The cost of housing in Florida has skyrocketed in the last few years, impacting residents across the state.
WPTV spoke to teachers who are struggling to find affordable housing on their salaries while some have left the profession in search of higher-paying jobs.
Jennifer Mulvey is an English teacher who lives in Okeechobee County with her son, but lately, she’s had a lot more on her plate.
“I have 125 students. I want that to be my focus,” Mulvey said. “I don’t want my focus to be where am I going to live.”
Her landlord is selling the place where she lives, so she has to find a new home in a short amount of time. It’s something that she said is hard to do on a teacher’s salary.
“It’s really left me in a bind because school just started back and my son is a senior and housing is very hard to find here in Okeechobee,” Mulvey said. “There’s just not a lot of affordable options.”
According to Zillow, the average cost for a home in Okeechobee County is more than $250,000. But Mulvey’s budget is $100,000 less than that figure.
“For this area, there’s just not a lot available that’s within the price range,” Mulvey said.
Meanwhile, some teachers who have a home are facing struggles to afford them.
Lynn Winn teaches English in St. Lucie County and is struggling to make ends meet amid rising costs.
“My mortgage basically has gone up $600 a month in the last four years of owning a home and my paycheck does not reflect that,” Winn said.
Winn said several of her colleagues have opted to leave teaching altogether in order to find higher-paying jobs.
“It’s also pushing educators out as a profession,” Winn said. “As a profession, we’re losing very talented people.”
As for Mulvey, she’s not giving up on teaching just yet. She’s trying to scrape together enough money to afford a down payment.
“Staying here would just mean the world to me,” Mulvey said. “This is where I want to retire. This is where I wanna grow old, and I feel like my work will not be done if I can’t afford to stay here.”