What We Give Up to Live in the San Francisco Bay Area

Let’s start with this: San Francisco was just named the second-most expensive place to rent by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, beating out New York City. Just pause and reread that sentence one more time—here, I’ll help: beating out New York City. (Honolulu was No. 1.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage in the U.S. is $45,790, while in the Bay Area (or rather the part they measure in one unit, which includes San Francisco and Oakland) $62,680. Closer to Silicon Alley it’s even higher. I live in Oakland, where the median sale price for a house went up 56% percent in a year to $450,000, according to a report by DataQuick in the San Francisco Chronicle. And when people can’t afford to buy, they rent—and then rents go up.

Living in the Bay Area on a low-income salary is extremely hard. What sometimes surprises people is that living there on what would be a higher income according to the national averages can also be fairly difficult. When I interviewed Amy, the personal assistant, some readers felt that a person making around $100,000 was already herself quite rich, while others pointed out that in the Bay Area, that doesn’t get you as much as you’d think.

Around here, conversations involving housing often start like this: “Can you believe so-and-so spends ‘$X-amount’ on their apartment/bungalow/two-story Craftsman? And it’s only on such a crappy street in the Mission/Outer Richmond/Temescal? And only two years ago, it was half the price! In Ashland/Portland/Iowa you could buy a farm for that price!” This script is always going. It’s a constant murmur. And if you get a lift in the tech economy, like now, and a flood of well-off workers squabbling over limited housing stock, you get to have the conversation even more often, and with more exclamation marks.

A San Francisco public radio station, KQED, just launched a series of stories under the name “Priced Out,” looking at what’s driving the housing shortage and asking people what they give up to afford living in the Bay Area. The first tweet in a Storifyed collection pretty much sums up the comments.

 

 

The KQED program spoke to me, because it’s true: to live here, you have to make tradeoffs. Maybe it’s (lots of) money, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s comfort, but we all do it. To live in this beautiful, vibrant place you have to compromise, and sometimes you wonder why.

San Francisco, with its small area (just seven by seven miles), is the epicenter of this, but there’s a ripple effect that spreads housing crises around the Bay Area like aftershocks. I live in the not-uncomplicated city of Oakland, with my two kids and one husband, in a one-bedroom apartment. My husband has 2.5 hours of commute each day, by public transportation. My personal trade-off is size (small) for location (beautiful and walkable), and I’m happy to make it. But I know I’m lucky, and if we ever had to move we’d be paying at least $1,300 more per month for something at all comparable. (Hi, landlords! We love you!)

Everyone I know has a story like this, involving luck, so I was inspired by the KQED series to ask around and get some stories about people starting out, who are maybe hoping for a break like mine.

Sophie is 26 and in graduate school to become a speech pathologist. She’s currently looking for a room to rent in San Francisco, and has been since July 1. A Bay Area native, she counts herself lucky to be able to occasionally crash at her parents’ house in between days sharing a twin bed with her boyfriend in his tiny room over a bar. She also gets much-needed financial help from her parents. For her, it’s worth the discomfort and high prices to live here, so I wanted to ask her why. Here is our conversation:

 

Okay, so let’s start w. some background. How long have you been living in San Francisco?
I first moved to San Francisco in November 2011. It took me about three months to find a place. I moved out of that place in June 2011 because I needed to be near a BART station for school [her commute by BART and bus is almost two hours].

I didn’t move into another place until January 1st, 2013. I moved out of that place July 1st because the master tenant was moving out, and my rent was probably going to be doubled.

I’ve had a lot of luck with my rent, mostly because I’ve had the luxury of having parents in Oakland so I’ve been able to live with them until I find something affordable.

 

How much were you paying in your last place?
My rent for a very nice sized room in the Mission was $750. I think the other roommate upstairs was also paying $750, and the master tenant who lived downstairs with her boyfriend paid $650—when the landlord wanted to raise the rent, the master tenant kept her rent the same and raised it for us.

 

And then the master tenant left.
Yes, she decided to go back to school. The landlord was going to renovate the place (it was pretty run-down). My guess is that he could charge $1,300 easy for my room.

 

That’s quite a lot!
It is and it isn’t. I’m now looking for a room in the same neighborhood, and trying to keep it $1,100 or under. I’m finding this to be really, really difficult. $1,300 is a lot of money for a room, but the Mission has become a very desirable neighborhood. It’s difficult to compete with the new techies moving into the city.

