Eating in is one way that listeners save more to pay for their housing. Photo: kevynjabobs/flickr
Eating in is one way that listeners save more to pay for their housing. Photo: kevynjabobs/flickr

Last Thursday Forum launched KQED’s “Priced Out: The Bay Area’s High Cost of Housing,” discussing what’s driving the market, what these prohibitive costs mean for the region, and what to expect in the short and long term.

The news wasn’t good for anyone trying to move anytime soon: San Francisco has the second-least affordable rental market in the U.S. despite having the highest minimum wage.

One guest went so far to say, “God wanted the Bay Area to be expensive,” citing the lack of space to expand development and good weather.

Yet some of us — lots of us — are still able to live here. But how?

That’s what we want know: what do you sacrifice to be able to afford housing in the Bay Area. Here’s how some listeners have weighed in …

 

  • ellen

    i gave up retirement. then i rethought that plan and moved away.

  • Lydia

    I’m 63. I’ve lived here 38 years. I live in a studio apt. I bought my first new sofa when I turned 60. I drive a ’96 Subaru “beater”. I mostly shop in thrift stores.

  • alona

    With a family of three in a rent controlled one-bedroom apt in SF, we give up another huge chunk of our salary to child care, no outside space, no space for inviting friends over, and all of our time is spent trying to keep our small space organized and livable. As our toddler grows, these factors start to weigh heavily on us. We will never be able to buy a home in the Bay Area, so when we do move out of our apartment, we will likely leave the Bay Area, because why pay double to triple our current rent for one more room and maybe a parking space. It is ridiculous and sad. I’ve been here 15 years, but it may be time to go back home to Oregon.

  • BYE BYE SF

    I just put a bid in for a House In RENO…. CANT WAIT TO LEAVE SF…. Politicians are Kooks and prices are insane. Had our Rent raised $800 a month and we live literally in a war zone on the edge of Section 8… Please Accept my offer so I can leave…..

  • thebayareaisexpensive

    $3600/month in Sunnyvale. With two, six-figure incomes living here still keeps us on a budget. While we could eventually afford to buy, neither of us really want to pay the $1 million it’d cost to buy a tiny house. Putting off having kids because daycare is a minimum $1,600.00/month. With student loans plus the cost of living, kids would cost too much.

    • OthersideofSunnyvale

      Here’s a contrast for you: $1750/month in Sunnyvale on two $25k incomes. Rent went up 7% last summer, but our salary stays the same. I asked the politicians running for city council what they were going to do about it. Most don’t see community instability, and the loss of ethnic and economic diversity as the crisis it is.

  • Not rich, but still happy

    We moved our family of 4 from South Bay to just inside East Bay, (Newark) so that we could afford to rent a 3 bedroom house. Its not a good looking place but the neighbors are kind and we have what we need. All of our furniture is dirt cheap from craigslist. We have one car that is ten years old and some, (not that much) consumer debt. We don’t do private school, we budget food and other goods and we just can’t do anything extra unless we plan in advance for it. Half our income goes to housing. But we love the Bay area and we’re a young family. Our careers have a lot of room for growth out here.

  • og_cheeky

    The only reason my boyfriend and I have stayed in the Bay Area is because it’s where our jobs are. They are good, stable, well-paying jobs (we earn more than $100K/yr, combined), with room to grow. I’m 30, so I am doing well in relation to my peers, but that’s only because none of us can afford a home or many of the things that our parents were able to when they moved to the Bay Area 30 or 40 years ago. My dad bought my childhood home in the 70s in Walnut Creek for $60,000. My parents sold that house in 1997 for nearly a $500,000, and it’s worth about $750,000 now. In my wildest dreams, we could still never afford a home, not even a fixer upper in a bad neighborhood. And we certainly cannot afford to have children- my career cannot take that hit. So I focus on putting away money into my retirement accounts.

  • Corry Frydlewicz

    I gave up living without roommates for living in a house with my wife and 4 other guys… ugh.

  • Bethany

    My husband’s sister and brother-in-law suggested we buy a duplex together. It seemed like a good idea.

  • Jiff Jeffries

    We live in a small apartment above a crazy lady who deep fries all her meals. Her kids are insane. Semi trucks barrel down our street at all hours off the night, smashing cats and crashing into shopping carts.

  • lynnht

    I’m living day to day with my two kids. We have a small, but decent apartment. I love their school & have so many great opportunities and friends here. We eat healthy, home cooked meals. We’re happy and get out a lot. I’ve given up – financial security & am in debt (with good credit so far, but that might change as the price of EVERYTHING seems to be going up), buying ANYTHING extra for myself, saving for a rainy day, etc… I don’t qualify for any assistance anywhere, but I don’t make enough to live without some anxiety.

  • Rachel

    At this moment, when the rent is due: my sanity!

