Ryan may or may not know that he is part of the inspiration for this blog project. In my first post I mentioned seeing article after article posted online about the “solutions” to Duluth’s renting crisis. This being 2017 and content on the internet, the articles and posts about the articles had commenters. Most of the time, I don’t bother with comments. But, when I see friends engaging in thoughtful discourse, especially about housing, I usually take a look. Ryan always has interesting points that stand up against trolls who want everyone to “shut up and just pay.” So, when he offered to be interviewed for YPR, I was very excited to gain his perspective regarding renting in Duluth.
We had to do the interview via Facebook Messenger, which made for a lot of questions being sent back and forth on the internet. I was intrigued by Ryan’s responses. For him, renting in Duluth for nine years has been great. Ryan works for a fairly large company and is heavily involved in the Duluth music world. There haven’t been many troubles in his renting history. Even when there were hiccups, housing wasn’t the anxiety-inducing nightmare that it can be for so many folks in this community.
Ryan is the first to point out that he has been extremely lucky/privileged in this renting scene. A landlord saved him financially after renting a place with a then-girlfriend that they just couldn’t afford after a roommate had to be kicked out. A $1310 +utilities rent became too much for two young adults and it was a huge financial struggle. This landlord allowed them to move and get on a payment plan to finish up the balance of rent still owed. When I read that, I was shocked. You hear legend of these angel landlords, but rarely do you encounter a story that confirms their existence. In a different rental, a landlord offered to let Ryan out of a lease with a girlfriend after their break-up. The place was great, so he just posted for a roommate on Craigslist and lived there until the landlord decided to sell the property.
His current rental will be 33% of his monthly budget starting in February. The two bedroom apartment in a duplex costs $900/mo with all utilities included. Before he was splitting rent with a partner, but now will be living solo. Ryan believes he is getting a fair deal with rent because he can afford it and really likes the place where he lives. There are cool neighbors in the duplex and it’s located in a quiet neighborhood. Spirit Valley is flat and Ryan’s duplex is dog-friendly for his pal Dexter. Although the apartment was renovated before he moved in, there is a leaky basement and a dryer that doesn’t quite dry. But overall, Ryan thinks he’s in his ideal rental for Duluth. Due to rent increasing, he may take on a renter or consider buying a house.
We live in a city of renters hoping to catch lucky breaks. While Ryan has definitely had struggles within the Duluth renting world, his luck with landlords and roommates seems to be unmatched. I mention luck quite a bit and it seems to be coming up in many of the interviews I have been conducting. Renters do our part by making calls, getting references, going on tours, looking past things that may not be up to code, and still it all comes back to luck. Should renting come down to luck? Should we have a renting market with guaranteed peace of mind?
Many thanks to Ryan for allowing me to pester him with questions! If you want to be interviewed regarding your space, please let me know!