To the dismay of locals, the city of San Jose has been named the U.S. metropolitan city with the highest average monthly rent, according to a Sept. 28 press release from the United States Census Bureau.
The results of the 2009 American Community Survey, a collection of data providing information on population and housing, showed an 18 percent increase in San Jose's housing costs over the previous year, according to the press release.
Rent in San Jose averages $1,307 for a one bedroom, $1,389 for a two bedroom and $2,043 for a three bedroom, according to Leslye Krutko, the director of the city's housing department.
"Certainly this is not a list where you want to have the honor of being named No. 1," Krutko said. "San Jose is an extremely desirable place to live with wonderful weather, community amenities and leading employers but it is also a very expensive place to live and this makes it hard for people on fixed incomes to afford to live here."
Senior kinesiology major Brandon Coleman said he would have guessed New York or Los Angeles were more expensive and doubted the accuracy of the results.
"I think the results are skewed because of all the different types of housing we have," Coleman said. "When you mix cheap student apartments with the luxury high rises we have downtown, it's no wonder that you'll get a big average number."
Krutko said she believes the high rent impacts students' decisions concerning their living situation, often resulting in them choosing to commute or attend a different university.
There is a high demand for housing and a low vacancy rate in San Jose, she said, resulting in an overall increase in labor costs and the cost of development.
Sophomore nursing major Kelly Tran said cost contributed toward her decision to live with her parents and commute.
"It's amazing how much money I save," Tran said. "It's cheaper to buy a parking pass and pay for gas than rent an apartment close to campus. I was on the fence for a long time about attending because it's so expensive."
Employment needs to be considered as well, Krutko said, since affordable housing is one of the top concerns of Silicon Valley's employers.
"They see first hand that their employees struggle to afford to live here and many decide not to stay or not to accept positions specifically due to the high cost of housing," she said.
With the majority of their paycheck spent on rent, Krutko said citizens often skimp on other needs such as proper nutrition and health care and are unable to make necessary purchases, which directly affects the local business community.
"We need these people," she said. "They are our restaurant workers, our gardeners, our preschool teachers, our retail clerks. If they can't afford to live here, that impacts all of our quality of life."
Krutko said 12 percent of San Jose's population is at or below the poverty level, set at $18,000 for a family of three, while the last homeless census found that 7,000 people in the county of Santa Clara were homeless, on the streets or in shelters.
"I have to work a full-time job and take night classes to afford to be here," said Jason Trutow, a senior graphic design major. "I would like to spend more time focusing on my education, but I can't because I have to make the money I need to pay the bills."
Sophomore accounting major Patricia Seymour said the high cost changes the standard of living in San Jose and affects everyone who has an interest in the area.
"It's not just students who can't live here," she said. "It's also families and professionals. Silicon Valley is a big center for jobs and is a good place to raise a family, but people can't take advantage."
"This increase in cost is both frustrating and disappointing," Seymour said.