It’s Financially Impossible For Young People To Live in Ocean County [OPINION]
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Even before the outbreak of Coronavirus in New Jersey, finding a place to rent was extremely harder — and the aftereffects of this virus is making the process of finding a decent place to live much harder than ever before.
As a single guy with a turtle and a steady job, finding a place locally has been madness. To boot, I have found that most landlords are extremely rude (not all, but most). I understand that renting in Ocean County is a luxury because it is so close to beaches and shore, but the average rent has double since Superstorm Sandy because of gentrification on the barrier islands.
Gentrification is the process of modernizing an area that is middle income to a higher-income neighborhood. While this term is very rarely tossed around for the Jersey Shore, it is becoming more and more noticeable as the years go on.
Most people think that an area being gentrified is a good thing; while it is in some cases, the area becomes increasingly desirable, and the local rent skyrockets with it.
For instance, in recent years (especially after Superstorm Sandy), residents who rent in Ocean County have been spending more and more on their monthly rent and utilities while not seeing a pay increase at their job (with the exception of the state minimum wage increase).
The average rent in the United States for a one-bedroom apartment is around $847 — while the average rent in Ocean County for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1400.
So how much do you need to make a year to rent an apartment in Ocean County?
According to data published by USA Today, the average American consumer spends about $667 on groceries — coupled with other living expenses like utilities, car payments, and phone bills — I will modestly assume that the total living expenses per month on top of rent would be around $1100.
With this information, we can assume that the average American living in Ocean County would spend around $2500, mostly bills and rent, even though it's increasingly higher for most people living at the Jersey Shore.
With this information, to rent in Ocean County, you would have to make a minimum of $32,000 per year — and that's after taxes and without living (literally—this number is just bills).
According to Two Cents | Life Hacker, a leading money guidance website, to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life, the average American should follow the '50-30-20 rule'. This means that 50% of your income should go towards bills, 20% of your income should be saved, and 30% of your income should go towards your wants and entertainment (so, you know — you don't go crazy).
Let's assume that John Doe is looking for an apartment in Ocean County, and foolishly doesn't plan to save any money along the way. So he would just have to worry about the 50-30 portion of that rule.
Mr. Doe would have to make at least $41,000 annually to live somewhat comfortably. That is $19.71 an hour. The state minimum wage is $11.00 an hour, with it slowly rising to $15.00. Under this model — the average person would have to have at least two jobs and work 60+ hours per week.
Keep in mind — this is all before taxes are taken out.
So how do we fix this issue? Increasing state-funded housing would be an easy way out of this issue — but what about rent controls?
Numerous places in the country have implemented some controls on rent. It would be nothing extremely drastic — just a little bit of control over how a landlord could charge a tenant for monthly rent.
Instead of offering affordable housing on the dime of the taxpayer — it could be an option to have some landlords subsidized by the state government for a portion of the tenant's rent based, not the average rent in the municipality.
For example, if the average rent in the area is $1400 where John Doe wanted to live, the state government could subside either Doe or the landlord 20 to 30 percent of the rent bringing the monthly rent down to around national averages at about $950 or so.
For some, this might seem radical — for others, it's a lifeline.
Do you agree or disagree with rent controls? How can we get rent down in Ocean County? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.