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Even professionals struggle with housing costs

Original post made on Sep 17, 2013

In a city where rents seem to be climbing higher each week, a single mother of three says she is struggling to find a decent place to live -- even with her $70,000-a-year salary.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 10:41 AM

Comments (19)

Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

How sad and scary to read about the escalating cost of housing in the area, most particularly the skyrocketing rents. Situations like this are not good for a community; the only one benefiting (for the moment, at least) are the greedy landlords.

Posted by Some benefits
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Well, it's not exactly true the only people benefiting are greedy landlords. My family has benefited because the schools are getting better. When we first bought our townhome the school wasn't very good, but it's gotten a lot better and now by the time my kids will start next year the school is pretty good. Which is lucky for us since we couldn't afford to move to a better school district now.

You are free to argue that the positives of better schools for those of us who can stay (even if we're not rich) don't outweigh the negatives of some original residents being displaced (and I may not disagree with you entirely) but for my personal situation we actually have benefited and I'm not a landlord. I'm sure I'm not the only one enjoying this benefit. Changes like this are always a double-edged sword - good for some, bad for others.

Posted by Mcbutters
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm

LOL @ the people who are paying $2,885 for a studio apartment. Oooh look at that view of Walmart. Isn't it spectacular!!! LOL.

Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Blaming "greedy" landlords doesn't help. To those who do: when was the last time you turned down a raise? If you didn't, why should landlords?

Having said that, the rental situation is terrible. What we need is freer zoning, more housing and more walkable developments. Increasing supply is the only way to sustainably lower prices.

Posted by hmax
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Oh yeah, Thank You Google...the Evil Empire casts its dark shadow which is choking Mountain View...devoid of any personality with its workforce of thousands of automotons ever increasing and pushing decent people out of the area...apparently History hasn't been taught in schools for decades otherwise they could see how it's going to end up...brings to mind Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" published circa 1932...Silicon Valley of the Dead

Posted by garibaldik
a resident of Gemello
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm

it is easy to call this demand and supply, market demand, free makret, etc...but when this bubble does burst, lot of these complex owners will have tons of vacancies and they will simply become ruins and they will become eye sour. there is so much of speculation..not all these companies are going to succeed. it is deja vu, Bubble 2.0. BTW, 70K is not much of money these days especially with 3 grown up kids. I feel sorry for the lady and as a family she can't live with strangers unlike Many single people who live with room mates in many of these one bedroom and two bedroom apartments and that is the only way many people can afford to live in MtnView and close to their work place.

Posted by Member
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm

@Some benefits: It's a sad reality that "enjoying the benefit of better schools" is a phrase that is even muttered in our society. Every child in every community should be able to attend a 'good school', and it is a very sad state that we are 'enjoying the benefit’ while the other qualities of our lives are paying the price.

I moved here in 1999 and rented a 2x2 duplex on Sylvan and the rent was $1,600 a month (and had to have a roommate to afford it). I thought rent was outrageous then (and THAT was at the height of the boom at that time, where you would show up to view a unit and there would be 50 people standing in the yard!). But as a single parent with a job offer, how could I turn it down? That same duplex is now renting for $2,800 a month.

I am sure that most single parents will agree that providing our children with stability is more challenging than that of two parent households, and it is our greatest priority. So we hold on, cut back where we have to, work more than one job and pray that we can keep paying the greedy rents until we can move on.

My kid graduates in 2015 and I cannot WAIT to get the heck out of this town!! Unfortunately that means I'll have to find another job, in another city (perhaps another state) BEFORE I can move. I'm sure I am not the only person who is too busy paying for food, rent and the necessities of life in lieu of building up a six month cushion that would allow me a financially free transition.

I'll be 52 when she graduates. I will lose any seniority in my current position by vacating it and I’ll be competing against twenty-something’s in the hiring process. Gee, won’t that be freak’n fun?!?

And to Martin Omander – could you possibly BE one of those greedy landlords on the defensive? The average pay raise for 2013 is projected to average just 2.9 percent, according to Forbes’ citation of the U.S. Compensation and Planning Survey. Landlords can raise their rents whenever they want (unless locked in to a long term lease). They have the freedom to write a month to month lease, which allows them to increase their rent by whatever amount they want, as often as they want, as long as proper & legal notice is served on a tenant. I guarantee you, in this market; Landlords are raising their rent more than 2.9 percent a year.

Posted by Swatch watch
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

My rent has increased 30% in 3 years, living in a tiny townhouse complex. It sucks and so does the landlord.

Posted by Private schools
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm

"Every child in every community should be able to attend a 'good school'"

They can if they go to private schools.

What is free is no longer of value to most. ie public schools

Posted by Risks
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Landlords also go through vacancy periods where they bring in $0. Sort of like being fired on short notice with no option of jumping to another job (unless you want to sell a below-water property). And if the landlord still carries a mortgage, that monthly bill doesn't go away. Similar for insurance, etc.

