Over three and a half million Californians aged 18-34 still live at home, according to the most recent data from the American Survey Council. In previous decades, Californians lived with their parents at a lower than average rate compared to the rest of the country. Now, with 38.1 percent of Millennials living at home, California has the highest percentage in the country.
Against economists’ predictions, this trend to stay home continued even as unemployment rates dropped to their lowest since 2007. Experts argue that this might be in part due to rising cost of renting. Even as the housing market took a hit during the recession, the cost of renting remained steady. Afterwards, rental costs began to soar. As of August 2017, Sacramento rents were rising at the fastest rate in the nation.
Talking with current renters and apartment complex managers, it appears that the demand for rental properties in Winters is far outstripping the supply. At this time, Winters Apartments and Orchard Park have one to three year waiting lists.
Seven Winters Millennials shared their housing situations with the Express. Many of them depend on parental support or unconventional housing arrangements in order to live in Winters.
Some, like Timbo Michael Tweedt, found that the only way he could stay in Winters was to live with his parents. He wants to be in Winters, but feels that the town, like the rest of California, is becoming too expensive. Tweedt wishes that there was some program that could help people stay in the community.
Two other Millennials surveyed, who wish to remain anonymous, rent properties from their parents. These renters’ families assist them with lower priced rent. One Millennial rented a studio apartment in Winters for $500, the other rented a three-bedroom house for $900. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the average rent for a studio apartment in Yolo County is $846, and the average for a three-bedroom house is $1672.
The family renting the three-bedroom house were living on their own in Winters until 2015, when their rent went up to $1,100. The couple was about to have a baby and couldn’t afford the rent hike. They ended their lease and moved in with family.
“We had hoped to save enough money for a deposit to buy a house. But after casually browsing listings in Winters, we knew we weren’t able to buy anything here,” the renter says. Even so, they still want to live in Winters, even if the cost of living is high.
“I feel like you are definitely paying for the small-town, safe feel. I do love it to raise my kids in, but to be able to afford living here, I feel like you have to have a great established source of income. I believe it would be harder for a young couple or first-time buyer to get a home here,” they say.
One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, found that when she came back to Winters, there were too few apartments available. The apartments that she could find were set aside for low-income occupancy, and she made too much money to qualify.
Looking at housing in Winters and surrounding cities, she felt caught between paying a high rent for a low-quality apartment and trying to save for a down payment on a house. She ended up renting from family as well.
Other young adults, like Haylee Clay, had trouble finding a place where she could keep her dog and work from home. Clay eventually got a rental outside of town, but since the house does not have internet access, she has to work out of her parents’ home. She doesn’t see the rental market improving for her or her boyfriend.
“We will be forced to buy at some point once we have the funds;” Clay says. “Who knows when that will be.”
Young adults who grew up in Winters are seeing the housing crunch in other parts of the state as well. Justin Hyer, who graduated from Winters High in 2010, has been living in Sacramento since he finished college. He moved to Midtown, one of the most sought after neighborhoods in the city.
“There has been a lot of development over the past several years,” Hyer says of Midtown, “but the demand is still outpacing the supply by quite a bit.”
Hyer feels lucky that he found his apartment early in 2015, but he says that even at that time, he was competing with about 75 other applicants.
Bethany Williams moved to Winters when she became a Ph.D. student at UC Davis. When she and her partner first arrived, they lived in an Airstream trailer. This year, they began looking for a house to rent, but were stymied. The couple has a large dog, and they could not find an open rental that would accept them.
Eventually they found a landlord who would rent them an apartment in exchange for assistance around the house. Williams says that they consider themselves to be, “extremely lucky.” Knowing that the situation they found is rare, Williams wonders how other people looking to rent in Winters can cope.
“I often question what kind of growth Winters is looking for. It doesn’t seem as though the target market is young folks, since there’s no place for them to live, although that’s what they’ll need if agri-tourism is going to take off here,” Williams says. “Who else will serve the beers, pour the coffee, host the farm tours, make the art, play the music?”
Currently the City of Winters is committed to building a new apartment complex in the upcoming Stone’s Throw development, in hopes of increasing the availability of rental properties. But for now, many young adults in Winters still struggle with the local housing crisis.