 

And what have you been doing in the meantime? Since July?
I’ve been living mostly with my boyfriend in the Inner Richmond. He has a small room in an apartment he shares with friends over a bar. I sleep there 6 out of 7 days of the week, and one night a week with my parents in Oakland. I would stay there every night, but I feel bad being there all the time because my boyfriend has three roommates.

 

How much does he pay?
He pays $550 for a tiny room (it fits a twin bed, a desk, and a bookshelf). Because the place is over a bar, it gets very noisy at night, and shakes occasionally when the music is loud. However, he considers himself to be extremely lucky to pay such a low rent, and people are generally shocked when he tells them. His experience of $550 in the Inner Richmond and my experience of $750 in the Mission aren’t typical. He knows that he can’t move out of his place and find nearly as good a deal.

 

That’s crazy. So how do you manage to go to school in Hayward and live in S.F.?
I spend about two and a half hours a day commuting. I am able to study with the woman I carpool with (I have flashcards). It’s a sacrifice, but I am really happy in S.F. so it’s worth it. I work about 15 hours a week for a family in Noe Valley [nannying], and am very lucky that my parents are able to help me out with expenses. Again, this isn’t typical for my peer group. I have financial aid for school as well.

 

What would you say is typical for your age group in the city?
Hmm, it depends. All of my friends in school have an immense amount of loans. My friends who are doing well are working in tech. I have friends who are in their mid-twenties paying $1,500 a month for a room easy, or $2,000 for a studio. Other friends are really, really struggling to pay rent, and generally live in the Sunset or Outer Richmond.

Everyone is afraid to move, because they know that their rent at their next place will be much more.

 

So why live in S.F.? Why not move somewhere cheaper?
I love living in a city. I enjoy not having a car, being close to so many great restaurants, and I’ve made a lot of friends out here. It’s still a fun place to live, with a lot of great things to do.

 

Why not move in with your parents to save money? Is it a question of autonomy?
Pretty much. At 26, I’m much happier being on my own. I enjoy my freedom, being able to go out as much as I want without having to explain where I’m going, etc. However, when I graduated the economy was really bad, so I lived at home about half of the time between undergrad and graduate school to save money. I do have some friends who live at home while in school, and this helps keep the debt lower.

 

Do you think about your financial future?
I chose not to go to Columbia and instead go to Cal State East Bay so that I don’t have to go into debt. I decided to be a speech-language pathologist because I knew that I would get a job after I graduate (the market is fantastic). I’m very lucky that I don’t have debt from undergrad, which I don’t think is typical.

I’ve thought about whether or not I’ll be able to afford to live in San Francisco when I graduate. I think I’d be able to, but only as long as I’m willing to have roommates. I can’t imagine getting my own place here, I don’t even think of that as a possibility.

 

And that will be worth it?
To me, yes. I enjoy being in the city. I love Oakland, and am there all the time, but it’s too close to my parents. I am pretty flexible about the kinds of places I’m willing to live in. Right now, for example, I live in half of what used to be a dining room. I’ve lived in half a living room, too.

Among my peers at least, it’s rare for an apartment to not have a living room or dining room converted into a bedroom. More often than not, the kitchen is the only communal space.

If I do find a place at around $1,100 a month, that will obviously be a big part of my budget, and will really limit me in what I can do for fun and what kinds of things I can buy. However, it is still worth it to me.

 

 

Maya Mirsky is a reporter covering local news in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This will be part of a short series looking at what we give up to live in expensive cities. Maya is looking to interview someone from a low-income family next.

---
---
---
---
---
---

47 Comments / Post A Comment

I’m definitely a city person – I love density, diversity, public transit, “culture,” etc etc but I do. not. get. people who live in the Bay Area and don’t make millions of dollars. I have never heard someone’s Bay Area tradeoffs and thought “Yeah, I’d be willing to make that same trade.” Two hour commutes, shitty school districts, insane housing costs, all for some good restaurants? No thank you.

That being said, I’m really interested to read the rest of this series and see if someone’s story resonates with me.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@polka dots vs stripes I want to throttle this young woman who believes this is the only city where there are good people and fun things to do. OH MY GOD.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@polka dots vs stripes And I guess also . . . That dude’s three roommates are not jazzed that another whole person LIVES there but they all still pay the same amount. That’s bogus to do, and she’s making her life on the back of someone else’s life!

@aetataureate I try to have sympathy for that attitude, because I used to be the same (especially about New York City), but I am also 26 and have learned that nope, cool innovative people and decent food and fun bars are in pretty much every city. So my sympathy is limited.

