- San Francisco’s high cost of living has made it difficult for artists to stay there.
- Stage actress Beth Wilmurt told KQED that she’s managed to live in San Francisco for most of her life despite making $US30,000 ($AU38,900) a year, on average.
- Wilmurt said she cut out internet, cable, Netflix, and a car to afford city living.
Beth Wilmurt, a stage actress who has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of her life, makes as much money in a year as some people spend on a single month’s rent in the city.
She earns $US30,000 a year, on average, between acting and her side hustles – teaching music and babysitting. Wilmurt told local broadcasting station KQED that she’s made it work living in San Francisco over her nearly three-decade career, though it’s getting harder all the time.
The Bay Area has become unlivable for many artists, artisans, longtime residents, and even tech entrepreneurs. A lack of affordable housing and out-of-control housing prices have caused many people, including Wilmurt, to flood the rental market. In March, San Francisco’s median two-bedroom rent of $US3,040 was about two and a half times as high as the national average.
San Francisco lost more residents than any other US city in the last quarter of 2017, according to data from real-estate site Redfin.
Wilmurt, who has performed in around 60 stage productions over the last 30 years, told KQED that she’s managed to stay in the Bay Area by cutting out what some would consider necessities.
“No car, no internet at home, no Netflix, no cable,” she said. “I’m on a family phone plan – I share 2GB of data with four people.” Wilmurt has a flip phone instead of a smartphone.
She and her partner, Mark Jackson, a theatre director, have occupied the same rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment in the hip Haight neighbourhood since 1996. The monthly rent: $US500.
“Rent control is the golden handcuff,” Wilmurt told KQED. “If I lost that, I’d have to leave for sure.”
She added that the home is falling apart and in need of repairs.
Wilmurt holds many jobs. According to KQED, she directs local children’s and senior choruses, teaches at an elementary school in the Mission, leads summer-camp workshops, and babysits.
The performer said her lifestyle has always been driven by her artistic goals – “not a strategic plan for my financial future.” She hopes to stay in the area, but she’s aware of the difficulties.
“For the first time I am feeling insecure about my financial future as I am feeling the effects of ageing,” Wilmurt said. “The word ‘hustle,’ which I guess is what I’ve been doing all these years, is now feeling like hustling, and needs to be a more financially driven hustle than art-driven.”