I feel for Mala, who is struggling, as I am, to find decent affordable housing in Washington. She posts an example of a large one-bedroom condo in Adams Morgan that's listed for $536,900. In most cities that would buy you a few good-sized single-family homes; here, it's good for a stinking one-bedroom condo.
Who the hell can afford to buy these damn things? Well, I guess somebody can; just nobody I know.
I come back to this topic a lot, because it's the thing that frustrates me the most about living in Washington. I would love to own a home; obviously, it's one of those American dreams that everyone aspires to, and it's one of mine as well. This seems like a great time for me to buy a new home. Interest rates are crazy low at the moment. I have a decent job, where I get paid a pretty good amount of money to do not much at all. Hell, I'm earning more than my father; that fucking blows my mind. And this is all at a time when the economy is down and unemployment is high, which would seem to reduce demand for new housing and keep prices low. It would seem to be the perfect environment for me to buy a house or condo.
And yet, I can't even put together enough money for a down payment. It's not just the hot neighborhoods like Adams Morgan that are out of reach; even houses and condos for sale in unexciting Northern Virginia are priced out of my market.
(Seriously, why is it so expensive to live in McLean? The only entertainment I can think of is toilet papering Pat Buchanan's house. And that's only going to be fun once. Probably.)
Plus, the rent on my slum-like two bedroom apartment (whoa, somebody gave it a positive review recently) is $1,035, which is actually cheap for the neighborhood, but still too much for me to be able to save anything. OK, granted, I go on a lot of vacations, but other than that I don't spend a lot of money; I'm not in any debt except for student loans; I'm pretty responsible with what I earn. But after working a steady job for almost two years, I'm still not any closer to owning a home than I was when I started.
So that's what makes me the most bitter. I worked hard through college and graduate school to ensure that I could provide for myself and my wife. And now that I'm finally in the exciting working world full-time, I can't scratch out the kind of living I want. And if I'm having this much trouble, I really feel for the people who are working the shit jobs that don't pay close to what I make; surely their hopes of owning a home here is forever non-existent.
This is also a reason why the "city living, dc style!!" promotion by the District cracks me up. They want to attract yuppies and empty-nesters who are just starting out, and those who would benefit from the District's first-time-homebuyer tax break. I'm a yuppie; I have no kids; and I know I can't afford a decent house in D.C., tax break or no (not that I would live there anyway... I'm too educated about what goes on in the District). I'm seriously thinking of marching down to the city living, dc style expo when it happens and bitching them out for trying to mislead people into thinking they can afford to live there in a safe neighborhood.
(Notice how the website, in its inimitable "selective capitalization" style, claims that "more than 30,000 housing units are either completed, under construction or planned—from affordable to market rate." Yeah, fuck you too, website.)
Those of you who are thinking of moving here: if you're looking to make an honest living and don't want to live paycheck-to-paycheck, do yourself a favor and don't move to Washington.