@polka dots vs stripes I’m with you on this! There are so many amazing cities in the U.S.! I’m struggling with the idea of moving to a city where I know that the housing prices will be about double what they are in my small Midwest city right now! I can’t imagine triple that! What’s the point of living in an amazing city if you can’t afford to spend some money on checking it out?

@aetataureate AHH YES I was going to say, honey, 6 nights out of 7 IS being there all the time. But I wanted to stick with my general Bay Area point and not attack her.

But since we’re here now: Sophie, please tell me you pay part of the utilities there? Or buy them a few beers over the weekend?

honey cowl (#1,510)

@polka dots vs stripes I agree! I live in Seattle and feel stretched this paying half of this. I can’t believe people are making this work, and it sounds exhausting.

rightclicksave (#2,662)

@polka dots vs stripes Here is one Bay Area resident’s take on this. My family is here, I am from here. I am wary of the “I was born here, and I’ll fight all them techies to stand my ground” argument if only because it has unfortunate echoes of current anti-immigration sentiment (not to mention the attempted eradication of Native peoples), but I also believe that people who have deeply-felt connections to this land should be able to live here. Yes the prices are outrageous and the problems you mentioned do affect our daily life. Would I trade it to live somewhere else? No.

Also, people of my particular stripe of biracial-ness are found in the highest concentration on the West Coast, and while I’m not super-involved in my Japanese/Japanese-American culture every single day I am more comfortable when I have access to that community. (I went to school in the Midwest, and didn’t realize how much I felt isolated until I moved back after graduation.)

@rightclicksave people who have deeply-felt connections to this land should be able to live here

I completely agree with you, which is one of the reasons I think the Bay Area is so ridiculous! It’s completely pricing out the “normals,” and being near family is a trade off I can appreciate and support. Sophie is actually limiting her housing search to areas farther away from her parents, so her’s is another Bay Area story that I don’t identify with her trade offs at all.

Marissa (#467)

@rightclicksave I grew up in the North Bay and now live and work in San Francisco. I like that my family is close (but not too close!) I have lucked out for the time being with a cheap room in a rent-controlled place in the Mission and since I don’t need to drive, I don’t own a car. I consider myself lucky that I do not want children and thus won’t ever have to pay for them. So for me, living here is worth it. I love this city and location is more important to me than a lot of space. However, I’m sure someday soon I will want my own place and then I will reconsider. Even if I had to find a new room in a place now, it would be tricky.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@rightclicksave You should totally, definitely live wherever you want to and feel most comfortable. To be fair, it doesn’t really sound like the interviewee has the same sense of place and culture? Like, she won’t live in Oakland (even though she’s in Oakland “all the time”) because it’s too close to her parents. Not even WITH them, just near them. That’s . . . I mean, there are loose ends in this story, that’s all I’m saying.

ellabella (#1,480)

@rightclicksave I understand wanting to live somewhere you have a connection to (I want to live in San Francisco for this reason), but…. what do you imagine as a solution to this? More rent control?

ellabella (#1,480)

@aetataureate Can you explain further? Like, do you mean that you should be able to live wherever you want to (understanding that you may need to make great sacrifices to do so)?

aetataureate (#1,310)

@ellabella I am clarifying that I didn’t mean NO ONE should live in San Francisco or that there were no valid reasons to want to. But that is not the impression I got from the interview in this post. Individual people should choose whatever choices they want, and no one can say what’s “worth it” to another person or not. If the interviewee’s priorities are seriously like “It’s fun here and I like it” then that, to ME, is not worth the sacrifices she’s making.

I feel similarly about New York City though. I don’t understand why most of the people who live there choose to live there, because our priorities are necessarily so different that I can’t relate to them.

@polka dots vs stripes Hi, I live in the Bay Area and don’t make millions of dollars! I work for a non-profit, bike 10 minutes to work, and save ~1/3 of my salary. But I have it very good: no debt from undergrad, worked all through high school and college and so had a cushion of savings, found a rent-controlled place <$900/mo (though I share with 4 other people).

One thing is that, at least for a lot of recent grads, the Bay Area was one of the best bets to find work. The job market was especially terrible for people without good work experience (summers don’t really cut it), and the Bay Area over the past 4ish years had more systems in place for hiring “smart and inexperienced” than other places in the country. Then once you get a job your life and work is there.

