Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Do you want to be my neighbor?

If you're willing and able to pay $3500 a month, then you can move right across the street from me. Well, technically, you need $10,500 to get started since they want two months deposit plus the first month's rent upfront.

I know. That's a whole lot of cash. But, if you're just dying to move to LA and you happen to have the money sitting around collecting dust, then seriously, you should come be my neighbor.

Let me tell you a little bit about your potential new home. It's a small, one-story house that used to be so ridiculously run down that cobwebs and black cats hung off the front porch year round. I was never sure what color the house was before. After all, the paint looked like it used to be a peachy beige color, but it was covered with such a thick layer of dirt, that I just couldn't tell.

Some old lady that we never saw lived there for a long time. She bought that house around 25 years ago, back when houses went for $50K in this neighborhood instead of for $800K like they do now. And then she died and her kids chose to sell. The new owners decided to rehab and rent out the place.

These invisible owners hired these gross contractors to slap up some stucco siding on the outside and replace the windows. I've watched these guys work all summer, sweaty potbellies on full display. I was grateful when they migrated to the inside of the house. Eww.

This morning, I finally saw a big "For Rent" sign hanging out front. Since the door was open, I strolled over to check things out and ended up meeting the new owner. I told him I live across the street and asked if I could check the new and improved house out. He showed me around, proudly pointing out the hardwood floors and faux marble countertops. There are three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Gosh, I could really use that second bathroom about now because I am sooo fed up with living with three males who seem to need some Cheerios in the bowl for aiming purposes. There's also good storage space but in the bedrooms, the closets have those mirrored sliding doors. I positively hate mirrored sliding doors.

I also found out that whoever lived there would still have to pay all the utilities. And the big backyard that used to be behind the house? Well, they're building a small apartment building back there so the yard is completely gone. So if you're longing for grass and a garden, this might not be the place for you.

The owner asked me if I thought he was asking too much money for the place. I told him yes, the price seemed high to me. Then again, I shared that I moved to this neighborhood eight years ago, back when one bedroom apartments were $500 instead of $1800 and a two bedroom was $650, not $2400. He laughed and told me I was lucky I have rent control.

I absolutely agree.

He then told me he's pretty sure he'll have the place rented within a week, no problem.

I wonder. Has LA really come to this? Will folks really pay $3500 to live in a house with a torn up front yard, construction going on in the backyard, and mirrored closets?

I suppose so. Some trio of hip, young artsy types will move in. They'll maintain their LA slimness because they aren't eating. Nope, the money that would go to food will be going to pay the rent. They'll park vintage BMW's out front. They'll throw a party where someone strums an acoustic guitar and tries to channel Alanis Morrisette. They'll fall in love and then have very loud, public break-ups that I'll overhear at two in the morning.

Then they'll move away from LA, disillusioned with the sparkle and glitz that at one time seemed so promising.

Yes, the new landlord will have no problem renting that house. Folks will pay the money for the rent because the only "affordable" option is somewhere in South-Central LA. And, um, that's not really the hot neighborhood right now.

So come be my neighbor if you'd like to take a whirl. In eight years, it'll be your turn to marvel at someone else paying way too much for a place to live.


Ndelible said…
Hey, now I know South Central ain't happening, but it's my hood! The prices are so ridiculous these days, I'm stuck. Stuck, I'll tell ya!

Rents are amazingly expensive, the cost of a mortgage almost. That is, if you can find one in South Central. I think there is one down the street from me, on the other side of the rastafarian with really bad musical taste.

Yeah, I know, rastafarians with with no taste... And I don't think it's in their tastebuds either.

Ndel's World
Hey there Angelista. I've tried to document this topic in depth on my blog, which isnt as extreme as LA, but is a close runner up.

I feel your pain, as a single workin mama, who has yet to find an affordable rental that isnt a meth house.

