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Rent Is Too Damn High: Are You For Real (Estate)?

Stuart Miles/freedigitalimages.net

We’ve all heard about women marrying folks they didn’t love in order to get a green card.

Now that I’ve gotten the terms for my upcoming lease renewal, I’m almost ready to jump the broom so I can split the rent or mortgage with someone who will give me penis on the regular. But of course marriage is not that simple, but this is the one time where I feel like being an independent woman is a burden.

The reality and the pressure of being 30 that I bragged about not quite feeling yet, I’m totally feeling in the regard to home ownership. One of my dearest friends has owned her beautiful home since the age of 26. She wavers between loving her place and hating having to pay for it and the hassles that come with trying to refinance and haggle for better interest rates. I’ve long been jealous of her, and she’s often told me not to be and that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and she’d gladly trade places. She even offered a house swap for a few months, where we pay each other’s bills.

My friend makes significantly more than me, but being a single woman, she can easily share the sentiment that handling all these bills alone is tough and stressful.

Honestly, I thought I would be out of my apartment by now. Especially two years ago when I was happily apartment hunting with my fiance in the suburbs of Chicago, eager to split the bills. It was one of the parts of marriage we both looked forward to most.

I actually cussed my ex last year when I had to sign my new lease and pay a whopping additional $80 a month to stay. I was literally cussing him and blaming him for the rent increase even though he had nothing to do with it and could not hear me. But my point was, if things didn’t fall apart, we would have been in marital bliss, splitting the bills and spending our disposable income on fun trips and furnishing this great home.

As for my place, yes, I got in on a fantastic deal nearly six years ago, and some would argue my new proposed rent would be closer to market value.

I still don’t care. I’m paying too much to live here. (And no, I’m not going to get a roommate. This is a non-negotiable)

Here’s why.

My community isn’t horrible, but it isn’t utopia.

There are occasional crimes that occur. I have heard gunshots twice in the time I’ve been here, and there are so many damn children and for some reason they love to congregate in front of my building.

The other problem is since I live in a mixed community of young professionals, families, older people and other folks of varying socioeconomic backgrounds,  I’ve overheard people who I presume to be on government assistance paying hundreds of dollars less than me to live in larger apartments with more bedrooms.

I’m sorry, but middle class Americans trying to rise are the main ones who get jerked and taxed to death and then are deemed ineligible for social assistance because we make too much, because we aren’t in complete poverty. And I’m not saying that those in complete poverty should not get help, because they should, but let’s face it. Most middle class folks are one paycheck away from poverty themselves between all of the rising fees they have to pay for groceries and gas and RENT!!!

I drive a 12-year-old car and I don’t have cable people. I’m trying, I’ve been sacrificing!!!

So I feel the sting every time lease renewal season comes around.

And every time, I reassess my situation and every year I think about what a pain in the ass it would be to move.

Then I think  if I move to a nicer, more expensive apartment community, what will happen to me if the rent increases while living there? Yes, I wrote yesterday about getting a raise, so I shouldn’t care about the increase or the increase shouldn’t hurt as badly. But damn it raise or not, I’m not a fan.

Honestly, over the last six years from what I’ve paid in rent, I could have had about 75 percent of the least expensive condos in my area already paid off by now. And that hurts.

So why didn’t I buy sooner? Well, I spent the last five years getting out of debt and trying to improve my credit while working my way hope getting small incremental raises (keep in mind I chose journalism as a career, so I didn’t get an amazing salary out of school like my other friends who chose other, more lucrative professions).

I have to get my ish together and join the ranks of the homeowners. Fixing my own plumbing, electric and all of that stuff scares me. But what scares me most are property taxes. They are no joke.

And as a woman who spent the earlier part of her 20s moving around the country, buying a home will truly signify that I’ve planted roots…for the next 30 years (or 15 if I want to pay a whole lot more money a month).

It had to happen some time, so now I’ve got to get it in gear and for real.

I need to get with a great program that helps first time home buyers and I’ve got to save, save, save and sacrifice to accumulate a half way decent down payment.

I can’t go nuts and be unrealistic about what I can and cannot afford, but I refuse to buy a hell hole I have to keep dumping money in just to improve.

There’s also no point in me buying a house, house with a lawn and such.

A gal like me needs a simple, modest condo.

So let the games begin. 30. It’s so real (estate).

Take it away Luther…A house is not a home, but an apartment ain’t truly yours either.

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