  • Mo

    $1950/month in the Mission off 24th Street. It’s technically a 2 bedroom, but three of us live there. We got into our neighborhood about 5 years ago- just before it got popular. I’m last remaining master tenant. Landlady said she’d raise the rent to at least $2700 if I left.

  • KK

    I live in a 10×10′ room in a small house with two roommates that never dust or clean anything, and who let their friends crash in our living room almost every other night, and they use/eat/consume everything in the house like it’s theirs.
    Doesn’t help that I also get up every morning to go to a job that pays me about $25K less annually than what I should be pulling in, given my experience. It is a love-hate relationship with the bay area right now…leaning more towards the hate side.

  • Merggg

    I gave up a decent sized room in a beautiful new apartment and free parking @ $400/mo (in IOWA of all places) for the Bay Area 3 years ago. As a single person making $80,000/yr I couldn’t afford my tiny studio apartment and no parking spot with any sort of lifestyle in SF so I moved to the East Bay. I have again decent space and free street parking for ~$1500/month.

  • resident

    Family of 5. We have 4 graduate degrees from Stanford between us, a 6 figure income, but are still in training (residency). We had a 25% raise on the rent last year and expect more again, but salaries don’t budge. We have just decided we have to live on loans until training is done and are lucky to do that. My biggest question is the impact this economy has on children. Moving children from school to school is rather disruptive, especially for some children with specific needs or personalities. The housing assistance programs don’t cover the middle class and much of the area has no rent control/regulations. It makes it very difficult.

  • Cm Vigil April

    We pay $1950 for a two bedroom apartment in San Jose. Four of us guys aged 19-23. We got lucky with that too. I am also a full time college student and training for the USA track&field championships. I live off food stamps which run out by the end of the month always. All but maybe $100 of mine goes towards rent. Everything is expensive here so I live quite the bum life.

  • Lentilmama

    We eat a lot of beans, live paycheck to paycheck –am hoping Obamacare will help a bit since after mortgage and healthcare , not much is left for food and two kids’ needs….

  • Jenna S

    Half my monthly income went to my $1200 studio in the Tenderloin. Been there alost three years and I did it so I could have my own (albeit small and def. nothing fancy) personal space and keep my pets. Gave up my car (I miss that the most), going out, taking vacations, and plans for continued education. My boyfriend was paying the same at his studio so now we are two adults and two cats cramped into a studio while we save to get together a first month and deposit for atleast a one bedroom… Someday.

  • yallsuckers

    My family rents out our house in SF.
    Covers the mortgage on two other houses.
    Thanks!

    • Jed Wheeler

      Congratulations, your greed is the cause of all the suffering people described on this thread.

  • D

    I bought a house where houses are cheaper in San Jose, CA. I deal with
    the indignities of high crime and lack of police support. I
    sacrificed living in a decent area, yet spent close to half of a million
    dollars to live here. =/

  • Sara

    My partner and I share a studio in Downtown Oakland. We use our large walk-in closet as a bedroom (but also still a closet) so that we have space for a table to share meals together and with friends. We love our neighborhood and would enjoy more space, but high housing costs provide us incentive to live with less. We’re in our mid-twenties and right now space is an acceptable tradeoff for amazing food, weather, and community.

    • claudiagold

      Totally agree. Rent could definitely be lower (and we should probably build some highrises in downtown to increase supply) but it teaches us to live with less. It’s all part of living in the city. It’s a luxury to have more than a studio in NY, but millions of people still opt to live there because there’s no other place in America with that kind of energy and excitement.

  • Boo!

    The graveyard across the street keeps the rent for our 2 bedroom townhouse affordable at $2000/mo in Santa Clara

  • Dina

    I bolted to West Oakland almost 13 years ago when it really wasn’t that popular to live here, after going through hell in SF during that last DotCom boom. I’ve seen this neighborhood change dramatically, and enjoy living here, but now my rent has just increased 50%, and the Google bus stops one block away. I pray that my boyfriend and I can find a place together that is somewhat resonable!

  • njmich

    I will drive my car into the ground to defray the cost of my $4200/month rent for a 2br/2bath at Candlestick Point.

  • HappyonthePeninsula

    Doing fine on a solid 6 figure income, but we will never be able to retire here. Bought at top of the market and the taxes would eat us alive if we tried to stay.

  • Charles Templeplate

    I was just notified of another rent increase–the third in 13 months–which lifts my rent for a studio in Mt. View 50% since Dec. 2010. I chose the sub-optimal apt. because it is two blocks from my daughters’ home. It is only three blocks from their elementary school. I work a full-time and part-time job, which is harder than I ever worked in my 25 years of adulthood (and I earned my bachelor’s and Master’s degrees while working full time), but the bar for a simple, stable life keeps rising. I truly cannot get ahead. So, yeah, sure, I could move to a cheaper city, but I can’t really afford that, you know?

