When friends (new and old) ask why we made such a drastic leap I always go to the first domino in the chain of collapse. It’s a story with many truths, all leading to one hell of a climactic cliffhanger before the credits roll. I want to feel in control of this story…this narrative around what happened to my beautiful LA life and how and why and most importantly ”was it intentional?”
I get it. Our situation is a little weird and a little confusing. Mostly because I’ve allowed it to be.
The no-frills version is that we moved 300 miles from home and into my sister’s garage. The frills are everything I’ve shared on Instagram both here and on @minimalish.house over the past 14 or so months. Yes, we chose to do that. But why we chose it is much more complicated.
Here’s a higher-level truth: No. Of course, we had no intention of leaving the city we grew up in, met in, and returned to start our life together. Our daughter was a third generation #ValleyGirl. The pride is strong. The roots are deep.
But after more than a decade of failed offers on houses (we’ve legitimately forgotten how many houses we bid on at this point but easily more than 20) we were simply priced out of our beloved hometown. In early 2008 our first offer went in on a house in the Valley listed at $378k, it needed a ton of work and was crawling with termites, but we were still child-free and we were ready for it. A developer outbid us (actually 5 developers, there were 17 bids in all and ours came in at number 6) and our quest for a place to start and raise our family began. By 2017 we were still competing against multiple offers (never less than 7, sometimes as many as 26) and each time the quaint family home became a McMansion at the hands of developer after developer. Once our own (former) realtor had his daughter outbid us on a multi-family unit we brought to him.
By our final offer, we were frantically doing the math to grab one of the fixers in our beloved neighborhood for the bargain price of 800k for a 500 sq foot box with no yard. Scott was nauseous at the prospect of financing so much and getting so little. I was desperate for a forever home for our family. But again, against 14 offers, we were outbid by developers.
Los Angeles has a housing crisis. Let’s be honest, if we couldn’t hack this market from our dual-income upper-middle class white-privileged starting ground, what chance do the majority of my native Angelinos have? The Valley has become an untenable developers playground under its current leadership while residents watch their beloved hometown turn from an architecturally diverse gem to a bunch of condominiums and track housing they could never afford. Blue collar workers who have lived in the Valley for generations are finding themselves forced to move further and further away from their jobs, often with the result of looking for work closer to their new neighborhoods leaving Valley business owners struggling to replace them at rates they can afford to pay.
As our dominoes fell, so did LA’s.
When we realized that we’d never save for a place of our own while sustaining LA housing prices we intentionally decided to get drastic. We claimed the #tinyhousemovement as our millennial dream and kept our chins up, grateful there was a community of people making the choice feel less shameful.
But man, walking away from our last rental in LA, knowing we’d only be met with higher housing costs possibly preventing the return we hope to one day make…that was the hardest thing to do of all.
And now we’re here. And this struggle, it has become a platform from which I MUST spring into social service. #Housing, #SelfEmploymentTax, and #PublicHealth are issues I have no choice but to get into the mud on. To go to the mattresses. To #savethevalley.
Next time on Morgan’s soapbox, we’ll talk about self-employment tax and how it hinders entrepreneurs and small local businesses, not to mention making that housing search that much harder. #meforofficeprettysoon