I’ve recently moved into San Diego, and into my first apartment post-college that’s really mine. At least, it’s mine and my roommate’s, because there’s no way I could afford a 1BR spot for myself. It’s straight up too expensive. I work as a barista (hence the anonymous message, as I don’t want my regulars to identify me), and I earn what I actually thought would be pretty good money, considering the relatively high minimum wage in California. As I adjust to the high cost of living a normal life, I have to say, my mind is completely boggled. How can so many hipsters hold down stereotypically “hipster” jobs (like mine!), yet still freely enjoy hipster extravagances like craft beer, $8 avocado toast, Polaroid photography, designer beard tonics, and vinyl records?
— Broke Bro in North Park
A lot of things in life scream hipster, but perhaps nothing so perfectly encapsulates the daily irony of hipster life quite like not really being able to afford the things everybody makes fun of you for liking. You could include in that measure the rent on a modest apartment in a nice, hipster neighborhood, as opposed to somewhere out in the sticks. Congratulations on achieving a major hipster milestone.
In further irony, the sometimes high cost of hipster living is a direct consequence of non-hipsters developing a taste for hipster stuff. For example, a surprisingly long time ago in pop-culture years, “loft” apartments in converted industrial buildings were the cheap, hipster alternative to conventional urban apartments. Finance and other business bro types, envious of hipsters’ bohemian lifestyles, started moving in — except they demanded concierges and pre-installed $20,000 Viking professional ranges they wouldn’t ever cook on. Priced out of the market, and unable to compete with all the proactive, value-adding synergy creation and optics management going on all of a sudden in their neighborhoods, all the hipsters had to move into condos with popcorn ceilings where they developed a sudden appreciation for mid-20th century design cues.
Being by nature resourceful types, hipsters have found many ways out of this particular pickle. I can provide some insight, but you have to stay with me, as it might take a little while to run through all the tricks.
Step One: Achieve Insider Status
Economists sometimes talk in terms of “internal” and “external” costs. Individuals must bear the former as they go about their business, while the latter costs are borne by... someone else, often society at large. Hipsters have figured out how to externalize the cost of a hipster lifestyle by seeking employment within hipster industries. Like drinking fancy coffee? Become a barista! Can’t afford to grow your vinyl record collection? Work part-time at the record store (good luck)! Like drugs? Become a casual drug dealer!
Gaining access to hipster resources at below-market rates eases the burden of consuming hipster goods at the wages normally earned by hipsters working in hipster industries. Of course, plenty of darn cynical bastards take only cold comfort from receiving employee discounts on kale smoothies and Miller High Life in lieu of a salary that can pay for a mortgage, but you shouldn’t listen to them, because they’re merely covetous of all the free lattes you’re drinking while they’re stuck paying retail at Starbucks.