Renting trends shift with gas prices

September 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you rent instead of own, there's a new trend developing in the Bay Area and it's being fueled by the high price of gas. People are changing not only how they live, but also where the live.

"What are we going to eat tonight for dinner?" asked Pedro.

Making dinner in their Sunnyvale apartment is happening more and more for Lillian Perez and Pedro Escobar.

"Chinese?" asked Pedro.
"Sounds good to me," said Lillian.

It's part of their cost cutting plan. They both work full time on the peninsula and their daily commutes are at least 90 minutes round trip.

"I was spending about $400 a month on gas," said Predro Escobar, a renter.

"I thought that with the traffic I could handle it, but now with the gas prices, we just have to move," said Lillian Perez, a renter.

Three months ago, the California Apartment Association noticed a significant rise in the number of renters moving. They were choosing to live closer to work because of gas prices.

"We are a bunch of commuters in the Bay Area," said Joshua Howard, from the California Apartment Association.

The association's executive director says the renter life style started changing when gas neared the $5 mark. At around that same time, sprawling apartment communities, like Palm Valley, in South Santa Clara County, started losing tenants. It's normally 89 percent full. Two months ago, occupancy dropped to 70 percent.

"People were recognizing they could save quite a bit of time and money if they were to live somewhere close to where they work," said Howard.

It's a concept that changed John Laing Homes' entire business model. The developer started building houses close to hi-tech companies a year ago. This month, homes next door to Advanced Micro Devices in Sunnyvale, hit the market.

While buying isn't in this couple's immediate future, moving to Belmont is. They'll trade in the amenities of a club house and swimming pool, that drew them to the complex five years ago, for the savings of $600 in gas money, a month.


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