I HAVE taken it for granted that Edinburgh has and always will be my home. After fourteen years in the city, it has finally beaten me. Thanks to a toxic rental market and the rising cost of living, my family are coming to terms with a brutal truth: we no longer belong here.

In September 2017, Christopher Silver wrote about leaving the city in his piece, Expiring Capital. He wrote of luxury developers and buy-to-let landlords consuming the town, and the colonisation of working-class areas. As I read it, I almost slammed my laptop shut. The words caught my breath because I knew this was an omen. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the unrelenting wealth-seekers would wash us out like so many others. I knew that we would not be able to surf forever.

When I first moved to Edinburgh at 18, my partner and I rented a big one bedroom flat on Cockburn Street. It was over two floors, with views over Princes Street Gardens. It cost less than £500 a month – something we could afford on his junior web developer salary and my part-time sales assistant wage and student loan. The idea of two young people trying to make a life in a stylish home in a prime location is incompatible with the city I know now. Here, properties are assets, not homes, so no one is concerned about ensuring there are enough for those that need them.

When we had children, we rented four bedrooms in a nice area for under £900. We could afford it with our jobs. Years later as a single mother, a three bedroom semi in the suburbs has been manageable with my income. But now, we have to leave our home of eight years, and we cannot find somewhere to go. The cost has long outstripped my means.

Rents have increased in Edinburgh five times faster than they have elsewhere. To find somewhere comparable to my – I almost called it “my” house there – to this place, within easy travelling distance of my current postcode for schools and work, I need to find nearly double what I’ve been paying.

I’ve scaled everything back to the point that I can’t downgrade our life to a cheaper tariff. There are no luxuries, no comforts – just enough left to maintain the status quo. We exist here now, and that is all. To make Edinburgh work, I need a house that costs less and a job that pays considerably more. The fist has been closing for some time. The ever-tightening squeeze of rent, bills and living has finally gotten proved fatal to our future. It’s either leave or be crushed by it.

The capital has been becoming less hospitable to renters for years. According to Living Rent, tenants in Edinburgh spend as much as 40% of their income on rent. When so much of your income is spent on housing and associated costs, the idea of putting anything aside to buy a property is laughable. We have no choice but to stay where we are, until we can’t even afford that.

Once upon a time, at most tenants would be asked for one month’s rent up front. Now, they’re looking for a month and a half or even two months’ in advance. For us, the size of a property we need is now around £1100 a month, that’s £1500-2000 up front before initial rent and moving costs. People who have no choice but to rent because they can’t afford to save for a mortgage deposit don’t have that sort of money lying around.

The cost of housing has fast outstripped earnings. And now we have a new problem to contend with: AirBnb. Edinburgh has over 9,000 listings – that’s one holiday let for every resident. It is far more lucrative for a landlord to rent short term to travellers than it is to rent their property to a tenant who wants to make a home. I’ve experienced this first hand this week when I asked a friend about a place they’d been renting out for a decade: “I’m really sorry but I AirBnB this place now and it’s just better than standard rent.”

I saw this myself, counting lockboxes like metal barnacles on doorposts, as I went from viewing to fruitless viewing. Properties are leaving the long-term rental market because short term holiday lets give landlords more money and more flexibility. Why would you settle for £1000 a month to rent your property to tenants, when you could make £1700+ renting it out to visitors for two weeks?

The result is that there are precious few affordable places to live. For families with more than two children, the situation is nigh on impossible. I’ve come up against a new problem: landlords specifying a maximum number of kids in their property, despite the number of rooms available. Of the few places that meet our requirements, the rent is so exorbitant I’d need to be earning around £45k a year. If I did, I wouldn’t be renting. It’s a telling catch-22.

READ MORE: Scotland's capital housing rents among top 50 in Europe

Thanks to The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, local authorities in Scotland can already apply to Scottish Ministers to introduce a Rent Pressure Zone. These can be introduced where rent is rising too quickly, where rises cause problems for tenants, and the council is under pressure to provide housing. Three years later, there no such zones in Scotland, because methodologies do not yet exist for gathering enough data to establish if an RPZ is merited. The system is unworkable and leaves tenants at the mercy of the market.

Walking through the city feels like an insult. Developers colonise every bit of open ground with cookie-cutter luxury apartments, aparthotels, and student accommodation. They taunt those of us who have given ourselves to the city until we are empty and are turned away.

I could never afford to buy in the city. That window of opportunity has closed and disappeared, never to be recovered. Not an inch of this city is meant to be owned by someone like me. What’s worse, is that even renting is now beyond me. Urban space is not on the cards for my family. It makes me wonder who this city is for, other than those who’ve never had to worry about too much month at the end of their money.

This week I have felt loneliness settle in my bones. The particular loneliness that comes from being in a city full of people going about their lives. I feel grief in knowing that all that has been familiar will and must change – our house, our shops, our dentist and GP. Where we walk our dogs.

I tell you this not as a sob story, but to underline what tenants lose because the housing sector is not fair and not adequately regulated: we are losing our home. We are losing the life we’ve built here: our memories, our friends. I do not want to go.

The fates have spun out their thread, measured it at fourteen years and no more. Without rent control to help sustain vibrant, diverse demography, how long is Edinburgh’s?