Terry and I are hanging out in San Mateo this week, helping our daughter with Vacation Bible School. She directs; we follow. Terry runs the sound board and takes photos; I run a rotation where the kids watch a short video and learn a Bible verse. In the afternoons we take care of our small grandchildren at their home, which is only a half block from the church where our daughter works.
For those of you who may not know this area, San Mateo is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco. And like San Francisco, it is a very expensive place to live. The house where our daughter and family lives is about 70 years old, owned by a church member, and has another house attached to it. That is the way of so many of the homes in the area. They have a rental unit attached. The rental unit often has three generations living in it. The streets are so congested with parked cars because no one uses their garage for parking a car. Rents are very high. Everything is very high.
As of June 2016, average apartment rent within the city of of San Mateo, CA is $3043. One bedroom apartments in San Mateo rent for $2629 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $3383.
We went to dinner this evening at a favorite hamburger joint in downtown San Mateo. For the last year or so we would order two burgers, a basket of onion rings, and one beer for $20. Tonight that dinner was $26. Minimum wage has gone to $10 in California, which is a good thing for the working poor. But, even at $10 an hour I wonder how people live here.
Yesterday we ate dinner at a franchise–Panda Express–in another expensive area, Foster City. The average house price is $700,000. I watched the customers coming and going. Most were families, multi-generational. A few people appeared to have just left work and were picking up dinner. I wanted to ask them, “How can you afford to live here? What do you do for a living?”
This evening as we ate our hamburgers, an older fellow in a wheelchair came in to have his dinner, wearing old slippers, a torn shirt, and dirty trousers. I wondered how a handicapped person manages the cost of living in such an area. Our daughter told us of a friend who has been hospitalized with a staph infection and unable to work for over a year. Her disability check is only $600 a month. She is talking of moving to Sacramento.
Costs are much less in the San Joaquin Valley where we live. As of June 2016, average apartment rent within the city of of Fresno, CA is $902. One bedroom apartments in Fresno rent for $775 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $896.
But I wonder how anyone who is handicapped, ill, or on a fixed income (like retired people) can manage to live in these high cost areas like San Mateo and San Francisco.