At the time I moved here the cost of living (housing) was slightly more expensive than where I lived in the Midwest...my rent increased from $375 per month to $450 per month. That was ok because the increase in salary was $5,000 per year...and I moved into a nice area and a larger apartment.
If I were to attempt the same move today, I could not do it because the cost of housing has reach stratospheric levels for no good reason. The apartment I had in the Midwest would now be around $750 to $795 per month but it would still include heat, trash, water, and probably internet access. My same apartment here in the Bay Area would be $2,500 per month and it would only cover the apartment...garage/parking would be extra, heat would be mine to pay, utilities would be mine to pay, hot/cold water would be mine to pay. The $450 per month I paid here all those years ago...covered utilities and parking.
At the time I was a junior new business development officer at a major bank here. The same position today would not allow me to have a one bedroom apartment on my own. In order to pay $2,500 per rent (or $3,300 per month in the city), one would have to earn in excess of $120,000 per year. Trust me when I say that the salary of a junior new business development officer is insufficient to pay this rent.
Today the Chronicle blithely talking how two bedroom one bath condos were being listed at $850,000 and by time the bidding war was over they would sell for $1,000,000 or more. And it would be a cash offer.
Myself and renting from a predatory slumlord??? Well, you can easily imagine the angst each and every time my lease is up for renewal. Over the last three years I've seen my rent increase by $700 per month and my salary has not kept up with those increases. Garage space which used to come with the apartment is now extra, water (hot & cold) which used to come with the apartment are now an added cost, etc. I am not alone either in my angst...tenants here have a palpable anger for this landlord (AIMCO).
I love this apartment. I love living in Pacifica. I love the views. This wee home has been filled with so much love and laughter since I've move here. Yet, in many ways, I am one rent increase away from not being able to live here any more...or any other place in the Bay Area where I might want to live.
The options are not palatable.
Oh, I tried buying property a few years ago. With my excellent credit score I was pre-approved for an FHA loan. Yet I could not get into any property because corporate investors were scooping up the properties that were "undervalued" with the plan to flip them at horrendously higher prices. An FHA loan cannot compete with a cash investor willing to pay far more than a property's list price.
Consequently I've been looking at property to buy the Midwest. I am stunned. Quite honestly I am stunned again and again.
...And before you begin to "Poopoo" the idea of the Midwest, I am not talking about Kansas or Missouri or Indiana but rather about vibrant cities such as the Twin Cities (vibrant gay population, great theater and restaurant scene) and Madison, WI (vibrant gay population, fantastic restaurant scene, beautiful setting, etc).
For one thing...after living here and trying to buy any type of real estate...I've been in shell shock at the prices. That also includes rents...I saw one add for a one bedroom apartment near downtown in on of those cities...it included a fireplace, views, all utilities, and THE SUNDAY PAPER! I almost wept when I saw that ad...not only for the loss of what once was here in California but because of the predatory greed of today's California landlords.
Let me get back to the idea of buying in one of those very nice locations in the Midwest. My real estate agent found a gorgeous two bedroom, two bathroom, with fireplace condo for me that is 1,400 square feet (it includes a heated garage).
So, I talked this afternoon to the real estate agent and she thought we should go in with an offer that was $7,000 less than the asking price. Fine. Then we talked about earnest money and I suggested $5,000. LOL! She said that was way too much and that $2,000 would be more than enough to convince the seller that I was earnest.
I mean I am used to the unfair playing field of the California rental/real estate market...you know the one where the same condo would list for $850,000 and would sell for over $1,000,000 cash???
I would be making an offer on a condo in the Midwest that is every bit as nice as one in SF...yet I would not be outbid by cash offers in the million dollar range???
Oh...and let us not forget the HOA fees. On this condo in the Midwest they are $230 per month but include hot and cold water, landscaping, insurance on the building, snow removal, trash removal...oh and get this a "reserve."
The condos I've looked at in Stockton, CA (which is not even close to the class of Madison, WI in comparison) have HOA fees of $290 to $320 per month. What do those fees include? Well, they include paying the management staff as well as landscaping. I know for a fact that the landscaping fee that is paid in these complexes runs around $700 per month. Total. How did we ever get to the point where we accept being ripped off on this scale???
Where, when and how did us Californian's get sucked down such a nasty path as California housing??? Yes, it is a lovely place to live but at what cost???