Poll: Housing costs hurt most

The high costs of housing and utilities are affecting people the most, according to the latest caycompass.com online poll.

Of the 368 respondents to the poll, 148 (40.2 per cent) said housing costs were affecting them most, while 141 (38.3 per cent) said it was higher utility costs that were affecting them most.

Other costs affecting residents the most included transportation (32 respondents, or 8.7 per cent) and food (25 people or 6.8 per cent). Twenty-two respondents (6 per cent) stated other costs were affecting them most.

Many respondents cited the high rent costs.

‘My rent is nearly four times what my mortgage on my home was in Dallas, Texas,’ said one person. ‘This is ridiculous and I hope landlords are required to justify the increased costs. Ivan didn’t cause all the problems but everyone uses this as the reason why.’

Another respondent also felt landlords were taking advantage of renters.

‘Since Hurricane Ivan, rental housing is on the moon! Someone should regulate the people renting to people who work on the island. In addition, lots of landlords keep the deposits for no clear reasons. It is a shame.’

Another respondent said he was paying 40 per cent of his take-home pay on rent for a two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment.

‘And I make a pretty good salary a month at approximately CI$4,410. So what are the people who make so much less doing? I hear that they are packing eight to 10 (low-income expatriates) into two bedroom apartments.’

Home owners are also feeling the pinch with higher interest rates and higher insurance costs.

‘Interest rates keep going up and it’s incredibly discouraging as a young Caymanian to get a foothold on the property market. I would not qualify for low income housing, but even with a well paid job and no car loan (imagine that!) mortgage interest rates are killing me.’

Another respondent also commented on interest rates.

‘Mortgage rates are very high – 10 per cent! Your payment comes out of your account with no advance notice of an increase.’

Another person spoke of the higher costs of home owners insurance.

‘As bad as the cost is, I don’t know if I’m under-insured or over-insured, but either way I won’t get what I should if I suffer damage.’

‘Insurance, by far, is the largest culprit,’ said another person.

Utilities were at the top of many people’s list of costs most affecting them.

‘What’s the use of talking?’ said one respondent. ‘Who listens anyway? They do what they want to do. Until we have some type of control we will always have this problem.’

Higher transportation costs are hurting many people as well.

‘With the gas prices, insurance prices, vehicle registration prices and maintenance prices, and the high cost of cars because of import duty, I can’t afford to drive here anymore,’ said one person.

‘I have said transportation, but in truth and fact, (all the listed higher costs) are spiralling out of control. Everything is higher except wages!’

One person mentioned the higher costs of a university education. Another spoke of the devaluing United States dollar as a higher cost.

However, insurance costs were cited as the problem again and again.

‘Insurance affects housing and transportation and health and pension and it’s all too much,’ said one person.

‘How can anyone afford family health insurance plus pension, plus house and car insurance, and have anything left to live on?’ asked another person.

Some people said they were affected by all of the higher costs.

‘It would have to be the extreme combination of all of them,’ said one person.

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