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Could Don Draper afford Surfers Paradise property in 2015?

By Andrew Bell

After we took a look at how real estate in Surfers Paradise would fit into the world of Game of Thrones, now it is time to put another prestige television drama into our world of property. This time, let's take a look at Mad Men. The drama is about to complete its seventh and final season of following the mysterious and handsome Don Draper as he gallavants around the 60s and 70s with his advertising agency, Sterling Cooper (and its other iterations).

It's a show filled with the glitz and glamour of the time period, all chiseled suits and whiskey for lunch. And this decadence is never more apparent than in the property seen in the series. Don Draper's apartment in New York is a classic 70s piece, with a depressed lounge area taking centre stage. But just how much would it have cost back then? And would Don Draper be able to get a top floor penthouse in a tower on Main Beach these days? Let's have a look. 

How much for a Park Avenue apartment?

Apartment 17B at 783 Park Avenue – the address of Don Draper for the last few seasons of Mad Men. The sprawling house never seems short on space, or a drink. But how much was it worth? In a recent episode, an agent referred to the space as an $85,000 fixer-upper. 

However, it could be argued that the agent wasn't the best – she suggested the place reeked of failure, which isn't at all how we think clients should be spoken to! But in reports on Trulia research dissecting this​, the median house price in New York in the sixties was actually around $75,000. This means $85,000 for a high rise apartment of this calibre probably wasn't too far off! 

According to the Trulia research, homes on Park Avenue in New York now sell for as much as $16.5million – quite a jump from that $85,000, or even the 2015 equivalent of more than $500,000. In fact, according to Business Insider Australia, Vera Wang bought an apartment there in 2007 for $23.1million! So that's the ballpark on how much Don Draper's apartment costs now. But could he afford it in 2015?

Summing up the salary

The Trulia research indicates that a creative director a la Don Draper makes about $154,000 per year in New York today. That's just under $190,000 annually in Australia, which could put you in the market for an excellent slice of real estate. However, it might not be enough to settle down in those Park Avenue apartments! 

If we were Don Draper's agent, we would definitely recommend checking out Main Beach real estate. My RP Data figures show that the median sale price of property there over the last 12 months was $587,750 – well within range of Mr Draper's budget.

However, we think his budget could extend considerably beyond that salary. Remember, this man is a founding partner of an advertising agency that was bought out by one of the biggest firms in the USA! Vulture did the math on how much each character in the series made off this deal, and estimated that Don Draper walked away from the buyout with a cool $4.97million. But that was then – in 2014, when calculations were done, it is US$31.2million.

That would leave Don Draper with a nice little payout of $38.4million in Australian dollars, based on today's exchange rate. Given that our most expensive apartment recently sold in Melbourne for $25million, we would definitely suggest that Don Draper can afford to live a decadent lifestyle here. And where better way to do it than in some high rise Surfers Paradise property

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