By Kay Kemmet | Sioux City Weekender
Brad Wehde awkwardly described his living situation to his friends and romantic interests.
After finishing his degree in architecture at Iowa State University, Wehde moved home to Sioux City and did the unthinkable, he crashed at his parents house leaving his father to wonder, “What did I do wrong?”
Of course, Wehde said, his mom loved it.
Wehde looked around for apartment but was unimpressed. He started looking for houses but didn’t find much he liked. After renting for about six years, he was ready to get his own place.
He planned to crash with his parents for a couple months but ended up staying at home for a year and a half.
“There were so many times I just wanted to move in with a buddy,” Wehde, 25, said. “I sacrificed 18 months of my life.”
But it paid off. Wehde moved into a three-bedroom condo in the Williges Lofts, an apartment he was able to design as an architectural designer at Connelly, Tiehen & Sons, Inc. The firm built the Williges, a new complex filled with market-rate lofts.
The condos range in price from $104,000 to $152,900 depending on size, and Wehde was able to save up for his condo by bunking with his parents.
For Sioux City young professionals, finding a place to call home isn’t as easy as one would hope.
Some are pickier than others seeking the latest updates and are willing to pay extra. Others just want their own place to lay their head at night.
Either way, the options is Sioux City seem to be limited, and while all cities come with pros and cons, Sioux City’s apartment availability may lie in the con column.
Many apartment dwellers live on the north side of Sioux City, which is teeming with complexes such as Glen Oaks and Candlewick.
Other complexes can be found throughout the city, westside, eastside and Morningside, but for a modern apartment with all the amenities, some of the larger complexes outfitted with pools and fitness centers can be a good bet — if you can afford a slight hike in rent.
Most of these places have long waiting lists.
Some young professionals still call mom and dad’s house home.
The rent’s just too damn high
Megan Dickinson likes having her own space, but the cost of living on her own has the 24-year-old event planner packing up her one-bedroom apartment and moving back in with her parents.
Dickinson moved home to Sioux City in late 2012 and into the Glen Oaks apartment complex just north of Indian Hills Boulevard. She was drawn to the modern appliances, amenities like a washer and dryer and a walk-in closet.
Her initial rent was $755 for less than 700 square feet, but her rent has since gone up to $790. That’s not including cable, Internet, electricity and other utilities. Total, Dickinson said she spends about $1,000 a month just to live.
“No one my age wants to move in with their parents,” Dickinson said, but her cost of living left her without much cash to pay off her student loans and car payments and with nothing to save.
“I’m not saving money now,” said Dickinson who works at a Downtown Sioux City hotel. If she lives with her parents for a year, Dickinson said she can save around $12,000.
That’s enough to pay off those student loans or her car or to put a down payment down on a house.
At first her parents weren’t game.
“I don’t think anyone wants to send their kid to college and then have them come back home,” Dickinson said.
After she explained how much money she could save, Dickinson said, her parents warmed to the idea.
Moving home does come with some rules, Dickinson said. She has to actually save that money or use it toward paying back her loans. She also has to tell them where she’s going and when she’s going to be home, but Dickinson said that shouldn’t be too difficult.
“I’m really close with my family,” she added.
Dickinson has lived on her own for six years. She went to school in Orlando, Fla., and then moved to Ankeny, a suburb of Des Moines.
“The hard part is there isn’t a lot open in Sioux City,” said Dickinson who looked for a less expensive place before deciding to move back in with her parents.
“The apartments I’ve seen turn me off.”
Apartments without central air and amenities like a washer and dryer on site. She also saw a lot of places that cost more for low quality or outdated appliances and a lack of space. Her apartment at Glen Oaks has everything she wants, Dickinson said, but the price is her main drawback.
“I love Sioux City,” Dickinson said. “You’re going to find something you don’t like in a town and, right now, it’s the apartments.”
Dickinson and Wehde aren’t the only 20-somethings thinking about saving up to buy their own places. Charlie Cowell, a 25-year-old city planner, also plans to buy a one-bedroom apartment in the Williges building.
The Williges apartments range from $104,000 to $109,900 for one-bedrooms, Cowell said.
Cowell moved to Sioux City last July after finishing his master’s degree at the University of Iowa. He lives in the Candlewick Apartments on Outer Drive.
His apartment at Candlewick has vaulted ceilings, a fireplace and about 800 square feet for $675 a month. That price includes a washer and dryer, cable and discounted Internet.
Cowell likes his place, he said, but he also couldn’t pass on buying his own apartment and living downtown. Instead of a 10-minute drive to City Hall, he’ll live an alley away.
“It was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Cowell said.
When he started looking for apartments in Sioux City last summer, Cowell said nearly every place he looked at was full. He drove around the town looking at rent signs, checked out ads and put his name on waiting lists. That’s how he got into the Candlewick apartments.
David Brockshus, an intern architect at Cannon Moss Brygger Architects, had a similar experience. He had about a week to find a place to live, and mostly relied on the Internet to find his place.
The majority of rentals still don’t have an online presence, he said.
He lucked out and found a space at Glen Oaks, but said his options were limited because most apartments had waiting lists.
To get his apartment downtown, Brockshus, 25, subleased a space from his friend, and now landlord, Wehde. His rent in the Williges will be less than it was at his previous one-bedroom apartment.
Mostly Cowell and Brockshus said they looked forward to being able to walk to work and local entertainment.
Wehde’s going from having embarrassing conversations about living with his parents to showing of his prime real estate loft.
When Cowell moved to Sioux City, he looked into living downtown and said he quickly learned the only availability was to buy a loft or get into a building with mostly income-restricted apartments.
“It was disappointing,” Cowell said who was just out of college at the time and didn’t have the capital to buy.
After saving for the past nine months and hearing people say it’s better to buy young, Cowell decided to purchase a spot in the Williges. He’s been renting for six years, and said “I’m sick of that money just going away.”
Even if he only lives in the apartment for a year or decides to move away from Sioux City, Cowell said he can rent the place and give someone else an opportunity to live downtown.
“I think it’s a big deal for the city in general,” Cowell said. “You need that pedestrian traffic.”
Downtown is often busy on weekend nights, Cowell said, but during the week, the sidewalks are pretty deserted.
“I’d love to live in a town where I could walk to the farmers market or dinner with friends,” Dickinson said. “It’s just not really feasible here in Sioux City.”
Not unless she can afford to buy her own condo or snag one of the few available spots downtown.
The Williges may provide a couple more spaces to renters if the owners decide to sublease some of the apartments, but until then, Sioux City’s young professionals are left with pretty limited options and a host of wait lists.
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