How much does it cost to store a VHS tape in a New York City apartment?

Renting Four square inches in the most expensive market in the US

I was listening to Todd Barry's podcast and he scoffed at a friend's VHS movie collection. In a New York City apartment, he implied, space is far too valuable to store an old fashioned plastic brick containing a single movie.

That got me wondering, how much does it cost to store a VHS tape in a New York City apartment?

videotape width

The Tape
The first step was to figure out how much space is taken up by a VHS tape. No problem. I'm hanging onto this copy of Seven Samurai for just this purpose. The box is 4" wide, 7" tall and 1" thick. Actually, this box is a double-tape movie, so it's two inches wide, but that's not typical, so let's assume Todd Barry was talking about a regular, one-inch thick VHS tape.

So, the footprint of a tape is 1"x4", or 4 inches square. A square foot is equal to 144"², so the tape takes up 1/36th of a square foot.

The Apartment
Rather than depend on the prices on Craigslist, I got the lowdown from New York supercitizen Charlie Todd. He pointed me to the Elliman Report, a monthly survey of Manhattan & Brooklyn Residential Rentals. The Elliman Report reports the average apartment in Manhattan rented for $3,902 per month, and that the average square foot sold for $54.78 per year.

Videotape measurments

The Cost of a Tape
That's all I needed to know. If a square foot of apartment space is $54.78, then a 36th of that is $1.52. That's the answer. Each 4" x 1" spot in a New York City apartment is worth $1.52 per year. But what if the tapes were on a shelf, or stacked on top of one another? Good point. That $1.52 buys a 4x1" column from the floor to the ceiling. That's probably around 8 feet, or 96 inches. If you can balance one tape on top of another, or use stacking with thin shelves, you could stack 13 tapes in that height. It's not very realistic, but it is a possibility. This is the critical variable.

Rent per tape-space

One tape standing on its edge $1.52 per year
Stacked double in a tv stand 71¢ per year each
Stacked five-high in a bookshelf 30¢ per year each
Floor-to-ceiling tapes 12¢ each per year

At $1.52 per year storage fee, the cost to own a library of videotapes in New York City is silly, but not insane. These days, if a movie isn't on Netflix, you can probably get it on Amazon instant watch for $3.

Floorplan of a New York City Apartment

Perhaps the more important lesson is that buying furniture, in this case a floor-to-ceiling shelf, can drastically lower the price of storing your property in an expensive apartment.

While we are at it:
The average cost of the space required for a bed in NYC. And by space required, I mean the actual size of the bed:

Bed Name area (in²) area (ft²) annual cost
Twin 2925 in² 20 ft² $1,112.72
Full 4050in² 28 ft² $1,540.69
Queen 4800in² 33 ft² $1,826.00
King 6080in² 42 ft² $2,312.93