But here’s the rub: I am able to afford this faux middle-class life on $40,000 a year because I live around poverty. The median income in the city of Cleveland is $26,179; the median income in Shaker Heights, where I live, is $75,177. Nearly a quarter of Clevelanders live below the poverty line, and only about 15 percent have a B.A. And yet, true to form, there are a few small areas within the city limits that I can no longer afford to live, as developers have rushed in to build overpriced housing for a tiny segment of educated professionals.

So it turns out you can get richer simply by moving to where people are poorer. That is horrifying. And some might find it insensitive to praise the virtues of living a middle-class life in a region beset by deindustrialization and poverty, where the low cost of living is enabled, in part, by the difficulty so many have in scratching out a living.

Opting Out of Coastal Madness to Live a Low-Overhead Life


  • location: Lanesboro
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