After bouncing around on this for a while, Sue and I have decided to relocate. Within the next several months, we will move to Connecticut, near where I grew up, outside Hartford. Sue is at the top of her game in accounting, such skills are in short supply, and insurance companies (Hartford has many) need auditors. She should have no problem finding something, and I can work anywhere there’s a net feed.
L.A. has its charms, but the ever-increasing traffic and stratospheric housing prices make it increasingly difficult to live here. They feed on each other. Bad traffic means you want to live near, say, the Westside or downtown, and that drives housing prices up in those areas.
I mentioned recently to a friend via cell phone that we were relocating and traffic was a major reason. He said, yeah, I’ve been stuck for 20 minutes in what used to be a good shortcut out of Hollywood and traffic isn’t moving. This on a surface street on a Saturday afternoon. Drives that used to take 15-20 minutes now routinely 45 minutes to an hour. Sue’s 17 mile commute to a client on the Westside takes 60-90 minutes each way. This is ‘normal’ for L.A. traffic, where freeways and surface streets can be bumper-to-bumper any time, any day. And it gets steadily worse every month.
Could we buy a home where her clients are? Not really. Sue had a realtor friend check. A 1300 sq ft. fixer on 1/8 acre next to a freeway in a slightly dicey part of the Westside is $750,000. That’s not a typo, and that’s a low-end price.
Where we’re moving to has 2,200 sq ft homes on 1/2 acre in the semi-country for $270,000. Hartford is 20 minutes away during rush hour.
We’re fortunate enough to be able to make a move like this. Those without financial resources (like the equity we have in our home) have few options. Most in L.A. rent, and the average 2 bdr apartment is $1500 a month now. HUD says no more than 30% of gross income should go to rent or mortgage. If so, then $1,500 a month rent means you should be earning $60,000 a year, and you know that’s not happening most of the time. Instead, people get squeezed by rents and have little left over.
Affordable housing and workable mass transit need to be available to all. This would benefit everyone long term. Instead, we have a city like Los Angeles that is careening towards permanent gridlock as it fragments into the very wealthy living in guarded enclaves while the rest barely make it from paycheck to paycheck and the middle class disappears.
We have an economic system where a very few get richer and everyone else has to scramble. What we need is an economic system that puts the needs of people, not the profits of a few, first.