By Peggie Cheung
For students of Seattle Central finding a place to live on the hill is an expensive affair. With the number of international students increasing 50% over the past 5 years, the price of apartments close to campus has jumped as well.
Cheng Zhou, a Chinese ESL student at Seattle Central tells NCC he, “spent over $1000 per month on my apartment, and my lease ends in March.” Unable to find a cost effective pad on the hill Zhou “decided to move to homestay in South Seattle…I really want to live on Capitol Hill because I don’t need to get up early to catch a bus.” Homestay involves living with an American host family. An Apartment Manager for Joule Apartments says this is not a uncommon issue. “It is hard to find an apartment that is under the $1000 especially in good condition.” Other students living on Capitol Hill are being hit by the pricy digs and in some cases seeing that price go up.
Jessie and Yan are two such students. They live in The Summit Building on 23rd are starting to see the effects of increased rent. Jessie said, “half a year ago, I rented a studio for $890 per month…now I have to pay around $1000 per mouth if I want to renew.” Like Zhou, Jessie plans to move on to homestay after the lease is up. “I can’t afford over thousand dollars for an apartment bill, and I also have to pay water fees, electricity fees, internet fees, and garbage fees. It is too expensive for me.” The rises can also be seen down the street from 23rd.
One year ago, a studio apartment at a Seventh and James Apartment building rented for approximately $800 per month. Now it rents for over $1000 per month. Another apartment building on the corner of Pine and Bellevue rented for $650 per month one year ago. Now this same building rents rooms over $800 a month. Some students however have found a creative way to combat the high costs of living
Amy, an international student from Korea, lives on Capitol Hill and rents a two bedroom apartment for $1,300 a month. The contract says only two people may reside there, but skirting the rules Amy now lives with three other roommates. “It doesn’t make sense. I can’t pay this much. As a result, I have three roommates, which means I live in violation of the contract.” The contract violation has left Amy perpetually anxious of eviction saying her manager checks every unit randomly and is “scared every day…I have to sleep with another girl in the same bed. I can’t have my private room.”
Hu Yang, another international student says she lives in a quaint sized 350sq ft. studio renting for $1140 a month. “Nothing is included so I have to pay water, electricity, internet and garbage fee.” Pressured by the high cost of rent, Yang found not only a roommate but a bedmate who she shares a mattress with. “Even though I feel crowded and uncomfortable, I don’t have any ideas.”
With no easy solutions and surrounding rent increasing Seattle Central students are being pushed to other boroughs and homestay to avoid breaking the bank. Whether it be moving to homestay in South Seattle or cuddling up with the roommate in breach of a lease it’s clear the price of rent doesn’t always equate with quality of life.