There's something wrong with this picture from the standpoint of sustainable economics and basic fairness.
Looking out over part of town from Samish Hill area. Bellingham Bay and San Juan Islands are visible from many neighborhoods.
Victorian homes reside in parts of Bellingham, this one is a bed and breakfast on Garden St.
Property values have risen
very high in places like the San Francisco Bay area. People who bought
houses, back in the 1970s when one could still do this for around $50,000,
have been selling for over 1 million. Then they have been moving to
towns like Bellingham.
Often they're post war boomers
who never dreamed they'd become millionaires. Some are even old hippies,
so to speak. Now teachers, or what ever who sometimes retire early.
Hippies turned yuppies.
It's been an unprecidented bubble
that has grown for nearly two decades. Now it's starting to burst,
but Bellingham home prices have remained kind of high and stable compared
to the rest of the post 2008 economy.
Why is that the case?
I think many Bellingham homeowners
don't even owe a mortgage.
Across the nation, homebuyers
defaulted on mortgages as housing values soared so high that people suddenly
realized the jobs don't pay enough to afford house payments.
In Bellingham, it seems like
many home owners either bought early, when houses were still affordable and
just rode the bubble up. Quite a few are retired and don't seem to
owe that much, unless they got in over their heads with home equity loans.
People who work in Bellingham
are often renters. Majority of Bellingham residents are renters.
Rent isn't cheap either, but
there are some good niches out there. Also the city and other non profit
agencies are trying to provide affordable housing. There is a housing
shortage for rental housing, but quite a bit of new construction.
Downtown Mount Baker Apartments, managed by Catholic Community Services
Comment from a reader
Thanks for your insight on the continuous growth of Bellingham, albeit good and bad.
Please don't forget though that a lot of people are now working out of their homes and "tele-commuting" to work as myself. I still work (contract) for the company in California that I worked for when I lived there, however, I work via the Internet these days. I know quite a few people in Bellingham who do the same thing. This has allowed many people to move where they want to and not have to worry about the commute hassles anymore. And we are contributing to the business and economy of Bellingham even though we don't really work for companies here.
Also, please remember a lot of people made a lot of money
in the stock market in the dot.com heyday of the mid to late 90s. I feel
this gave many people the ability be become upwardly mobile and many of them
are set for life (unles their money is still invested in the stock market
which is struggling to recover after this God-awful session with George Bush
at the helm).
Just thought I'd add my two cents worth to your commentary.
Thanks again for your great articles...Loren
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