Gate Keepers Make $300 Per Day And Rentals Are Full

In the oilfield, you could make $75,000 just watching the gate. A retired teacher now makes anywhere from $100 to $300 per day logging trucks coming in and out of an oil & gas lease in South Texas. 100's of job openings are creating opportunity for residents across the region. Three Rivers' population of 2,400 wasn't quite ready for the boom. Rentals are scarce and you can almost forget about buying a home. There aren't any on the market. 

But workers do, in shifts, and there aren't enough houses, hotel rooms or apartments to hold them all. Rooms at small, independently owned motels that a year ago went for $50 are now renting for $100 to $150 a night, about the same as the Omni Bayfront in Corpus Christi.

The Atria, a 42-unit hotel that opened in April, was full in its first week, manager C.J. Patel said. A similar hotel is under construction next door.

Landlords who once leased three-bedroom houses to locals for $500 a month are letting their leases run out, doubling or tripling rent, and leasing to oil field workers from San Antonio. Gas stations and restaurants have windows plastered with ads offering bedrooms for rent.

A friend of Sowell's placed a sign at the restaurant's cash register advertising RV rentals. Thirty minutes later, he called and begged Sowell to take it down.

"His phone hadn't stopped ringing," Sowell said. "He was tired of taking calls."

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