In San Francisco if you have rent control, leaving that situation to play house with your partner actually causes your rent to go up. (Courtesy photo)

‘Til death do us part: When rent control is a bigger commitment than marriage

http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/broke-ass-city/

We’d had a pretty incredible San Francisco night. It started at one of The City’s last underground art spaces for an event called Puppet Death Match.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a series of funny vignettes in which a bunch weird puppets battle to the death…obviously.

Afterwards we popped by the White Horse Tavern for a couple drinks before heading to the Body Taboo Midnight Cabaret at the Shelton Theater.

This installment of Body Taboo was a tribute to the band Queen, so there were drag queens, burlesque dancers, and sword swallowers, all doing their thing to the music of Freddie Mercury and the gang. Like I said, an incredible San Francisco night.

After popping by the White Horse for a couple more rounds, Kayla and I found ourselves at Café Mason for some late night sustenance. Sitting beneath the fluorescent lights, among the tourists and the drunks, and the drunk tourists, dunking my grilled cheese into tomato soup, we came to the conclusion that if we ever got married, we’d both be perfectly fine not moving in with each other. Upon sober reflection the next day, it still made sense.

What’s interesting about this idea is that it represents both the best and the worst things about the modern day Bay Area. On the one hand, it’s a reflection of the way our culture has shrugged off traditional values, especially surrounding things like courtship, marriage, and love. On the other, it’s directly influenced by the harrowing economic situation so many of us are in.

If Kayla and I were to live together it would be important that we each have our own separate spaces. Cramming two fiercely independent people into a studio apartment is a surefire way to destroy a relationship, no matter how much they love each other. But since we both currently have well priced rent and our own spaces, we can still spend every night together if we want, and still have whatever time to ourselves we want as well.

I actually think we’re onto something here. Granted neither of us really wants kids, so that makes things easier, but even if we did, would that really be so bad? There are millions of kids in America who shuttle between two or more homes because their parents aren’t together. So how would that be any different if their parents were together?

Who knows, it might just keep their parents together longer.

The crux of the damn thing is that, in most places people move in together because it cuts down on expenses. But in San Francisco if you’ve got a non greedy landlord or you have rent control, leaving that situation to play house with your partner actually causes your rent to go up.

The absolute worst scenario, and one that far too many of us have experienced, is breaking up with your live in significant other, and not being able to afford to move out. I can feel how many of you just shuddered at that sentence. Last time I lived with a partner and we broke up was 2012, and I was lucky enough to be able to get into the place I’m at now before the entire rental market went looney tunes. But if that happened in this rental market, there’s a good chance I’d have to leave San Francisco forever, and hell, I can’t even afford Oakland anymore.

Now we’re not getting married anytime soon, but given the state of things, I think being married and living in separate places would be perfectly fine by me. Because significant others come and go, but rent control is forever…if you’re lucky.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list to stay up on the work he’s doing: http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His guest column, Broke-Ass City, runs Thursdays in the Examiner.

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