Author Topic: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.  (Read 17308 times)

dandarc

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #100 on: December 08, 2019, 10:44:33 AM »
@Malkynn continuing to run away with the "best poster of all time on the MMM forums" award.

fredbear

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #101 on: December 08, 2019, 11:31:23 AM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."  ...

There is a neighbor up the hill - perhaps you know him, he's the one who makes it clear he loves the earth far more than you do, to the extent that he sneaks over and unscrews the light you left on to help your wife drive into the garage, as her night vision is poor.  He posted on the neighborhood group that he wanted some one of us to take care of his dog while he went on a trip.  Now in my experience Malamutes are a sweet and affectionate breed, but they do not suffer the alphaic pretensions of other dogs.  Not at all.  To control this I use strict leash discipline when walking a Malamute, to the extent of getting off the trail and making the dog sit when we encounter another dog.  But the neighbor believes that dogs should be free; his cost him about $9000 by attacking other dogs while running free, savaging another neighbor's dog and pretty much Schwartzeneggering one of the little freepy dogs it met on the bike path.  He also decided he could integrate it into functioning as the Watch-Malamute for the flock: his "baby ducklings."  None survived.

So there is some reason for the general neighborhood perspective that this is a vicious bitch (VB).  None of us agreed to take care of her, particularly as, for the love of Gaia, he made it clear that when doing this favor we were not to drive up the road to his house, but to walk up 200 vertical feet, to take care of VB.  I suggested he use a local kennel where we had had good experience.  He thought this a pretty outrageous suggestion, expensive and un-neighborly.  It was only going to be a 5 or 6-day absence.  He was going to the far Midwest, over near the Mississippi, to hire an instructor who would come back with him, while he learned to fly his airplane back to Colorado.  But he cleared up my misconception: it was NOT AN AIRPLANE, it was a motor-glider. 

This episode exposed my prejudice.  If you can hire an instructor for 5 days to teach you to fly your airplane motor-glider across half the US, you have entered the Upper Class.  Not Upper Middle, Upper. 

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #102 on: December 08, 2019, 12:52:03 PM »
I don't think you can call someone living in a $1.8M house "middle class" with a straight face.

If San Francisco is really that expensive, maybe it's not worth living in San Francisco no matter how great people tell you the jobs are?

Lol 1.8mill could be a modest apartment in nyc.

If by "modest" you mean a gorgeous 3000-square foot townhouse in Brooklyn, then yeah. Totes middle class.
that particular place appears to be controversial on real estate forums. While lacking modern amenities like central air can be forgiven if its to maintain certain architectural elements, there is speculation that it was remodeled before the permits were issued.  Its not bad, but youd have to be willing to live in Brooklyn, which sounds kind of like a prison sentence.

Similar price fetches 1100 square feet in manhattan. https://streeteasy.com/building/the-colonnade/15a




MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #103 on: December 08, 2019, 01:01:16 PM »
The thing everyone keeps talking about for middle class is income. Median income is not necessarily middle class.  Class is defined by overall wealth. income is at best one of the factors for determining class.

Dollar Slice

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #104 on: December 08, 2019, 01:41:37 PM »
Its not bad, but youd have to be willing to live in Brooklyn, which sounds kind of like a prison sentence.

LOL. I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously after reading that. You're either completely out of touch or you've never been to NYC or both.

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #105 on: December 08, 2019, 02:42:37 PM »
Its not bad, but youd have to be willing to live in Brooklyn, which sounds kind of like a prison sentence.

LOL. I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously after reading that. You're either completely out of touch or you've never been to NYC or both.

From New York. Moved away this year.  Fabulous semi rural Pennsylvania. Breathing room.

Im also not a fan of manhattan. Brooklyn is awful with the exception of a few food festivals over the summer.

fredbear

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #106 on: December 08, 2019, 04:29:25 PM »

LOL. I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously after reading that. You're either completely out of touch or you've never been to NYC or both.

ANCOBTS - also not capable of being taken seriously.  I had a fling with a woman from NYC, and among other things, she provided the country mouse experience.  Taxis, subways, darling little cranny-restaurants, elegant dinners with literati (actually I arranged that), shows, mvsevms, parks, etc.  On my own while she worked I enjoyed the air in the air; coming down from about 6000 feet to 15 I could run 16 miles just to explore, so over days and days I ran roughly the bottom half of the island.

My conclusion: you can't live a human life in NYC. 

Dollar Slice

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #107 on: December 08, 2019, 05:11:08 PM »
Its not bad, but youd have to be willing to live in Brooklyn, which sounds kind of like a prison sentence.

LOL. I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously after reading that. You're either completely out of touch or you've never been to NYC or both.

From New York. Moved away this year.  Fabulous semi rural Pennsylvania. Breathing room.

Im also not a fan of manhattan. Brooklyn is awful with the exception of a few food festivals over the summer.

My apologies, I thought your comment was on topic and about the possibility of living in NYC in a middle class lifestyle (specifically with a $1.8m home as you mentioned). I didn't realize you were simply taking the discussion completely off topic and talking about how you don't like an urban lifestyle. That's your prerogative. I don't know why you would bring it up in this thread, but whatever. :-)

spartana

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #108 on: December 08, 2019, 11:30:24 PM »
The middle class is extremely wide the US.  If you are working for a living and paying bills every month from your earnings you are very likely middle class.  If you don't have a job and can't afford basics you are probably lower class.  If you fly in private jet aircraft and spend your time at country clubs, you may be upper class.
I don't agree with this definition. Lots of low income working class people, and even people in poverty, are working for a living and paying bills every month from their earnings. They just aren't living the same lifestyle as someone with a higher middle class income.

