Things were really going well for me in 2000. I loved my job, I was teaching beadwork 2-3 times per month, I was writing for a magazine, and publishing books. I was also doing 10-12 shows per year. Jasmine was doing very well in school. And Steve and I were enjoying our time together.
Yes, everything was going well. Except there was just one little “problem”. In 1999, the San Jose area (and the San Francisco Bay Area in general) was experiencing a major boom due to the dot-com businesses. Prices of everything were sky rocketing, especially housing.
In 1995, when I moved into the town house I was renting, I was paying $1025 per month. It was priced at about $300 under market because the landlord wanted someone who would stay a while and not move out a year later. I was thrilled that he chose Jasmine and I to live there over several other applicants. It was close to her school, in a great area and had a 2 car garage. There was a community pool. I would have stayed there for many, many years. I was really happy to be there.
Every year that I was there, the rent increased. The first year it was only $25, but later years it increased by much more. I don’t blame the landlord at all, it was his business, not a charity case for me. And even with the increases, the rent was still way below market value for the place.
When the rent hit over $1600 per month, I was faced with a cash flow problem since my salary didn’t even have a cost of living increase for many years. What should I do? The “obvious” solution you would think would be to move to another place. But the average 2 bedroom apartment of about 1200 sq ft with a carport was going for about the same price. I had an 1800 sq ft townhouse with 3 bedrooms and a 2 car garage. Where could I go? Once again, the temporary solution was to find a roommate while I decided what to do.
My first roommate this time around was Insu. Insu was from Korea working for Samsung. His wife and daughter were still in Korea and he was working through the steps of getting his family to the US. The rent was going to be paid by Samsung, so I would never have to worry about payment of the rent.
I loved Insu. He was a total delight. We talked about our cultures and the differences. He talked about his family who he loved so much. Insu was a perfect roommate. We enjoyed each other’s company and learning about each other. I eventually got to meet his wife and young daughter and they were wonderful too. When he left 6 months later due to a transfer, I was really sad. We still have the occasional email just to say hi, even after all this time.
Next came Raj. He too was working for a computer company and he was from India. Raj was much more reserved. He was friendly but not as much as Insu. He was only going to stay for 4 months, then he would go back to India. He was counting down the time to go back home since he was to be married.
During the time that Insu was living with me, I needed to make a decision, and I needed to make it fairly fast. My rent had gone up to $1875 (still under the market price of $2600). I was really beside myself as to what to do. One bedroom apartments were averaging $1700 at that time. Even in taking a 1 bedroom apartment, I would not be saving anything, as I would need to put my boxes of books into a storage facility.
I didn’t have much of a savings Actually, I didn’t have any. I was pretty much living month to month. Even so, I thought of trying to buy my own place since I could do so with 100% financing by borrowing from my retirement account. Two bedroom condos were going for $300,000-$400,000. I would never qualify on my salary.
I started looking at the possibility of buying a trailer. Trailers in a nice trailer park (and there were several really nice ones in the San Jose area) were going for $150,000 and up, with a $400 and up space rent.
I really wanted to stay in the San Jose area. I loved it there. I had everything going for me, as I said. My job, teaching, shows, Jasmine loved her school and by this time she was a junior in high school. The advice I received from most people was to stay away from trailers, they depreciated in value and getting a loan to buy one since I had no money for a down payment would be nearly impossible.
Discouraged beyond belief, I was faced with two options. 1. To look for a job outside of California where there is more affordable housing, and perhaps a decent salary. This was not a good option. I did not want to leave CA. First because I really like living in CA, and second, I did not want to take Jasmine too far away from her dad.
The second option was to see if I could get a transfer to Modesto. Modesto had a much lower cost of living. I would stay with the same job, getting the same pay, keep my time and retirement, and it was 85 miles away from San Jose, so Jasmine still could go see her dad on weekends when she wanted to.
I knew I would not like Modesto, but it seemed like it was the only solution that I had. The district manager of the Modesto office had been trying to lure me away from San Jose for sometime, and I turned my nose up on several occasions. Now, I was ready to take his bait and see if the State would agree to my transfer. Just because the District Manager wanted me in the Modesto Office, did not mean that it would happen. We jumped through the hoops, and my transfer was approved.
The last 4 months of my time in San Jose, I would spend time going to Modesto to go house hunting on weekends. House hunting is not a fun process especially when you feel you are under pressure to find something, and moving to an area you really do not want to go to.
Long story short on this, I of course did find a place. It is the house I still live in. The amazing thing is that even with 100% financing, my mortgage is several hundred less than what my rent was.
Once again, it was time for a Uhaul and a move to a new area.