I’ve lived in a suburb of Los Angeles all of my life. Growing up, I lived in a house with my parents in a modest middle-class neighborhood that today I’m priced out of with homes starting around $500,000. When I became an adult, I moved into apartments with roommates, then with my husband. All the while, rent increased with each move. Now at the time, that made sense to me. Rent would increase every couple of years as I also increased the square footage of the unit with each move.
However, I’ve known for a few years now that Los Angeles is just not a very affordable city for median income earners like myself. I’ve stayed because I have roots here and a good job, and it’s also what I know. Yet, recent news stories are popping up on television and in articles online that justify what I’ve known for a while – Los Angeles is one of the most expensive cities in the nation, especially when it comes to housing.
Rent in particular is the topic of discussion – for most people in Los Angeles, rent is eating up 47% of their income. Low income housing is becoming hard to find and some rent-controlled apartment complexes are evicting their tenants to build luxury apartments in their place. Basically, Los Angeles is becoming a city of have’s and have-not’s with absolutely no middle class.
I don’t want to sound doom and gloom as I’ve been fortunate over the past three years with my rent staying as-is with each lease agreement. However, my building recently increased rent to new tenants by $200 a month or 9%. I’m a little worried that when I renew my lease in the fall, my rent might increase as well which would eat up more of my income. Using rules-of-thumb as a guide to what I can afford, no more than 30% of my income should be applied towards rent or housing. Currently, I’m paying 34% which is above the recommended amount.
Gee, Los Angeles, I love your weather but I’m beginning to think it’s just not worth the cost!
KPCC radio is putting together a series on how high rent in Los Angeles is hurting the economy and included an interactive map of how much people are paying for rent based on a percentage of income. It’s quite eye-opening.
Since I’m more of a solutions person than a “The Sky is Falling!” kind of gal, my options include moving farther away from the city to places where rent and housing are a little more affordable, or making a big move out of state which I’ve started to consider over the past few years. There are a lot of factors to consider with both options, but in the long run it might make sense to move to a more affordable area even if it means a lower income.
Have rents increased in your area? Is housing more or less affordable now than before the recession?