Priorities Matter

| May 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

I knew the dreaded phone call would come one day, the call telling me my rent has been raised. Living directly across the street from Balboa Park is like living oceanfront. Just like there is only so much oceanfront property, there is also only so much facing the park. It is a lovely place to live. This makes it expensive. Although I am in a 10-story building with no patio or balcony, I have a front yard, it is my park. Every day I watch the many goings on outside my window. Sometimes it is a mesmerizing sight. I see families having parties complete with piñatas, juxtaposed with homeless men and women camped out on the soft ground they call home, surrounded by all their worldly possessions. It is a slice of life at my doorstep.

Ten years ago, I found this paradise. I was looking for a rental and the ad said, “How would you like to live on a wonderful royal palm treed street overlooking the park?”

Yes, I would, I thought, so I set up a time to see the place. Upon entering the unit, I gasped. The place was just lovely. The open floor plan and high ceilings complimented the arched floor to ceiling windows, uncovered so as not to block the view. The windows revealed that jewel of San Diego, Balboa Park, a short leap right across the street. I was hooked.

The rent was a bit more than I budgeted, but budgets don’t come into play when emotions take over good sense. I must live here…I must. It had only been two years since my husband had died and this place could do much to assuage my sadness. I took it. Meeting with the owner, my new landlord, I told him this is the most I can afford and if he will ever need to raise the rent in the coming years, he needed to know that a rent raise would force me to give notice.

Years went by with no rent increase. The owner knew he had the perfect tenant, a single mature woman who kept the place pristine. He was also impressed with the fact that I had headed up a children’s charity and told me he wants to keep me there as long as I want. Then a few years ago the reality of San Diego real estate set in. His adjustable mortgage rate had increased and now the low rent was costing him money. He asked to meet with me, and I thought, this is it, I am getting my walking papers. But no, he had something else in mind, He was going to try and renegotiate his loan to allow my rent to cover him. I had a reprieve. I could stay

More years went by, but I knew I was on borrowed time. The rents around me for comparable places was going up and up to figures that were much more than I was paying. If he did comparisons I was a dead duck. Then last week the call came. He struggled to tell me the news. My rent paid for his mortgage just fine, but the HOA fees were keeping him $700 in the red and he could no longer carry that much of a liability. He would raise me $500 and at that would still be operating at a loss.

I panicked. I put my furniture on Craig’s List and began my journey to find another place at the rent I was currently paying before the raise. All of San Diego County was open to me. I could move anywhere. But after a week of looking at places that made me gag, and some premature grieving, I decided to stay for another year as an experiment to see how much I could cut from my expenses to free up more money for rent. Out went the New York Times subscription, out went the manicures, out went the cinema group I attended. Now about that landline.

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