July 14, 2016
Emily Fox, newly instated Morning Edition host at KUOW in Seattle, recently pondered the living conditions in the area. After discussing with her grandparents, who lived in Seattle, she concluded that the same middle-class lifestyle they enjoyed is impossible to attain today. Which isn’t surprising. What is a little shocking is how insanely impossible it is today.
From $16,000 to $1.5 million
Here’s her story:
“My late grandfather was an assistant math professor at Seattle University in the late 1950s. Shortly after that $20 a month apartment, he upgraded and bought a beautiful 3,000 square foot duplex in Capitol Hill for his wife, my mom and her three other siblings.
Grandpa was a fixer. He converted the duplex into a single family home that had five bedrooms and four bathrooms. He bought that house on one income, for about $16,000. That house is now worth more than $1.5 million.”
Adjusting for Inflation, Only Ten Houses Are Available Today
So, how would that same situation go down today? Fox talked to a realtor based out of Seattle, Claudette Meyer, to get the facts about the typical math professor’s options today, given the impact of inflation and housing market changes for those who live in Seattle:
“Assistant math professors at Seattle University today make about $60,000- $70,000 a year. In a kind of best case scenario, my grandpa would be able to afford a house that is about $320,000 in today’s world.
And in today’s world, Meyer said that would only give my grandfather about 10 options for houses on the market in the city today that he could afford.”
Also, the Houses Are Terrible
Nicole Dieker, editor of The Billfold, broke down the numbers farther. The ten houses in question were all in areas like Rainer Beach, making commute costs an additional burden for those who live in Seattle:
“A person making a daily commute to Seattle University could expect a 20 to 40-minute drive each way, depending on whether they hit rush hour. Public transport would take an hour, require two buses and a streetcar, and would cost $4.75 each trip. (That’s $237.50 a month, assuming 25 workdays per month. Of course, this hypothetical person might decide to walk a mile out of the way to take the 9 express bus, and only pay $2.50 per trip. Gotta rack up those FitBit steps and/or catch Pokemon Go.)”
And, of course, we know who to blame for the income gap leading to this market inflation: tech people. But on the bright side, ten middle-income people can still live in Seattle. That’s sure something.
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