Home is Where You Can Afford to Live


We all know that housing is vastly overpriced in Cape Town. But the problem is not unique to the Mother City. Kim Davis, an intern visiting from Seattle, discusses the housing conundrum that awaits her on her return to the Emerald City.

When I return to America after completing my three-month internship at Cape Town Partnership, I will be getting my first apartment. This is where I will be living for the last 7 months of my undergraduate life. The problem is that the price of living in the US, especially in cities, is high. I spent three months looking for an apartment and eventually had no choice but to raise my budget, as well as to settle for somewhere that didn’t have a full kitchen, in order to find a good place to live.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

In Seattle, things have been getting more expensive. Dorothy should probably just stay in Kansas, but Seattleites make it work by having a median annual household income of US$80,000 (R1,042,928). According to Business Insider, the typical one bedroom apartment costs around US$1,800 or R23,400 and as someone looking in the Seattle rental market that hurts. Buying in Seattle is a painful process, as on average, it costs US$458  per square foot – about R65,000 per m². People want to live in cities, but cities are harder to build in with more restrictions and less space. Recently, a new popular housing type is the micro-studio. At 23m², these units tend to lack a full kitchen. These studios are popular because you can fit in more units per building and make more money.

Dream of the 90s

While it has been said that the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland, Oregon, living that dream is rising in price. Now it is not as expensive as Seattle, but Portlanders don’t make as much as the Seattleites (only an annual median of US$60,000  or R782,196). The median 1-bed is about US$1,100  (R14,000) and price per square foot to buy is US$323 dollars (or R46211 per m²). Portland became popular due to its natural beauty and quirky vibe which led to the TV show Portlandia. The show was pretty funny, but the number of people moving to Portland is not. This migration has led to Portland (and Seattle) having a homeless crisis with no real way to fix it.

Moral of the story?

Don’t move to Portland.

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