Living in Tokyo has taught me that relationships matter but real estate matters more. My mom used to tell me never to date anyone who didn't have a down payment on a condo, which basically doomed me to permanent datelessness.

I never listened and went out a lot and now here I am, wondering if my mother had been right. Everyone I know is a slave to their 35-year mortgage plans, moaning that by the time the house is paid off, they'll likely be in their 70s.

At least we don't live in New York City, where the average monthly rent for an apartment is more than $3,500 dollars. And good luck to buyers hoping to stumbling on anything under $300,000 that doesn't look like a broom closet. For less grounded information about real estate and the city, watch "5 Flights Up," a wishful-thinking fantasy about long-term relationships and New York apartments. In the real world, of course, the market is brutal and people are awful. Wrinkles will double and nail polish will chip from scanning the classifieds and making the rounds of open houses. Loved ones turn into arguing, bickering trolls.