Even if a unit is vacant for 2 months, that's 17% of the year, and would be a 17% decrease in year-to-year income.

Easy to blame landlords, but they're carrying the risk.

Is this going to be a news story for the Voice once a month?

Posted by Member
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm

@ Private schools - Forgive my assumption, but are you saying only private school are good? If so, it only strengthens my statement that "Every child in every community should be able to attend a 'good school'". 'Good' does not mean 'excellent', 'outstanding' or 'above average'. But this is another conversation for another day.

Today's topic is struggling to pay rent in a greedy landlord market.

Posted by myob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Say you own a house or apartment you'd like to rent out. You have a line of people out the door, and you know that you can get, say $3,000 for it per month. A single mom with three kids stops by and says all she can afford to pay is $2,500 per month. You have a choice now: you can rent to her and be a nice person and miss out on $6,000/year, or you take the higher rent a bunch of other people are willing to pay. I think when it comes to personal finance, most people, no matter how good and noble and non-greedy they consider themselves, will take the money. Oh, and if you take the lower offer from the mom, you're also likely in breach of fair housing laws and could be sued, especially if one of the people who you turned away at a higher price is in a protected group (basically, not a white man).

Don't go blaming those soulless Google people either. I've lived in Mountain View for fifteen years now. Before Google, LinkedIn, Intuit and others brought a lot of jobs here, downtown was basically dead. Today, it's much more vibrant, under active development, and as the businesses here do better, so do their owners and their employees.

Wealth coming into an area is always a good thing, what's needed is more housing to increase supply and drop prices, but existing home owners fight that tooth and nail, since it's a good idea to have cheaper high density housing, just nowhere near them. Homeowners need to get out of the way, the city council needs to get out of the way, and allow the city to grow.

Posted by Mel
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm

@myob - As a property management professonal, I can confidently say that a home owner cannot be sued for accepting an offer that is lower than they originally marketed the home, nor can they be sued for accepting a higher offer (it's called negotiating and it's done all the time).

A landlord can be sued for discrimination (race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc...). The amount the rent is does not fall under any of those catagories. A landlord can charge a buck a month if they so choose.

Posted by AC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 17, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I am one of the soulless Googlers (well I am not in Google but in a small-ish company, but I benefit from the boom). I will probably move out of MV soon... when I rented here I got ~1700 400-500ft (large) studio with W/D and other perks. However my friend who tried to move lately (less than a year later) was quoted like 2400 or something for one bedroom.
Why pay 2400 to live in a so-so place with asbestos warnings, if I can pay 2800 in SOMA. $400 is not nothing but for 15~% you can get a miles better apartment AND environment for just about everything except raising kids (which I don't have) and communing (reading on Caltrain all the way :))

Posted by @myob
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Yes, you want more and more people, with more and more cars and traffic. Really smart idea, NOT!!

If this tech bubble that we are once again in bursts, the developers will be holding bag, while no one will rent. Remember, all bubbles eventually burst.

Posted by Adam Smith
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

Rents around here are out of control! My roomates and I searched for an entire month but could find nothing affordable. We tried Hillsborough, Woodside, Atherton, even Los Altos Hills. We were FORCED to rent an apartment near San Jose State.

Posted by Amelia
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

Three children and no support from the father? That's an outrage! Is it even legal for a parent not to provide financial support for their kids?

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Google for its greatness as a company that is growing, investing in new ideas and products which means jobs. When is creating jobs a bad thing, when do creating wealth by selling a product or space on a product a bad thing. Look at how some of the banks and the housing bubble that was created? You know what I won't even go there.

Google is not the only player in Mountain View and the Silicon Valley. Every week I search and pick up a paper and read something about Mountain View. Maybe we should stop people from buying anything from Mountain View because fear of someone who works in Mountain View. Might have to get a place to live here.

What about all those other person that don't work for Google or some other tech business? They have to take their chance like everyone else in the tough housing market and wait till they all want to buy homes. The home prices here will soar to dazzling heights.

Posted by PamelaH
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Web Link

We moved out of my hometown, Mountain View last year to gorgeous Brentwood about an hour away, still able to commute. We bought a gorgeous new house for $399,000 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 story in a GATED community. My son walks to a fabulous school and the culture is more conducive to raising kids. VERY friendly people, they don't flip you off, they are kind, courteous - just not like my old Mtn View. My son is getting a better education up here too. I would get out of that sad town - all of Silicon Valley SUCKS. I miss family, but we are so glad to have moved here! Brentwood is more laid back, friendly people, 10 minutes from the Delta for boating and fishing .....awesome! We paid $2600/mo for an apartment in Mt View last year, INSANE!!! We were tossing our money away. Get smart and get out of dodge.

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