PHOENIX — In November 2020 when Stefanie Netzel, her boyfriend, and their five-year-old son moved into their two-bedroom apartment in north Phoenix, they planned to stay for a while.
"Live here and save money and buy a home in the future. But this was going to be our place until we moved into a home," she said.
Her family spent the rest of the year getting her son settled first in virtual kindergarten, and then in-person kindergarten, then back home as the pandemic ebbed and flowed.
She hoped that things would stabilize during her son's 1st-grade year, but a letter from her apartment in July 2021 made that unlikely.
"They said I had a renewal offer and it was for 12 months at $1,900," Netzel told ABC15.
It would be a $548 increase in rent beginning in September or they could go month to month for $2,100 but they had to make the choice by July 31.
"I was absolutely shocked," she said.
Crystal Chen with Zumper.com, a rental listing site that keeps track of prices in cities around the country, said the increase is well above the current average for Phoenix.
This time last year she said the average two-bedroom apartment in Phoenix was about $1,270 per month. In July 2021 that number is $1,390.
"So, it's still less expensive than the building that you're referring to," she said.
Year over year Chen said Phoenix rental prices have increased by 9% but Netzel's apartment jumped by 36%.
"It's so stressful," Netzel said.
And it's unsustainable for her family but she says right now they have no other choice since they can't find anywhere else. After our story aired Netzel told ABC15 they are opting for the month-to-month option which will cost $2,100 a month but are holding out hope that they find something else before their lease runs out. But she knows eventually that new place will mean even more changes for her son.
"We don't want to keep uprooting his life, because the cost of living keeps increasing dramatically," Netzel said.