A booming job market is good news, right? Normally, but in Northern California, a growing tech sector in an area plagued with limited housing inventory has made what should be progress decidedly more tricky.
“If you're going to be adding lots of jobs but not adding lots of housing it's inevitable that housing will get more expensive,” says Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of SPUR, a nonprofit public-policy research organization in the Bay Area.
Across the nation, rent climbed 3.3 percent between the start of 2013 and 2014. In the top 10 technology hubs, that increase was about 5.7 percent, according to research from real estate website, Trulia. In the priciest of these cities, San Francisco, the cost of rental units jumped 12.3 percent between 2013 and 2014. In August, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city had topped $3,000.
Jess Silber, a 26-year-old who works for a travel adventure company knows all too well how hard it is to find an affordable home in the Bay Area. Originally from Connecticut, Silber started plotting her move to the Bay while she was in Tanzania, working for an NGO and volunteering. When she arrived in 2012 she was, by her own admission, woefully naive about the realities of the market. “The intention was to stay with my great aunt and uncle for like a week or so while I found an apartment. But then that became three months,” Silber says, laughing at the memory. She quickly became acquainted with the demanding process of apartment-hunting, in which multiple application questionnaires and roommate interviews were commonplace in addition to the high cost.