Jan 23, 2015 11:34 AM

NH1 Investigates: Pricey Portsmouth - is city too expensive?


PORTSMOUTH- Portsmouth is a city with more seats in restaurants than residents, but can those who work in those restaurants even afford to live there?

The Seacoast city attracts thousands of tourists all year, but are those who call the Port City home being priced out?

Roger Pelletier thinks so. He moved out of Portsmouth after living there for 20 years.

"It's too much money to live here, people are being priced out," Pelletier said.

The cost of living is a concern for many city councilors including Esther Kennedy.

"Our last assessment for the first time, residents were paying more assessed value than our businesses were," Kennedy said.

According to Zillow.com, the median home value in Portsmouth is more than $322,000. They say that's up 11.6 percent from last year.

54% of residents in Portsmouth rent. The median price per square foot is higher in Portsmouth than in the Boston-Metro area.

Kennedy says new high end commercial development is costing the tax-payers money, and it could mean less affordable housing.

"Condos, apartments and it really does not allow the workforce housing to be a part of that," Kennedy said.

It's not just residents who are feeling the cost. A number of small businesses have been forced to close.

"Those businesses are slowly going away and what does that mean for our downtown," Kennedy said.

Kennedy says the city needs more money from the state, especially when it comes to meals and rooms tax. Without state aid, it's hard for the city to keep costs down for their residents.

"I think the city is responsible for making sure that we have a diversified business, a diversified population that can kind of work together and we have to spend some time on that as a city council," Kennedy said.

The city of Portsmouth has detailed information in their Economic Conditions report for FY13 on their website.


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