I'm a Capitalist.

I believe in supply and demand.  I believe that if it's not broken, don't fix it when it comes to a system that has worked for decades.  Capitalism, while not perfect, has helped more people rise out of poverty than any other economic system that I can think of.

Having said that, something has to give.  Seriously.

Most every morning when I leave for work, I head to my local convenience store to grab a Diet Dr. Pepper. On the way there, I drive by what looks like a little makeshift RV refuge and it appears to be growing...quickly. What started out as a couple of campers, has turned into multiple campers, a few motorhomes, and a tent or two.

Yes, tents. That's where we're at with all this.

I won't tell you how much my wife and I pay for rent, but I will tell you it's double what we paid in North Dakota.  The cost of housing was a huge factor in our decision to move to Bozeman. It caused a lot of sleepless nights and we wanted to be positive that we were doing the right thing.

I've heard several stories of those with rental properties raising the monthly rent by one or two hundred a month.  Sometimes more.  I've heard reports of property owners changing the lease lengths to fewer months, so they can cash in.

I can only imagine what it must be like for Bozeman natives.  To have lived here your whole life and all of the sudden, you can't afford housing.  That seems incredibly wrong to me.  I understand the frustration and the hesitation of the growth that is happening around our city.

Photo by Derek Wolf
Photo by Derek Wolf

While it's great for the economy, and there are jobs galore, if people can't afford housing, there won't be anyone to fill those positions and it seems like that's what we're seeing.

Tourism is the number one industry in Bozeman, and if we're shutting things down at 4 pm, or if we're not opening a day or two during the week because of lack of staff, how will that effect those visiting? At some point, wouldn't it seem like if there aren't the services available that tourists want and need, that they'll go someplace else?  I realize that a whole lot of folks would be just fine with that, but it is nice as a consumer to have options.

I wish I had the answer to the problem.  As I said, I'm a Capitalist, but I also believe if something doesn't change here soon, we're going to have some pretty big issues.  How much is too much?  At what point do you say enough is enough?  What's your breaking point?  It seems like there are a lot of questions and we'll have to wait for the answers.

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