APowers

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #109 on: December 08, 2019, 11:41:05 PM »
I think a big part of the problem is that no one really seems to know what "rich" looks like.

*snip*

I get a lot of flak for maintaining that middle-class/"normal"="rich". \_(ツ)_/

Malcat

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #110 on: December 09, 2019, 04:00:35 AM »
I think a big part of the problem is that no one really seems to know what "rich" looks like.

*snip*

I get a lot of flak for maintaining that middle-class/"normal"="rich". \_(ツ)_/

Then maybe don't hang out with people who give you flak :P

zolotiyeruki

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #111 on: December 09, 2019, 04:53:39 AM »
And that life can range from costing mid 5 figures to several hundreds of thousands depending on location, what finishes are in the house, what kind of cars, what the public vs private school situation is, what activities the kids are into, etc, etc.
This is so true!  Our neighborhood is master planned, with different sections being built by different builders.  One section has homes similar in size to ours, but 30% more expensive.  Same number of bedrooms, same square footage, same number of rooms total, but just higher-end finishes and more expensive layouts (like bay windows).  Same schools, same access to roads/shopping/etc.

Arbitrage

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #112 on: December 09, 2019, 09:05:53 AM »
And that life can range from costing mid 5 figures to several hundreds of thousands depending on location, what finishes are in the house, what kind of cars, what the public vs private school situation is, what activities the kids are into, etc, etc.
This is so true!  Our neighborhood is master planned, with different sections being built by different builders.  One section has homes similar in size to ours, but 30% more expensive.  Same number of bedrooms, same square footage, same number of rooms total, but just higher-end finishes and more expensive layouts (like bay windows).  Same schools, same access to roads/shopping/etc.

Indeed.  We live near two families that we are very close friends with (HCOLA).  All of similar age/education, 2 kids each.  We all purchased houses that cost a similar amount of money several years ago, and for the most part, you wouldn't think we live lives that are very different.

Compared to couple 1, who have similar income to us, you'd take our expenses and add (gross estimates of monthly cost):
Frequent, expensive home renovations (+1500/month)
Maid service (+200/month)
Cable TV (+150/month)
Premium cell phone service with frequently purchased new devices (+200/month)
Groceries without an attempt to economize (+400/month)
Eating in restaurants a 'normal' amount (+400/month)
Moderately expensive wine (+200/month)
Newer cars - not luxury, driven until old, but nice enough (+600/month)
Driving everywhere, no bicycling (+200/month)
More frequent vacations involving flying the whole family, and general spending while on vacation (+700/month)
Several different classes/lessons for kids (+400/month)
Visits to the salon for hair coloring and such (+100/month)
Expensive gifts for each other (+400/month)

All told, the lifestyle that doesn't outwardly look that different from ours is costing $5500/month more, which is more than our entire non-mortgage spending.

Comparing to the third couple, who used to earn a similar amount but now earns 10 times what the other two couples earn, you'd add:
Financial advisor
Frequent travel, often first-class, often international
Full-time nanny (not live-in)
Luxury vehicles
...I'm sure other things I'm not aware of or don't pay much attention to

If you squint, even the third couple could be middle-class in behavior (though they will admit they are rich at this point).  None of us are dealing with private school bills, private jets, butlers, or whatever.  Which of us is middle class?  Some would even say that we are not middle class, on the basis of income.  Some might say that we all live upper middle-class lives.  Nonetheless, there's at least a factor of 3-4 separating us in non-mortgage spending.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 09:08:13 AM by Arbitrage »

DadJokes

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #113 on: December 09, 2019, 09:38:32 AM »
It's certainly going to vary widely by location. Per this source, the median household income in San Francisco is $87.7k. Let's pretend that the population is divided into 3 equally sized income classes.

The top third earn $125k and up.
The middle class earn $50k-$125k.
The bottom third earns $50k and below.

That doesn't seem too crazy, but the distribution is nuts. Nearly 20% earn $200k+. The large number earning those exorbitant incomes drive up the cost of living, which makes life for the bottom third (and even middle third) a lot more difficult than it would be in most other parts of the country.

In my area, the distribution looks like this:
Upper: $90k+
Middle: $45k-$90k
Lower: $45k and below

The lower tertile is pretty similar to SF, but because the income distribution is much more even (<5% earn $200k+), the upper tertile is much more reasonable, with the result being that the cost of living is much lower.

It's odd knowing that we are in the top third of family incomes as government employees. I assume that the data is skewed by unmarried people and single-income households, but maybe our incomes really are exceptionally high. Either of us individually would fall in bottom of the middle class or top of the lower class.

GreenIvy66

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #114 on: December 12, 2019, 02:23:34 PM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."


In addition to what others have mentioned, I think part of this phenomenon can be explained by how people (US residents, specifically), react to talking about class. No one typically likes stating that they are poor to others, and people typically don't like saying that they are financially "comfortable" to others, even if it is the truth. We have been socialized, in a way, to never outright discuss such matters. The idea of "class" has come to be viewed as information we are supposed to infer and guard for ourselves, through interacting with others.

The problem with that is people tend to associate around others who have similar circumstances as their own. Being surrounded by people like you makes it easy to think that you are "average", even if one's financial situation is not.

I know and can admit that I am part of the "upper middle class" because I've taken the time to look at the income data for my region, and know that my household is in the 85th+ percentile for income. Many people don't know, care to know, or search out that data. I care because I am a numbers nerd and the topic fascinates me.

Even if everyone knew that information, there would still be a social taboo associated with having free and open discussions with others about it.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #115 on: December 12, 2019, 04:05:14 PM »
We have been socialized, in a way, to never outright discuss such matters.
Which is how we know it's important. Nobody demands you be silent about trivialities.