Sonoma County rent skyrockets

Rent costs in Sonoma County have reached high levels, increasing 30 percent in the last three years alone.

In the United States, Sonoma County ranks no. 1 in terms of rising rent costs in any metropolitan area.

The price for an average apartment costs nearly $1,600 every month and that number may continue to climb rapidly.

This may seem like a small number in comparison to the other counties surrounding the San Francisco metropolitan area, such as Alameda, San Mateo and Marin. On average, they pay approximately $700 more each month.

However, this remains a pressing issue, especially for Sonoma State students. With the possibility of tuition costs rising and other monthly expenses to worry about, it’s difficult to find even more money to pursue higher education and maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Two sophomores and business majors, Jasmine Scott and Brooke Shettlesworth, had a lot to say about how these rising prices could potentially impact Sonoma State students.

“I’m already working so much and I have to work more hours just to compensate for my rent and for nothing other than living,” said Scott.

Shettlesworth believes rising costs will cause a setback for  many students.

“With the rising housing costs, college students are forced to not only take out more loans and many take fewer classes so that they can work more just to pay the rent.”

Many Bay Area communities are seeing these increases due to workers trying to escape high living costs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. There is a higher demand for cheaper housing, hence the increase of rent in desirable areas.

Real Answers spokesman, Nick Grotjahn, told the Press Democrat in October that “rents have skyrocketed in the    employment centers. A worker can find much cheaper housing by commuting from Petaluma to San Francisco. Renters occupied 97.5 percent of the county’s apartments at the end of the third quarter, unchanged from a year ago. The rate essentially amounts to full occupancy.”

“It has been more difficult for students to find off-campus housing,” said Nicole Hendry, director of housing. “The real estate market has rebounded and there are less vacancies in this area. Due to the low vacancy rate, landlords off campus tend to raise rates because of the demand.”

On-campus housing has remained wildly popular among Sonoma State students. Princeton Review has even named Sonoma State’s on-campus housing as one of the best in the nation.

Hendry said the campus uses the Consumer Price Index for the Greater Bay Area to determine the housing rental rate and campus fee increases from year to year.

Using this method, on-campus housing rates have only increased about 2 percent each year in the last five years. Sonoma State’s housing options may increase in popularity and competition as Sonoma County’s rent continues to increase on a much more substantial level.

It’s already becoming more difficult for students to find off-campus housing in recent years. The problem is in part due to the lack of rental units or buildings being built in Rohnert Park or surrounding areas.

Students planning to live off campus next year are encouraged to attend the Campus Housing Fair on April 14, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Center ballroom. Materials will be provided to make the process easier and local landlords will be present to answer any questions students may have.