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In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr Buttigieg noted the stark difference in the cost of living compared to their previous home in the midwest.
“We’re doing fine for ourselves, and [yet] the city is almost unaffordable,” he said. “Which tells you how extremely unaffordable it is for many people.”
Six months ago the couple moved into an 800 square foot, one-bedroom apartment in an upscale secure building in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood.
Their rent works out at approximately $3,000 a month as they signed a long-term lease that included two months for free, according to the Post. An earlier version of the article listed the apartment as $4,500 per month — drawing criticism from some quarters.
Mr Buttigieg told the outlet that they couldn’t afford the one-bedroom-plus-den layout. Two-bedroom units in the same building are reportedly listed for $5,650.
The average rent in Washington is approximately $2,100 according to data from Zumper, and ZipRecruiter lists the average salary as $73,000.
According to the US Office of Personnel Management, the transportation secretary’s salary is $221,400. Mr Buttigieg, formerly a middle-school teacher, is not currently working.
His assertion that the capital is unaffordable for many is not incorrect. Data from Payscale.com shows that the cost of living in Washington, DC is 39 per cent more expensive than the national average, with the cost of housing 148 per cent higher.
While Washington is an expensive place to live, some questioned whether the Buttigiegs needed to spend so much on rent — though being in a secure is a must as the couple has received threats in the past.
Fellow DC residents were quick to offer suggestions as to where to look online for something cheaper than the initially reported figure of $4,500 per month.
Across the aisle, there was plenty of scorn tweeted by Republicans looking to score points on the alleged profligacy of the Buttigiegs.
“Hilarious how Mr Wine Cave Buttigieg is whining that he ONLY makes $221,400 a year,” wrote Club for Growth senior analyst Andrew Follett. “The problem isn’t DC’s real estate market (which I’ve personally lived with and in for years)... it’s that Dems elites are incredibly fiscally irresponsible… even in their personal lives.”
“Imagine being so far removed from the real world that you complain about your $4,500/mo apartment not having a den,” tweeted Abigail Marone, press secretary for Senator Josh Hawley. “Americans are struggling to afford basic necessities thanks to #bidenflation but poor Pete & Chasten don’t get a den in their high-end building. Boo hoo.”
The Buttigiegs sold their home in South Bend, Indiana, where the transportation secretary was mayor prior to his bid for the presidency, earning him the nickname “Mayor Pete” throughout the Democratic primaries.
They have since bought a home in Chasten’s hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where his parents still live.