For me, I moved to SF sans job and apartment because I loved the city. It’s not really the restaurants or nightlife – it’s that so many things bring me such joy. From the radical acceptance of alternate lifestyles to the sudden views of the bay when you turn a corner to the cozy fog rolling in to the detailed architecture – San Francisco strikes my heart consistently in a way no other place has. I’m sure there are other places and I don’t feel entitled to live here and I’m sure I’ll look elsewhere eventually. But it was worth it for me to give it a shot because I’d trade a lot for daily doses of psychic boosts.

ETA: All personal, obviously! And I don’t have the same priorities as some of these people and I know it’s easy to romanticize a city. But I know a lot of people who feel the same way about SF–joyful–and think that can get lost in griping sometimes. Like complaining about your partner’s bad habits but it’s inconceivable to imagine being anywhere else. Not a good enough reason to stay with someone/a city, necessarily, but just putting out the attitude that I think for many people it’s more than just stubborn “this is the hip place.”

KPeeps (#1,140)

@polka dots vs stripes It’s not always a choice, for some people their industry has the most jobs in certain cities. Could I live a cheaper life in St. Louis or Portland? Sure, but my odds of finding work for my fields (journalism, government) are not as good as being in a larger city like NYC, SF, LA, or DC.

mayam (#5,523)

@polka dots vs stripes Hi, I’m the author of the post and I e-mailed Sophie to ask what she contributes to her boyfriend’s place. She said that she does chip in for both utilities and beer! She also said that she’s offered rent money, but that his roommates all make quite a bit of cash in the tech industry and feel awkward taking to much from her, a grad student. She added that her boyfriend “also checks in CONSTANTLY about how they feel about me being there. We’re on very friendly terms, and I am very careful not to hog the bathroom, be noisy, etc.”

@mayam Thanks for circling back, Maya! Sounds like Sophie has a good arrangement with them going on.

garli (#4,150)

As some one who lives in an insanely expensive place, (and makes sacrifices because of it) I have to say nothing bothers me more than people who feel like they deserve to live somewhere because they grew up there.

Like this tweet:

I was paying $2300 a month to rent a place in Parkmerced. I could not afford it and I moved to Pittsburgh, PA earlier this year where I was able to buy a huge old house in a great neighborhood. It’s so nice not to stress out every month over how much I’m spending on housing. BTW, I’m a native San Franciscan.

The last sentence doesn’t make your point any more valid. I mean not that this specific girl is saying that, it’s just something I hear all the time.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@garli I think it’s more about wanting to be close to your family of origin, but being unable to afford it.

rightclicksave (#2,662)

@garli May I ask why it annoys you? From my perspective, having an emotional/civic/familial connection to a place is just as valid a reason to feel entitled to live somewhere as having money.

garli (#4,150)

@rightclicksave It’s just that I don’t think anyone is entitled to live anywhere.

It’s perfectly valid to want to live near your family. It just doesn’t supersede anyone else’s wants to live there too. Even if their reason is like “I closed my eyes and pointed to a map and this is where my finger landed”

ellabella (#1,480)

@garli @garli What’s even worse is the people that moved somewhere 2 years ago and are claiming a right to live there and complaining about getting “priced out” when they were actually part of the gentrification of the area. (See: the Mission was already expensive and trendy before the current tech boom, if you moved there post-2006 you probably shouldn’t be complaining that it’s getting “ruined” by gentrifiers…)

From a personal perspective, as a native San Franciscan who would like to live there in the future, I have made career choices that will make that more attainable. I agree that I don’t “deserve” to live there because I grew up there; I’ve decided it’s important to me, and more so than a garage, large house, lots of other things, etc.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@garli That’s a really interesting perspective — I grew up in a shithole I couldn’t wait to leave, which by itself shouldn’t give me any LESS ability to live wherever I want than anyone else. Believing you should be able to stick where you began is the same as believing other people shouldn’t have access to where you began.

ellabella (#1,480)

@aetataureate this! thanks for putting it so succinctly; i’ve long had trouble explaining exactly that.

garli (#4,150)

@ellabella Ha yeah. My dad’s in real estate and he’s always saying “Everyone wants to be the last person that moved anywhere”

I too have given up things to live where I want and chose a career that pays enough to do so. I totally feel you on that.

garli (#4,150)

@aetataureate I hope you are living somewhere you want to be.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@garli I am! I live in Chicago and love it with my whole heart. And, am about to start school to change careers to get what I want. Amen.