Jameil said…
lmao. you are so funny. not lookin to part w/10k for rent at this time but thanks for askin!!
Liz Dwyer said…
Rents are waay out of control! The day when Compton is gentrified is coming! Everyone who can't afford a house is scrambling for the same "cool" neighborhoods that aren't an hour commute away from where they live. And yeah, if folks are going to pay that much in rent, maybe they should go ahead and buy...unless it's on the other side of a rastafarian with zero taste! :)

Yup, even in the so called "bad" neighborhoods in this city, prices are ridiculous. If I wanted to pay what I pay now thanks to rent control, I'd definitely be living in the hood. The thing is, this neighborhood was much more dangerous eight years ago. I think I just didn't know any better. I've never lived in the so-called good neighborhoods so it just seemed normal. Now that folks from the UK are starting to move in, that's when I know my neighborhood has REALLY changed.

Crazy thing is, that $10K is a down payment on a house in some parts of the country! But I love it here so I guess I'm staying put for now.
Ah consumer culture. America, we are eating our own tails. Does it taste good?
Anonymous said…
The same thing is happening all over NYC. I can't really afford to live here. And apparently I can't afford to live in L.A. either.
Liz Dwyer said…
Every couple of weeks I meet someone who's hightailing it to Utah or North Dakota because they're buying a house out there. I'm sure that can't go on forever.

When I left NYC in '98 housing in LA seemed so inexpensive in comparison. Now that LA doesn't seem so inexpensive anymore, I can't even imagine how crazy NYC is these days. It's going to be a sad day when I finally come to terms with the fact that I can no longer afford to live in LA. Right now, I'm semi-comfortably still in denial.
Anonymous said…
I'm with you on mirrored sliding doors.
ryan said…
My best friend keeps trying to convince me to move to L.A. "You'll make so much more money here!" she says. But then I point out that even if we doubled our income, the cost of living is at least triple (if not more) than what we pay now!

About ten years ago, she considered buying a three bedroom house in Silver Lake for under $200,000 - and decided that it was too much. Today she's still renting - and wants to cry every time she thinks of that house!
Liz Dwyer said…
I think those doors should be banned from all residences world wide!

Same here. Someone who moved to this neighborhood the year before I did got her house for around $200K. It was sold for $967K last year. I could only think about paying off student loans back then and didn't think I'd be in LA that long. I cry sometimes thinking about it too. But then I feel better when I realize I don't have some no down payment, adjustable rate mortgage like some folks do.
My-Conscience said…
Where are the pics???
Liz Dwyer said…
Nitty Gritty,
Pictures of the house? Well, I would have posted some except for the fact that I've been waay too lazy to download them off my camera! :)
Ian Lidster said…
Yikes! But, if it's any consolation, Liz, the same thing is happening all over. What a scary world we're coming to live in.
I loathe mirrored sliding cheapo slip-off-the-track-if-you-sneeze closet doors, too.

The new owners are operating on sheer greed, using every inch of lot to squeeze more rent out of suckers.

I just hope you get some decent people who keep normal hours. Good luck.
The rental market in Los Angeles is ridiculous. At least in NYC you don't need a car and the apt will probably have some character.

My landlord wants me and another tenant to move because our rent is stablished. I live in "hot area" so she is doing her best to drive us out, not making repairs etc.

I hate my apt. but after reading your post I know I should just sit tight until I am ready to move to Italy. It doesn't make sense for me to pay $600 or more a month for a one bedroom when I am trying to get the heck out of L.A.
Liz Dwyer said…
I sometimes imagine that with the way things are going, by the time my kids are grown up, they'll be paying $2500 for a cardboard box in the wilds of North Dakota.

I hope we get some "normal" folks as well. At least, normal by LA standards. But we tend to get artsy people who throw loud parties on weeknights. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll play good music though.

We live in a fairly old (by LA standards) building so our apt. has lots of cool quirks to it, like a mini ironing board that comes out of the wall in the dining room. Definitely stay put where you are if it's affordable. Every time I think I want to move further into Silver Lake or else to Atwater (where no one wanted to live five years ago), I get sticker shock. By the way, Italy sounds fascinating!
1969 said…

I just wanted to comment that I too live with three males and cleaning toilets is the bane of my existence.
you are right liz, I should stay put.

I meant to say an ADDITIONAL $600 or more a month. My rent is not that low. LOL
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm telling you, it's back to cheerio target practice for all three of them. Ugh!

LOL! I was wondering! Got me thinking you must have been in that apartment for a LONG time!

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