Fish-Out-of-Water Chasten Finds DC 'Almost Unaffordable' & 'Inauthentic'

Friday July 30, 2021
Originally published on July 28, 2021

The Washington Post described Chasten Buttigieg as "the breakout star of Pete's 2020 presidential campaign. The middle-school drama teacher was a novelty. Not just because he was the man married to an openly gay presidential candidate, but because he was young, a savvy and self-effacing user of social media, enthusiastic about pop culture in a way that didn't feel strained or strategic."

But once they landed in DC, it was a Reality Check time. One thing that hit the Buttigieges was the high cost of living. "Average rent in Washington, DC is $2,126, according to RentCafe, two times the average rent in South Bend," reported Business Insider.

"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." 

But he did admit the couple had to downsize their wants when they went apartment hunting in DC. "'We couldn't afford the one-bedroom-plus-den,' Chasten told The Post. Available two-bedrooms in the luxury building currently start at $5,650, according to The Post. The Buttigieges decided on the place because of the security provided and its location, the outlet reported."

They chose a high-end, 800-square-foot, one bedroom apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, The Post reported. They secured a longer lease for $3,000, with two months rent-free, according to the outlet.

But housing wasn't the only thing that Chasten has found different than South Bend. "In Washington, Chasten is more of a fish out of water than he was on the campaign. He remains bewildered by many of Washington's social mores," wrote the Post.

He cited an example of how the Buttigieges recently received a dinner invitation with two notes on what to expect: "Super casual. No work." Though skeptical, "he eventually pulled on chinos and a polo shirt. 'I was like, "I swear to God, if we show up and everyone's in suits and dresses.?.?. ," ' he says. 'And we showed up and everyone was in suits and dresses.' "

He also has trust issues with Washington culture. "It's very hard to make a friend when everybody wants something from your husband," he says. "Or they're expecting him to do something. It makes interactions feel inauthentic a lot. You just kind of have to always have your guard up."

He even recounted how he after choosing a gym where he met a trainer who seemed friendly enough; that is, until he approached him to say he also worked as a lobbyist and would pass on some information to the secretary.

"It was like, 'Well, can't go here. Can't go to the lobbyist gym,'?" Chasten said.