I moved to Jefferson County with my teenage daughter this past August when I got a job with Jefferson Community Foundation. In the months since moving here, I have experienced both the disheartening struggle of finding a place to rent, as well as the kindness of people who barely know me.
I used to own my home, but I lost it during the recession. Before moving here I lived in south Seattle, where I paid $2,000/month for a three bedroom house. My daughter lives with me full time, and my sons visit every other weekend, so having at least two bedrooms is right for our family. Given my wage here, I should be paying about $1,200 per month on rent. When I first started looking for a rental I could find the right type of spot for around that much, and I passed up a few options because I wanted to find the right place. After just four months the prices for what I need had risen to being in the range of $1,500 – $1,800.
During my search I found one rental, a perfect spot, centrally located in Port Townsend, with just enough room and only a little above my price range. I contacted the landlord, and then followed up a few days later, only to find out that she had decided to rent to someone who could pay for the whole year up front – a person who lives in Seattle, but wants to be able to visit regularly. Now, that house is empty most of the time and the person who gets to call it ‘home’ is not someone who contributes to our community. It is disheartening that most often the choices that benefit an individual end up detracting from community vibrancy.
During our months of searching, my daughter and I jumped around. We stayed with new friends, people I had met since moving here, a hotel, house-sat for several kind people, and even moved in with Siobhan Canty. Between the start of school and December, my daughter had slept in nine different beds in Jefferson County. She is very private and didn’t want anyone at school to know, but it started to affect her grades and emotional wellbeing.
We have finally found a place to rent, through word-of-mouth. We are so grateful. However, every month I’m paying $400 more than what my wage supports, which limits my ability to save money to buy a home. My desire is to break the rent burden cycle and become a homeowner again as I think forward to retirement age. I moved to Jefferson County because I love it here and I want to contribute to the community.