Thursday, April 2, 2015

Renting in Sonoma County: A Personal Story

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Back in October of 2011, we were scrambling to find a new rental home.  We felt so lucky to stumble upon the little house we live in.  It is a modest four bedroom, two bath 1400 sq ft home.  It is $1900 a month and we loved that it had a big fenced in front yard and an attached garage.  The yard has been wonderful for Noodle and the neighbors are great. The four bedrooms meant that my husband could have an office and Noodle and I could have a workroom.  We downsized a lot when we moved in but it has been a great place to live and we hoped to live there for many years.  We have worked hard to take care of this house and improve the yard. I planted daffodils and we pulled up all the ivy that was choking the backyard.  On Sunday, we weeded and prepared the beds for Spring. I even built Noodle what I hoped would be a fun living teepee for Summer.

On Monday, I came home from work to a 60 day notice on our front door. Without any explanation, our landlord has asked us to leave.  We have been excellent tenants and have never been late a single time with the rent in the almost four years we have been there.  Our only thought is that the owners want to sell it.  We are devastated.

We are facing some difficult obstacles:

1) This could not come at a worse time.  I am chairing the school fundraiser on April 11 and Noodle and I both have birthdays in May. I am turning 40 this year and had hoped to go to Disneyland. Now, it appears I get to celebrate my birthday (and Noodle's) by moving.

2) The rental market is awful where we live. There is no inventory and tremendous competition for what few houses are available. My realtor friend told me that 25-50 applications are going in on each rental.

3)The few houses that are available are currently for rent for unbelievable amounts.  One 2 bedroom, 1 bath house that I had hoped to view just rented for $2100 a month. It is around 1000 sq ft.

4) We have a personal obstacle.  When my husband lost his job several years ago, we struggled to get by.  We had to resort to credit cards to make it through.  We have been paying off the debt but our credit took a hit.  There is no deliquency. Just high debt-to-credit ratio. This makes us less competitive as renters.

5) You all know my much-beloved feline companion died last month.  This has been hard for all of us.  We had hoped to surprise Noodle with a kitten for his birthday. Almost all of the current rentals do not allow pets.

Cost of living in Northern California is unbelievable.  Families are getting pushed out as few can afford to live here anymore.  We have 60 days to find a new home.  I am going to share my journey here.

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