BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The price of paradise is so high, one Bonita Springs couple is forced to live in their car — a reality they’ve been dealing with for the past five months.
Teri Santerfeit, Blu Skinner and their dog, Bubba Ray, used to live right outside Tallahassee.
“We came down here because he was having trouble finding work and he had a good job opportunity down here,” Teri said.
Blu got a job offer at a hardware company. He works six days a week while Teri goes to school full-time online. She had a job, but recently quit due to medical reasons.
The biggest problem they’re having: finding a place to call home.
“We were looking online, on different websites, we’ve looked on Facebook marketplace. The cheapest I found was $1,800,” Teri explained.
According to rent.com. the average price for a one bedroom apartment in Bonita Springs is $2,283. Many places require people to make two to three times the amount of the rent. In this case, you would have to make close to $55,000.
On top of that, many companies require potential renters to pay first, last and security. That’s close to $7,000 in up front costs, if you can find a place to rent a the average price.
“And nobody has $7,000 just to dish out,” Teri said. “We’re still looking and trying to find a place or even just find a cheap RV to buy.”
They say they’ve tried to find shelters, rental assistance programs and RV parks to stay at. Some are helping, but at this moment, they have to live in their small Kia.
“For food we shop at Dollar Tree,” Teri said. “We use an Artic Air box to keep us cool and charge it with a solar panel.”
They said they never expected to be in this position. It’s something they’re trying to adjust to every day.
Teri and Blu say what keeps them going is their dog, Bubba Ray, and a message Teri holds close to her heart.
“One thing I was always taught growing up with my great grandmother is God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors. So he’s preparing us for something better,” she explained. “There will always be a rainbow after the storm.”