Tri-Cities housing is more expensive than you think

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- It's not as cheap as you might think to live comfortably here in the Tri-Cities. Our region is among the top-third nationwide for the highest wages you'd need to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment. KEPR looked at the reasons behind that.

Lance Otis and Casey Wakefield keep up the landscape at Bella Vista Apartments in Richland, but neither of them live there. They can't afford it.

"We're barely getting by right now, so, after paying rent, I'd say it's about 100, 150 bucks," said Lance.

That's what's left for Lance and his wife to pay for everything else for a whole month.

Reporter: "So, on 150 bucks a month, you pay for groceries?"
Lance Otis: "Mhm."
Reporter: "And you pay, do you have cable?"
Lance Otis: "Cable, yeah"
Reporter: "And you pay electricity?"
Lance Otis: "Yeah."

Lance and Casey both pay over $700 in rent. They can't afford a penny more. So, when we told them about a new study that says people in Benton and Franklin Counties should make $11.33 an hour to live comfortably in a decent one-bedroom place, they were shocked.

"I think if we was making that much, yeah, that would be good, yeah, that would be all good right now," said Lance.

The property manager of Bella Vista Apartments wasn't shocked by the figure.

"I think that that's probably pretty accurate. I don't know that you could necessarily live here comfortably making much less than that," said Robin Jones.

That rate of $11.33 an hour puts our region in the top-third of the nation in terms of the income you'd need to afford a decent one-bedroom place. This is higher than Yakima and Spokane.

The CEO of WorkSource says Hanford makes our economy unstable. Layoffs mean supply and demand for housing are always fluctuating.

But Robin tries not to let that affect prices.

"Even when the economy is extremely strong, we do not do a price increase based on that," she said.

Lance and Casey say they would consider moving if it meant a better quality of life.

"It would be nice if we could pay a lot less, but, I mean, the way it is now, I don't think it'll happen no time soon," said Lance.