Beautiful 2 bedroom cape, crack den neighborhood, no extras, $500,000

May 31, 2004

… and now a rant about housing.

Dave and I want to buy a house. We have a decent combined income and would be great home owners. The problem? Housing prices in the Boston metro area, hell in the entire state of Massachusetts, are absolutely INSANE.
For example… in browsing the housing in the area, skipping over the areas that are just too dangerous to live in, I come up with this:

3 bedroom, 1 bath, Single Family Property, Area: West Roxbury, Approximately 0.09 acre(s), Year built: 1920, Detached home, Basement, Fireplace, Dining room $369,900

Now.. I’m really not being too picky here. This is not even a pretty house. Just a decent neighborhood and at least 3 bedrooms. Three Hundred and friggin sixty nine thousand dollars. NOW .. there is always the condo option.. but wait! Condos are running around the same price. For the same $369k … I could own my very own apartment with no yard and no parking PLUS I’d still have to live by someone else’s (condo association) rules! What a deal!

OK .. well .. Dave and I can continue renting for a while, right? Well not if we want to have a child. Why? Massachusetts Lead Laws. All pre 1978 housing (which is 95% of the housing market available for rent) has lead paint unless it is made compliant by de-leading. The majority of rental housing in the Boston area is NOT de-leaded. There is some low income, housing subsidy program housing that is, but that isnt where we want to live. It is illegal under the fair housing act to discriminate against families with children in a rental situation. It is also the landlords responsibility to de-lead if a pregnant woman or a child under six resides in the unit (at the cost of about $30k and a three month time span). As a result, landlords find other reasons to deny tenancy.. “I dont allow cats”. “Sorry, we received an application just before yours that we accepted”. “We’ve decided not to rent the unit afterall”. The units that are already deleaded, and there are some nice ones, are expensive. Landlords jack up the price for a de-leaded unit because they know that they can get it from, at the very least, students (fellows and residents) with their families here for 1-2 years at a time. Our sister-in-law’s sister has a nice house about an hour away that they may want to rent, we’d love to live there.. but we cant afford the $2000/month rental price. We cant even rent from people we know. We pay $1400/month now.. which is more than plenty of mortgages out there… and expensive.

What about Milwaukee? Well, we’d love to move there and buy a house!! We cant find jobs.. why? Because we dont live there. Over and over we see “local candidates only” I’ve flown to Milwaukee 5 times for interviews and I just cant afford it anymore. I’m not even getting responses anymore from my resume.

Arent you thinking of Providence, RI and commuting? Yes.. but we’re still talking about $250k AND we’d both have to commute to Boston. We’re still thinking about that and we’re not even sure we can even qualify for a mortgage or have a down payment for something that high.

We want to have a family and we’re being prevented from doing so because of housing.

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