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The cost of housing can be intimidating and depressing for Bay Area adults. Now imagine what its like for teens like Zoe Harwood.

Will I and my classmates be able to live in the Bay Area in five years? When I asked my dad this question, he made a simple prediction: only Facebook employees, hedge-fund managers and high priced assassins would even be able to afford it. About a month ago, I went to find out if there was any truth in that.

I was born in Oakland, raised in El Sobrante and lived in the Bay Area all of my life. So when dad first made his prediction, I thought: That’s crazy! But as it turns out, he was onto something.

Dad says when he bought our house, it was around $350,000. Today, the median house in El Sobrante has skyrocketed to $505,000. In El Cerrito, where I go to school, the median price is $882,000. And in big name cities like San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, that number can be over a million dollars.

Naturally I went to apartments to find something in the realm of affordable, but even those can be expensive: in San Francisco, a one bedroom apartment can rent for almost $4,000 dollars! Yeah, it’s insane!


Now, for the fun part: finding the truth in my dad’s prediction! I don’t know where I’d look to find the salaries of assassins... so I’m going to go with hedge fund managers. The annual salary of a hedge fund manager is roughly $350,000. Even with that you wouldn’t be able to buy a house without a mortgage, but you could buy a 3-bedroom apartment in San Francisco... for about $7,000 per month.

Facebook employees? According to a quick Internet search, software engineers make $127,281 a year. Divide that and you get $10,606 a month. You could rent a $7,000 per month 3 bedroom apartment with that, but I’d be kind of worried about bills & other expenses.

So back to my main question: will I be able to afford to live in the Bay Area, the very place I’ve grown up in? Right now, the answer looks like a no.

With a Perspective, I’m Zoe Harwood.

Zoe Harwood is a sophomore  at El Cerrito High School. Her Perspective was produced as part of Youth Takeover week at KQED.