A $399,000 home in Missoula, MT.
The median price of a home in beautiful Missoula, Montana has gone up $53,000 since 2011 and now sits at a quarter million dollars. Meanwhile, median household income holds steady at $47,029. On a 20-year mortgage, the median household must pay 38 percent of its income to live in the median house. On a 30-year mortgage, they pay almost exactly 30 percent. Renters, whose median incomes are much lower, can put 30 percent toward mortgage payments and get a $145,935 loan. There are currently 25 homes listed on Missoula Trulia below that price. Eight of them are auctions.
Missoula has a housing shortage, and it’s working on a permanent underclass. Now that home prices have reached a record high despite low wages, Missoula has become the perfect place to charge other people to live. Whether you sell your house to Californians or put it on our four-percent-vacancy rental market, you’ll find there’s no better place to own a home you don’t live in.
If you insist on living in your house, the all-time high property taxes that happen to coincide with all-time-high home values and all-time-same wages make the deal less sweet. But we can’t have everything. In fact most of us can have very little, and houses aren’t on the list. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which has already won me free attacks on my character from realtors. I’ll match honesties with any motherfucker in a red jacket, anytime.
A reeve directs serfs on a feudal demesne, circa 1310.
Much of my week has centered on a lawsuit. It’s not a trial; it’s a binding arbitration, and I am neither the plaintiff nor the defendant. But I appeared as a witness, with all the logistical wrangling that entails. In the process, I developed a sense of just how tenaciously we come to contest anything we contest formally. Once we hold an advantage—be it a parcel of money, a position in a market, or an inherited privilege—we become loath to share it with anyone, even in situations where sharing would seem completely reasonable if lawyers weren’t present. Today is Friday, and we cling to our inheritances fiercely when someone tries to take them from us. Won’t you put property ahead of propriety with me?
Just as we will inevitably build really good robots if we survive long enough, they will inevitably enslave us. That's how time works, right there.
Ever since I learned to write the date as mm/dd/yy in elementary school, I have looked forward to November 11th, 2011. The possibility of writing the date simply by making a series of vertical slashes—11/11/11, with what I envisioned as mounting frenzy—thrilled me, and I looked forward to that distant day as the fulfillment of my particular historical privilege. That I would probably not be completing and dating several worksheets each day at age 34 did not occur to me. I have finally arrived at 11/11/11 with no checks to write or spelling tests to date, and the future seems oddly disappointing. Tomorrow, I will have been alive on November 11th, 2011. My millennial privilege will be behind me, and I will have to confront the classic existential tragedy: what I always thought of as the future is now the past. It’s Friday, prelude to a future weekend, and the present is not as we expected. It’s still pretty weird and crazy, though, if you consider what we expected at age 10.