We moved to an apartment complex last month from the condo we’d lived in for the last five years.
The 30-day notice we were given would have been sufficient five years ago. However, as we started our search for our new home, we were shocked to find just how radically changed the rental market was in five years. Rents are much higher, especially after you tabulate all the extras. The rental market is now very tight as demand is very high and supply is inadequate. People aren’t buying as many homes and, as a result, there are long wait-lists. All of the apartment complexes we contacted had no immediately available units. We had to wait four weeks to get into our apartment. Some of the places we contacted were taking deposits onJanuary 2015 rentals.
It used to be that if you had a pet, you could expect to be hit with a deposit. Now, not only is there a pet deposit, there is also a monthly pet rent fee, and it is per pet. Doggie rent will run anywhere from $30 to $75 per month, depending on the size and weight of the animal. Kitty rent is $25-$50. Expect the deposit to start at $500 per pet.
The complex we settled on is near our town’s tony shopping mall with its department stores, boutiques, and restaurants. The freeway is less than three minutes away. The hospital and medical complex are within walking distance.
During our initial visits, we were impressed by the manicured common areas and the layout of the units we saw. Since we visited during the day, we didn’t get to see our prospective neighbors. The complex seemed tranquil, well cared for.
A month later, the complex is still tranquil by day, and it is well cared-for. What surprised us is the sheer number of residents who live here. It seems that, aside from the familiar sight of young people sharing an apartment, the majority of units actually house multiple families. The unit closest to us is home to two couples, a child, and two single people, all sharing one spacious two bedroom apartment. All work in a service industry. All work very long hours. Above them, four cousins share a unit the same size. All are students who work full-time. Just about every unit on our block seems to be similarly occupied.
Clearly, the Great Recession economy still isn’t behind us. The low-wage service jobs that have been created since the worst of the recession just aren’t paying people enough to meet basic needs without making arrangements that one used to expect to make only during the college years and maybe at the start of a career.
We’re still in a depression. This is the new reality.