard to look after their wayward son.
- Lampshaded in Metacarpolis when Emiko admits that she can’t afford her apartment solely on her income as a cleaning service maid. It’s just one of many hints that she is more than she appears.
- Ménage à 3:
- The lead trio are a call center worker who spends most of his spare cash on geeky collectibles, a comics shop assistant (hired without negotiation as “counter candy”), and a waitress. The apartment they share looks pretty nice, though, even if the landlady is a serious hard case, and the lease apparently permits her to enter the place any time she wishes, and apply surcharges to the rent for arbitrary reasons.
- Waitress Sonya can afford an apartment of her own, in a building with its own swimming pool.
- Possibly slightly justified in that the series takes place in Montreal, which is a better city for rents than some owing to a large supply of older rental buildings and thirty-odd years of political uncertainty.
- Wilde Life. Oscar was working as a journalist in Chicago before quitting the job, and it’s implied that he’d been living with his sister (and her husband) for a while after that. But one day he found on Craigslist a nice house for rent in Podunk, Oklahoma and just went and moved there. Sure, the house is haunted so it has a lower-than-market price, and some of the previous owners had left their furniture and even TV there, but still he doesn’t seem to be doing anything to pay the rent.
- John’s father from Homestuck is able to afford a massive house, despite being “just a businessman”. Compare the other parents in the comic, who are all explicitly filthy rich with similar house sizes. Averted with the post-Scratch version of “Dad”, who’s now raising the heiress to a multinational baking corporation.
- Deconstructed by The Nostalgia Critic (with a guest appearance from ’90s Kid) in his Bio-Dome review, which he points out was one of numerous movies from the The ’90s featuring stupid young people with no steady jobs, yet still having decent places to live.
- Lampshaded in Smosh’s video, “If TV Shows Were Real 3”:
You’re living in a dumpster and you’re broke as f*ck!
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The "Friends" Rent Control trope as used in popular culture. Your cast of good-looking single hangarounds live in a fancy apartment in the middle of the town …
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FriendsRentControl Cheap low income apartments for rent near me