Rent is too damn high: Buttigieg, husband ripped online for complaining about cost of their D.C. abode

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and husband Chasten were mocked on social media Monday after the Biden Cabinet official spouse complained about the high cost of their rental in Washington, D.C.

Chasten said in an interview with The Washington Post that their abode in Eastern Market is far and away more expensive than their home in South Bend, Ind., where Pete served as mayor from 2012 to 2020.

“We couldn’t afford the one-bedroom-plus-den,” Chasten told the paper.

So as an alternative, the couple said they rented an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom place without a den in a high-security building where rent starts for those accommodations at $4,500 a month, according to the Post, which also reported that rent actually increased after the Buttigieges signed their lease in the weeks following President Joe Biden’s victory.

“We’re doing fine for ourselves, and [yet] the city is almost unaffordable,” Chasten told the Post. “Which tells you how extremely unaffordable it is for many people.”

Chasten, who is a former middle school drama teacher, is currently unemployed, while Pete earns $221,400 as transportation secretary. Besides their apartment in D.C., the couple also owns a home in Traverse City, on Lake Michigan, which they bought after selling their place in South Bend earlier this year, according to the Post.

The paper also reported that the couple’s favorite hobby is “playing Zillow Price is Right, where they try to guess the out-of-reach appraisal values of homes they admire and then look up the actual estimate online.”

The puff piece and the complaints about rent prices drew mockery and derision from both sides of the political arena on social media.

“Imagine being so far removed from the real world that you complain about your $4,500/mo apartment not having a den,” Abigail Marone, the press secretary for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), tweeted.

“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,” she added.

She added in another tweet: “‘We’re doing fine for ourselves, and [yet] the city is almost unaffordable.’ Buttigieg makes well over $200K, spends $4,500 on rent, and him & Chasten are complaining that the city is unaffordable? How is this not an Onion article?”

“You can get a nice 1BR (or a 2BR in some cases) for significantly less than $4,500 a month in DC…” Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey noted.

“My roommate and I have a 2 bed/2 bath + den in the middle of the city and our rent costs nowhere near $4500 a month,” added CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson.

“Hilarious how Mr. Wine Cave Buttigieg is whining that he ONLY makes $221,400 a year,” wrote Andrew Follett, a senior analyst for the organization Club for Growth. “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.”

“If you can’t afford an apartment in Washington DC while making over $220,000 a year (just from the Transportation Sec salary – who knows what other money he has), you shouldn’t be overseeing any federal agency,” said former Nevada GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian.

After the story was first published, the Post changed its copy, as noted by Morgan Baskin, a housing and poverty reporter for DCist.

Jon Dougherty

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