It wasn't all that long ago when New York City was still a place where semi-affordable housing still existed. Sure you had to move to urban hellholes like "Harlem" or "Brooklyn" but if you moved enough subway stops away from the priciest bits you could get a decent enough place in a decent enough neighborhood. I always contrasted that with Southern California, where, due to the lack of center, there wasn't really much of a rent gradient. Sure you could drive until you qualified...eventually, but that meant Riverside. Pretty far.