As many of you know, we are living rent-free. I hope this makes you very happy, and you don’t want to poison us out of pure spite. Our days of milk and honey are drawing to a close, though, as we have to move out by February 1st. And most places in this city charge rent.
I remember when I was living in Western Mass. and found a deluxe two-bedroom apartment for a whopping $600/month. Even split between two people, this seemed pretty exorbitant at the time. I spent several days hemming and hawing before I decided- “Hirsch, you’re worth it!”
Seven years later, $600 seems like poppycock, a down payment on half a San Francisco closet.
I’m still trying to piece together how people here do it. Besides a smattering of wealthy venture capitalists and Google techies, this city doesn’t seem to have the big-money industries to sustain the eye-gouging rents. $1500 as the starting price for a one-bedroom? “Maybe in Dubai!” I say, to no one in particular.
So that’s the situation SK and I face for our next step. We look through page after page of Craigslist ads that are seriously overpriced or overflawed. “$3,500 fixer-upper in the Outer Mission. Stoop guarded by five-headed demon dog and living room is underwater. On-street parking!”
That’s why we’ve started to be captivated by the siren song of Oakland, San Francisco’s rough-and-tumble neighbor across the bay. Reports are conflicting.
Some say Oakland is like Brooklyn circa 10 years ago, an up-and-coming city where all the real art and innovation is happening. Others say it’s an isolated crime-ridden cesspool with almost none of San Francisco’s charm or culture. One way or another, rent prices are about half what they are here.
SK sent me an Oakland listing this week with tons of space, sunlight, hardwood floors, washer/dryer, and a backyard garden with chickens. She was all aflutter at the possibilities, so I got caught up in the enthusiasm. I pictured a home office, which led me to think about quitting my job and freelancing full time, which led me to think about drinking coffee with chickens in the middle of the day…
Then I plugged the apartment’s address into Google street view. Apparently we are not the only ones interested in this place.