    What I’d like to know, and hear on Forum, is when do experts think this bubble is going to burst–and it’s got to be a bubble. What are these companies producing? Information? Social connectivity? Spyware?
    http://www.businessinsider.com/evidence-that-tech-sector-is-in-a-bubble-2013-11

  • SaveAllyouCan

    Wife and I are in our early 30’s and make $130k combined. Bought a home in Concord, CA for 415K. We put $83k down. Our mortgage+tax+ins is roughly $1,900/mo. We’re about 5mins from BART. As long as we don’t plan to move, we don’t have to worry about much increases. We are very fortunate.

  • Gareth

    I pay 1100 (No utilities) for a 1br apt in Santa Rosa and I know there are a lot more expensive ones.

  • Onefootoutthedoor

    Before taxes, my husband and I make about $150k/year. It’s enough to afford a studio near Alamo Square for $2200/month, but we recently had a baby. Now we need to factor in $1950/month for daycare. Everything we do is according to a strict budget. We only moved to SF 2 years ago, so we really don’t want to leave just yet, but as soon as we grow out of the studio, we will need to leave the Bay Area in order to find more space at a lower rent. We can’t sacrifice saving money for too long, and it just doesn’t make financial sense raising a child here if we can find similar salaries in another city or state. It’s too bad, because we really love SF, but I think it must be the worst city in the US for middle income earners! Just browse Craigslist for any other city and you’ll have a hard time even finding anything for the price of a 2-bedroom in the Bay Area.

  • tincankilla

    Move midwest! I visited a friend in St. Louis this summer. he has a 4 bedroom brick rowhouse built in 1904, renovated with classic details, hardwood floors, totally new kitchen with marble, garage in back, deck with hot tub, front yard, restaurants nearby. He paid $160K. Rents out three bedrooms and only pays utilities each month.

    And while the Bay Area may be a shining pearl, there are plenty of diamonds out there!

    • claudiagold

      I wouldn’t move to the midwest if I were given a million dollar house to live in for free.

      • Denise

        Your loss

  • claudiagold

    Yes it’s expensive, but many people make more than they would elsewhere. I paid $1000/month in Boston and now $2500/month in SF (sharing with my boyfriend in both cases), but the change in our income far more than makes up for that.

    • Denise

      Not even Chicago?

      • claudiagold

        I haven’t spent a lot of time in Chicago so I can’t say for sure. However, I like being close to other cities as well, and I’m not sure that Chicago would have that going for it.

  • Peter Andrews

    A little bit of my adulthood. I am a late-twenties professional with a six-figure salary and I have a roommate (tenant, but nevertheless I don’t keep anything resembling a savings account otherwise). I know this sounds obnoxious to to people in their 40’s and 50’s with roommates but I never thought I’d have roommates after college

  • Ugh

    I gave up processed foods, soda, gluten and dairy and now have to eat fresh vegetables, seasonal organic fruit and tons of fresh fish and steaks. I lost 15 lbs as a result and now have 6 pack abs.

    My rent stabilized 1,000 square foot apartment is three times bigger than what I had in NYC for half the price – and I have free parking nearby and bay views. I took two vacations in October and I save 50% of my salary. I have options at my company worth millions and who knows if I’ll ever see any cash from them but who cares because it’s the most interesting work I’ve ever done and I love it.

    It’s totally inappropriate for someone my age to be living like this.

  • Kymba Khan

    Huh. My household is two people with lots of books and hobby stuff. We’re in a *giant* 3br house with a huge lot for gardening in Richmond for $1500/mo. Walking distance to BART, partner works in SF, I work in Berkeley. When I read about someone with a 6 figure income commuting 2 hours each way all I can think is “money doesn’t mean SMART” and “you’re doing it wrong, son.”

  • Denise

    I pay $1,350 mortgage on a house I bought in 2009 in a less than desirable neighborhood, so I give up personal security. But my neighbors are awesome and I have a little garden and can finally have a dog.

  • jasfjljasl

    Real Estate prices are being inflated by the federal reserve’s purchases of mortgage backed securities using borrowed money that taxpayers will be forced to repay when this scheme eventually collapses. Our country’s prosperity is being strip-mined in order to “foam the runway” for banks that should have been allowed to fail back in 2008.

Author

Amanda Stupi

Amanda Stupi is an interactive producer for KQED News. She grew up in Northern California, where her mother would woo her inside on warm summer nights with promises of The Monkees and CHIPS. Stupi is fascinated with the intersection between popular culture and the fine arts. Her idea of artistic perfection includes The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Bull Durham, several episodes of Cheers, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and most of Wallace Stevens' poetry. Stupi's life goals include watching every episode of Law and Order, finishing a screenplay and thanking her mom in an Oscar acceptance speech.

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