ETA: But, also, no, growing up somewhere awful is kind of liberating. I don’t miss it, there’s nothing to miss. The world is my oyster. But I crucially value personal space and quiet.

garli (#4,150)

@aetataureate Congrats!

Mae (#1,769)

@aetataureate How would providing more affordable housing for people with generational/familial/cultural ties to a city (or just lower income people in general – they are often overlapping groups!) prevent other people from living there if they want to?

I don’t know – I am totally comfortable saying that people who have been born in a certain place and whose communities have helped shape its culture over generations have more of a stake in it. Money might be able to trump all other social ties, but that doesn’t mean it should.

Mae (#1,769)

@garli Why shouldn’t affordable housing be a right? This reminds me of the back and forth about low wages for service workers. Cities need restaurant workers and teachers and janitors in order to function, and I think those people absolutely deserve to live within a reasonable distance of their work without falling into poverty in order to do so.

ellabella (#1,480)

@Mae When there’s a limited supply of something like housing an urban area (especially one bordered by water that prevents unfettered outward expansion, like SF and NYC), prices go up as demand increases because it’s harder to increase supply than to increase prices until there is a match between supply and demand (aka pricing out potential renters/buyers).

Also, I’m interested in hearing people’s ideas for how affordable housing should actually happen (haven’t seen him in awhile, but @stuffisthings had some interesting ideas). I’m curious as to what people think counts as “affordable,” what a “reasonable distance” is, who should have access to it, where the money for that should come from, and how all those things should be regulated.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Mae I didn’t ever say any of the things you just asked me to defend, so I’ll leave that one alone.

@ellabella I just had this debate yesterday with my friend — he thinks just flooding the market with new construction brings prices down but I see tooooo many creepy-ass empty condo buildings here to imagine that working.

Mae (#1,769)

@aetataureate I’m sorry – I was reacting to this: “Believing you should be able to stick where you began is the same as believing other people shouldn’t have access to where you began.” I didn’t mean to imply that you oppose affordable housing.

@ellabella OK, yeah – I haven’t spent much time in either NYC or SF, so I forgot about the limits to new construction. Up to a certain point, greater density must be part of the answer, though. Seattle (where I live) has gotten much denser in recent years, although that’s been met with some hostility.

As for what works, I’m not sure. I know that for some newly constructed apartment buildings here in Seattle, a certain percentage of the units must be designated as “affordable” (or 30% of the median salary, I think, so it’s really middle-income housing, not low-income). I don’t think it’s widely implemented, but I’d be interested to know if measures like that work as they’re intended to.

kittymayhem (#3,929)

I grew up in Silicon Valley and moved away after college. The place I’m living now wasn’t supposed to be permanent, and I’m still not convinced I want to live here forever, but I struggle with where I would go next. The bay area is great in some ways and it’s hard with most of my family living there, but there are so many downsides to it.

KPeeps (#1,140)

@kittymayhem My husband and I are right there with you. We both grew up in the East Bay and moved for his job, but it’s temporary. Where will we go when he’s done? I doubt we’ll have the resources to move back home to be closer to family, but staying here isn’t winning us over either. I’ve been away from the Bay for over four years now but I still get homesick.

Human Centipaul (#3,559)

I am somewhat stunned that DC didn’t make the top ten least affordable list, but I guess it’s also considering the thousands of super-cheap, super-dilapidated homes in parts of far Northeast and far Southeast. They’re the parts of the city that aren’t walkable and don’t have what one thinks of as typical city amenities.

I think the comment above about jobs being the driver to a lot of super-expensive cities is dead on. I live in DC because I got a job here 8 years ago out of school, and then got another one. Density breeds cost, but it also breeds opportunity. Now, once you have a bunch of career experience under your belt, it’s easier (relatively! Very little about a job search is usually easy) to lock down one of the fewer available jobs in your field that might exist in a smaller metropolitan area. Of course, by then you have friends, routines, and favorite places that you’re not really inclined to abandon, so you find yourself saying “two grand for a studio? What a deal!”

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@Human Centipaul I think you make a great point. Mr. McDillet and I chose the other side of the coin: living in a rural area and accepting that we have fewer career opportunities. It’s worth it for us, because we’re ag-type people (bees, chickens, garden, the works) but we understand that our career progressions may not be as direct as our peers. Luckily, we are able to commute together to the small city in which we both work.

stinapag (#2,144)

Oh wow. This is really interesting. My sister left San Francisco (one bedroom in the Mission, rent controlled, just under 1K) right around the time that I was entertaining a job offer in Palo Alto. She’d been in the Bay Area for 15 years, and in San Francisco for 8. It wasn’t until the last two or so that she started feeling negative about it. A good half of her friends have left or are in the process of leaving. She’d read that her apartment doubled in rent since she vacated in August.

