Personal: From Single Home to Apartment and Back Again
After a little over 10 years of living in a single-family home in Seattle, about 3 years ago my family of four made the decision to move to San Francisco for work. I selected the neighborhood (Dogpatch) for my family when we relocated because of its proximity to Potrero Hill and for its walkability. I was drawn to its down-to-earth neighborly vibe and it was appealing that it was built on solid rock since I’m a geology nerd. However, but weren’t able to find a rental easily for our family of four.
The apartment we eventually decided on was on a busy street and had a heavy amount of foot traffic. My son was 7 at the time, and we told him that he wasn’t allowed to just hang around outside on the street and explore like he had in our neighborhood in Seattle. A lot of it was due to the fact that we were new and felt alone. I had no idea who I lived next to us and I hadn’t built the ties that our old neighborhood had of looking out for each other and at least knowing my kid’s name in case something happened. Our neighbors in the apartments surrounding us were mainly young people who I assume by the cost of the rent were in the tech industry. Many of the windows had year-round lights strung across them and the scent of marijuana was ever-present; it felt like an extension of dorm rooms. We didn’t have air conditioning even though the complex was new (it never gets that hot in SF right?!) but the ventilation reliably sucked in a potent pot smell right into my kids’ bedroom while I was putting them to sleep many nights.
Once Covid hit, we had about 3 months left of our apartment lease. While I loved SF immensely, all we had for an outdoor space was a small cement patio where we could hang a hammock. We made the decision to come back to single home ownership in Seattle, and were fortunate to have that option. While I didn’t have a long experience in the apartment, it made me feel some of the pain points of living in a small space with my family. I also got a heavy, burdened, holy mother of all things real estate taste of the pain of paying for rent. It really sucked paying so much for SF rent; I wasn’t able to customize our space much, we paid extra for parking just so our windows wouldn’t get broken on a regular basis, and realized that at the end of the lease there was no control over the rent going up another X%. I got the feeling that many other people, not just me, wanted a lot more space and freedom.
It may seem trivial, but one of the other things that made me miss a single family home was having a decent kitchen range/stove. I’m guessing that the apartment construction committee at the Dogpatch apartment assumed that people would be too busy to do a lot of cooking in such a small space. We had an electric range after years of using an induction range. There were hot spots with the burners (exactly the center of every pan!), so that even with a cast iron fry pancakes would have to be rapidly turned in the middle and pancakes on the edges would stay raw. Our oven would regularly burn the top of a tray of roasted potatoes and leave the bottom soggy. No wonder some people might assume they’re bad cooks with equipment like this!
Just a sprinkling of information I read over the past week on housing:
Why isn’t anyone doing anything?
Hella lot of variables. I totally get the desire to own a house. I’m left with a general feeling with all of these articles that certainly something has to be done! But what? Prioritize low-income housing? Limit the single-family housing pool of real estate owned by large corporations to a smaller percentage? Build more affordable homes - but make sure they aren’t being built in an area that can’t supply enough water long term? Universal basic housing income? I DON’T KNOW. I am not an economist, realtor, or fiscal policy expert but this is some serious cow manure going on, folks.
the Punk Lady Apple Newsletter is written by Lorraine as a labor of love and a need to write. It is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.