Living in Fort Worth and Trying to Find an Affordable Place to Live

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I live in Fort Worth, Texas, where rent is manageable compared to major West and East Coast housing markets, but the rent here has recently been skyrocketing. Even so, I was just able to find my new apartment for the next year.

It’s a house that’s south of my favorite neighborhoods. Because of its location, it isn’t ideal. But truth be told, it’s one of the only reasonably priced housing options I’ve found in the two months of searching for a new place to live.

These were my requirements: a functional kitchen with working cabinet space, bikeable proximity to downtown, and under one-third of my salary. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, really, but it’s been surprisingly difficult to find in my search.

I’ve lived for about three years in Fairmount, a neighborhood south of downtown Fort Worth that’s home to bars, restaurants and bike lanes. I’ve paid $865 for a 700-square-foot apartment that’s one block from that popular street, and with utilities, I ended up paying maybe $950 a month.

I’ve used an online rent affordability calculator to figure out that I should only be paying between $650 to $750 a month for rent, or one-third of my take-home monthly salary as a newspaper reporter. The sad reality of living in a gentrifying, hip part of town is that you have two options: living in a shithole or paying too much money.

The place I’ve found for the next year isn’t exactly a gem: It’s a 400-square-foot garage apartment that had no fridge, no showerhead and no bathroom door. (My landlord added a bathroom door the weekend I moved in; I purchased a used fridge.) It has a tiny kitchen that gets too hot thanks to an east-facing window and no central air-conditioning. It’s also farther away by two miles.

But I’ll pay a total of $495 a month plus gas, water and electricity. I can still easily bike to Fairmount and downtown, where I take the train to Dallas for work. I should also mention that some studios and garage apartments I saw on Craigslist listed for more than what I’ll be paying at my new place didn’t even have a kitchen.

For more affordable rent, I had to sacrifice some things I had considered necessary. On the other end of the market, a nice one-bedroom can cost up to $1,200 a month. This might not be a problem for some people, but it is for me.

That isn’t to say that I couldn’t afford my recent living situation; $865 is a lot for my meager salary, but it’s doable by putting myself on a strict budget. But I also want to save money for the future possibility of moving to a new city, and for things like car repairs or doctor bills while having some room for travel, eating out and shopping.

For me, moving a little further away into a smaller apartment was worth it.

 

Julissa Treviño is a reporter and writer who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Send her tips for living in small spaces on Twitter @JulissaTrevino.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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