My offer was very generous. It was about 60% more money than I’m making now in Houston, Texas. But when my husband and I ran the numbers, we realized that we’d never be able to replicate the lifestyle we enjoy now (20 minutes from anywhere we want to be in the city, own our own home in a neighborhood we like, family support network) in the Bay Area. Living in Palo Alto was out of the question, and the more we discussed our options (and ventured onto real estate websites), the more we realized that even at an incredible salary, it didn’t cover the change in the cost of living. I never thought I’d decline that offer, but I found myself saying no and staying put in Houston.

hoorayllamas (#4,179)

As a fellow San Franciscan, this article definitely hit home.I grew up in the Bay Area and now work in SF. I am in my late 20s, and have a pretty great salary working in tech/entertainment. Together my husband and I earn nearly $300k annually, and we couldn’t buy a home. Usually I shy away from letting friends know what I earn because sometimes it’s awkward afterwards, but I wanted to share in this context. It is SERIOUSLY CRAZY that with our annual earnings together we couldn’t buy a house. We were outbid on everything all over the Bay Area by 20-25%, and usually by cash buyers. Even though we can easily afford the mortgage on a moderately priced home ($600-$750k), we were never picked because we were competing with investors. Another thing that made me sad (and I cannot comment on if it really made a difference), is that to win a bid you often have to send a letter and a photo to the seller. We’re a mixed couple, I’m half black, half white, and my husband is Hawaiian Filipino, and I imagine we’re not the family most homeowners are looking for when it comes to the “pick us! and our white picket fence family for your home” letters.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@hoorayllamas Oh my god, a photo? That’s legitimately both nonsensical and horrifying. I’m sorry that you have to deal with this.

hoorayllamas (#4,179)

@aetataureate It is so crazy! I know a few people who did this, and they think it’s what sealed the deal for their homes. Almost all buyers are encouraged to do this in the Bay Area now. It’s great if you have cute young kids, or maybe a dog. One couple I know even did some creepy internet research on the homeowneres of the place they were trying to buy, and then wrote in similar interests into their seller letter. They also did a photoshoot in a park with their dog, and won the bid on their house. I am very happy for them, but it just sucks knowing this strategy will probably not work for me :(

aetataureate (#1,310)

@hoorayllamas Use a fake photo! What are they going to say later, you can’t have the house because they wanted white people instead? That’ll be funny to see on the news when everyone gets fired because of it.

hoorayllamas (#4,179)

@aetataureate hahaha, that is a brilliant idea! So evil, I love it.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@hoorayllamas Also in seriousness did you hear the recent This American Life about housing fairness? It was shocking too. UGH, the world, what’s the matter with everyone.

hoorayllamas (#4,179)

Just to follow up because I ran out of time to edit my previous comment…again I don’t really know if our seller letters ever helped or hurt us. I know it’s my own insecurity as a mixed race person, but I always feel self conscious about this aspect of home buying. I also feel angry that we need to send a letter basically begging a seller to pick us to buy their home even though you can afford it, and I think it’s ridiculous that you need to send a profile of yourself and a photo.

FHA buyers are being priced out because there is a misconception that those loans are more risky, but the reality is that they only take 5 more days to process than a full cash bid. It means that first time home buyers, people who didn’t inherit a sum of money, or basically just anyone who’s not speculating on the market can’t afford to buy a home unless you overbid around 15-25%.

samsei (#947)

I own a nice house in Oakland, about 1500 sq. ft., in a safe neighborhood with some amenities (Haddon Hill), and my mortgage is $2100 a month. I managed this with a combination of very good luck and patience. I bought the house almost 11 years ago with two other people, and bought them out one at a time when they wanted to move on. The guy we bought from had redone the house to flip it, and was having trouble selling it (the market was in a soft spot, amazingly enough). We offered $425000, $25000 less than he wanted, and we got it. It’s been a great house, and I’m very happy living here, now with my girlfriend, but it’s taken most of my money and various types of creative financing with the help of my parents and my former co-owners to get where I am. The way the market is now, I could never afford to buy, I’m glad I took the jump when I did.

Comments are closed!