How can you afford to live here?

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.

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13 responses to “How can you afford to live here?

  1. Those prices are insane! The apartment I rented in Long Beach was a one bedroom with loft, which was like two bedrooms, had a high ceiling, 7 blocks from the beach, and downstairs were shops and stores, further down the street were all the hot restaurants. It rented for $750. It now rents for $3,000 a month, even though last I saw, shops and stores and the immediate area wasn’t as great as it was when I lived there. I guess it’s because of the beach. At any rate, I’ve been wondering not only HOW folks can afford it but WHY. Seems if you have that kind of money on a monthly basis, you’d invest in a home.

    • Homes in the Bay Area are expensive. Most around a million dollars. That’s $200K for a down payment and $8K a month for a house payment.

  2. Wow the rent is expensive, much better in your area. My sister lives in Palo Alto another insane neighbourhood.

  3. We went to church when we were last visiting in Mountain View. Before the Mass started we had a short presentation from a member of the St. Vincent de Paul organization (a group who helps people in financial distress) about a long-time older woman who’d had such a large rent increase she was selling off her possessions in order to pay her bills. Very sad.

  4. It’s horrible to think of having to pay those rents. I don’t even get that much every month here in retirement. I will stop grumbling about the rent I pay. Impossible for those on a fixed income. Very sad. 😦

    • Some older people can move into senior housing that has rent based on income but there aren’t many of those places b/c landowners can get high rents

  5. Yes, I read about those rental rates. Here in my neighborhood a 2 bedroom one bath goes for about 3,000 a month. Even Sears single walled cottages are in the million. I say thank you twenty times a day that we bought this place when prices were very low. Then I say thank you again that my G refinanced just as everything crashed last time. I hope your daughter can afford to life there in some degree of comfort.

    • The only time we refinanced the house was to get a lower percentage rate and shorter terms so as to pay it off sooner. The house and cars were paid off when I retired, the only way I could do it. We would not be able to survive if we had to pay rent or pay a mortgage.

  6. High rents and high mortgages are old news here in Hawaii.

    • Yep! Again, my question would be how do you afford to live there? Here in Silicon Valley we have lots of tech money. How do teachers, garbage collectors, hotel staff afford it?

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