Friday, August 7, 2009

Crashpad Living

A Crowded Hub Away From Home

This isn’t an exaggeration.

Before scooping up the loose change out of the couch cushions, and rolling our pennies together to buy our modest nest, I had the experience of crashpad living for myself.

So how did a married 27 year-old women find herself in this living situation? Well M’s first year at his current airline was spent commuting back and forth between Atlanta and Florida. On busy months I would go for weeks without seeing him. When the lease on our apartment in Florida ended in 2007, I decided I’d had enough and bounced for Atlanta. While we figured out what our next step would be, and if Atlanta was the right place for us to settle, I became the 7th roomie.

Our situation was not as military barracks-like as the typical crashpad. Our “pad” was a beautiful new 3-story home purchased by a real estate investor in 2006 right before the bubble burst. Living in California, he had no use for the home and was desperate to rent it for cheap. M and I had one floor entirely to ourselves. The “honeymooners suite” as it was referred to. The other 5 pilots shared rooms on the other 2 floors.

It was a rare occurrence for more than 1-2 other people to be home at the same time, which made the arrangements slightly less awkward. It also helped that we had known everyone living in the house for years. They had gone thru the same flight school together, and after graduation went to work for the same (now defunct) airline before getting hired by their current airline. Nice group of fellows.

After the lease on the house expired in 2008, two of the guys moved back in with their parents because they couldn’t afford more than $300 a month for rent. The third and fourth guy got an apartment offered by their church. The fifth guy pays $200 a month for a spot in a crashpad near the airport where he sleeps on an air mattress.

We know many people living in places like the one described in the Washington Post article. Not out of choice, but necessity. Heck, we even know people who live in pop-up campers in the airport parking lot. As a single person working for a regional airline you don’t have many options with a starting salary in the teens, and 5-6 figures worth of loans from flight school (nevermind what your bachelors degree already cost you.) You do what you can to get by, hoping the time you put in will one day be rewarded with a spot at a major carrier.

This is a job you do for the love, not the money.

Fortunately for M, he’s got a Sugar Momma winning him some bread in the mean time.

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