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May 03, 2011

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Yeah, given those jobs they could do a lot better in cheaper towns.

In their city they really are in the 'lower' middle class level given the high cost of living there. Those jobs are pretty transportable and they could make a decent combined income in a low cost city.


One nitpicky detail: It says he is a dispatcher. That is not really the same as a firefighter. Dispatchers make about $34k average nationally. Whereas firefighters make median $45k.


Nationally though he's not 'lower' middle class. They make about 50% more than median household income and are in the top 10-20%. Thats upper middle class I'd say at least compared to national average.

Also, I would put a nurses salary at much higher than 30k/year. Depending on the type of nursing, I would expect it to be around 50-60k, and that is before overtime and shift premiums. It depends on if they are an RN or LPN, but even an LPN average nationwide is 48k.

I think that it is hard when you live in a high cost of living area, to not compare yourself with everyone around you. I would guess he is solidly middle-class instead of lower-middleclass. But it sounds like he lives in an upper-middleclass area, which leads to unfavorable comparisons.

Yep, it's all relative to where you live.

$100,000 would be great where I live, where the median household income is around $58,000 (or there abouts).

I think this family could probably optimize their income scenario if they put a bit of effort into it.

I think this points to a real problem we have with these very expensive communities. They don't provide housing for middle class folks. So the teachers, dispatchers, etc either feel impoverished living in these towns or often have to commute from far away.

Westport is beyond fancy. It's a big Wall Street town. My company used to be in Westport. Barely anyone lived there. Most people lived farther north in CT, where cost of living is much cheaper. Yes, there's a commute, but still their money would go a lot further farther north.

This situation begs the question: where exactly are people who work in and serve high cost of living areas - but do NOT earn the corresponding salary - supposed to live? If all of the people who currently teach, put out fires and police the streets of these communities move to a community that is more affordable, but provides a similar salary - WHO is going to teach their children, put out their fires and police their streets?

@Alotta - my guess is they will live somewhere cheaper, and still commute to the job in the high-cost area.

Sometimes people might have a very strong want (or need, in certain cases) to live in a particular place. You never know what each family's situation is.

That notwithstanding, it's really all about choices. If someone wants to live in a certain place, for whatever amenities (schools,panache, image, shopping/dining, curb appeal of homes, etc) are attractive to them, they'll have to pay. It might be worth it for some people to make that choice. In which case, they may have a lower net worth but so be it. Can't get something for nothing, that applies all around.

I think your math is wrong. $100,000 in Westport would be like $65,000.

One thing to keep in mind here is the level of opportunities that your kids will have living in a high cost of living city like Westport versus a lower cost of living area. The public schools are better, the caliber of people that will surround your kid will be higher, the environment will be safer, etc. Now, living in a high cost of living area can have a downside in that regard, too - there will probably be at least a handful of snobs. But it might be worth it to some families to live in a smaller / less fancy place and drive a cheaper car in order to provide a better environment with more opportunities for their kids.

Keith --

Westport is 155% or 2.55 times more expensive than the average US city. $39,200 times 2.55 = $100k.

Those that talk about living father out and commuting. There is a quality of life difference to that. I worked in NYC for 8 years. I choose to live in a safe part of Queens where I felt poor. I had co-workers that lived in Bethlehem, PA. The difference I didn't leave for work at 5 am and get home at 8 PM from the 2 hour daily commute. An they had to leave at 5 and get in early in order not to have a longer than 2 hour commute.

I know someone that works in a hospital not to far away from Westport, and the starting salary for a nurse, with signing bonus, was $120K. Apparently a higher value is placed on quality healthcare. I guess that exemplifies your previous post about insurance.

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