The Housing Market Is Pushing Us Out But We Won't Go

by Toni Hammer
housing market / Shutterstock

My husband and I have grand plans to buy a home in the next two years or so. We’d like to be settled into a place of our own before both of our kids start real school so they can go to class with the same fellow students and friends each year. While I know it’s not uncommon for children to change schools, it breaks my heart to think of taking them away from the friends they’ve made over the years simply because we moved to a different school district.

So we have a plan — a good plan, the best plan. We’ll be in a house in the next two years.

Except the housing market where we live (Portland, Oregon) is absolutely out of control, and it’s pissing me off. Modest houses are going for astronomical prices. They’re selling for way over the asking price — for cash. I don’t know who has house buying money just hanging out under their mattress, but I want to know what career field they’re in because, clearly, I chose the wrong profession.

While it’s not as bad as expensive locales such as San Francisco or New York, it’s quickly climbing the ladder. And even though my husband and I are both college-educated and both work our asses off and have a strong savings plan for a down payment, there are many days when I look at listings and think, How the hell are we going to be able to afford this?

The answer is I don’t know.

The other answer I hear from those around me when I explain our plight is, “Why don’t you guys just move somewhere cheaper?”

I wish it were that easy. I wish I may, I wish I might.

First of all, we have family here. My family lives in California and we rarely get to see them, but my husband’s family is relatively close by. My kids love their grandparents, and we enjoy having trusted family to look after our kids when needed. I want my children to grow up around as many of their aunts and uncles and cousins as they can. I want their family to also be their friends. I want them to hang out with, go on vacation with, and learn from their family. I hate that I live so far from my loved ones, and I don’t want that for my kids.

Secondly, our life is here. I moved here over a decade ago and it’s become my home. It’s not just a place I relocated to for college, it is home. It’s where I figured out who I was — where I fell in love, got married, and birthed two beautiful babies. It has art and culture and nature and food trucks and we love it here. Don’t make me leave my food trucks.

Third, and most importantly, I don’t want to move. You know what happens when you move? You have to pack and then unpack, and leave old friends and make new friends, and find the best Thai restaurants and playgrounds all over again, and I refuse to let the housing market have that much control over me. I already know where the best pad thai is and I’m not leaving, Portland. You hear me?

Since this is the stance I’m taking, that also means I go back to staring at MLS listings while crying into my Ben & Jerry’s. All I want is to put down roots in a city I love with the people I love and give my kids a home to grow up in, to make memories in, to come home to during spring break from college — but the climbing house prices are making a realistic goal into a pipe dream. We are still hanging on though.

I don’t know how we’re going to make it work. I don’t know how we’ll be able to afford it. But I do know we’re not going to “just move.” It’s not that easy. Nothing in life is. We’ll just keep saving and hoping for a miracle and maybe a benevolent overlord giving us a house. If I’m going to dream about affording a house here, I may as well dream big.