My Gritty Galveston
THE DRAW TO GALVESTON IS ONE OF UNCERTAINTY AND POTENTIAL SCRUTINY. Since the Great Storm of 1900, Texans off the island have long warned against and turned their noses to the idea of living on a sand bar. But guess what? That is exactly what we want them to do. Stay away, this island is ours! They may think this part of the Gulf of Mexico is dirty, and by association, so is our community. But we all know what the ocean can look like here on calm and dry October days.
Every time a storm looms, the reality of losing everything is daunting. We residents stay because of this ethereal feeling island life brings. Try to sum that up to anyone who has never experienced a Tuesday, aquamarine, glassy day on the Gulf and they look at you weird.
Up until about three years ago, the cost of living in Galveston was so affordable that young people, newlyweds, and first time home buyers actually had a chance. My rent on a four bedroom home in 2010 was $800 a month. Now you are lucky to rent a one-bedroom apartment for $1,200, or buy anything move-in ready for under $250,000. Of course, the old timers will tell you that they have seen a dozen resurgences over their lives. However, this is something different. Property values have increased so fast that no one can believe it.
Several contributors throughout this issue mention Airbnb. The positive I see in the increase of Airbnb activity on our island is that Galveston aesthetically looks better. The potential negative is that Airbnb is pricing us off of our island. What then shall our community members consist of?
Why now are we seeing skyrocketing property values, in the middle of a pandemic, with sea level rising and natural disasters increasing in consistency and intensity? If you look at the county wide numbers, we are growing in population. People are moving to this part of Texas by the thousands and Galveston is more popular than ever. Tourists and transplants are on to us. They are coming and they want a place to call their own.
I love this gritty island we call Galveston. I love waking up to sea breeze and fog knowing it will burn off by 10am. I love that I can hear a train whistle, cruise ship horn, and waves crashing all at the same time from my midtown home. I am beyond curious about the change that is surely coming. However, I am happy to wait it out, hoping that our island quirks may detour the masses a little longer.