Over on Twitter a conservative guy I sort of like (he's at least willing to try to base his conclusions on reliable evidence) claimed that sky-high rent and cost of living is not a problem, or at least not one that causes poverty and homelessness.
Because moving away from unaffordable cities is not an exotic expertise question. It’s a thing people do under ordinary circumstances, every day.— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) June 12, 2019
He says people can just move. Go to some place where the rent and cost of living are more affordable. Get a job there.
This take illustrates my main complaint about Conservatives in the top 5% of income levels. They have no idea what life is like for people who are making the average income in this country -- usually they have no idea what the average income even is.
They think their income -- $150,000, $250,000 -- is "average." They think they're middle-class.
In reality, almost half of Americans can't cover a $400 emergency expense. (This is what's happening this week in the delagar household -- Dr. Skull needs dental work, and it's $500. It might as well be five million. We don't have it, and we don't have any way to get it.)
But sure. "Just move!"
First off, you'd have to quit your job and get a new job. This assumes that well-paying jobs are readily available in places with cheap rent, and that a person in poverty can easily get one. Neither of those things are true. (Dr. Skull, who has a PhD, has been trying to find a job literally anywhere in America for the past three years. He is finally getting interviews, but they're for jobs that pay between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. And while the rents in these places are cheaper than the rents in say, San Francisco, they aren't that damn cheap.)
Also, quitting your job and "just moving" will mean at least a month without a salary, unless you're very lucky. Given most households in America live paycheck to paycheck, this is a non-starter.
Second, you'd need money for moving expenses, and the deposit and first month's rent on your new place. See "Not able to cover a $400 expense," above.
Third, "just moving" will take many Americans away from their social safety network -- the grandparents who will babysit their kids in an emergency, the dentist who will let them pay $50 a month instead of requiring the money upfront, the neighbor who knows how to fix cars cheap.
Finally, even assuming you can get past all of the above, moving to where the rents are cheaper is not so easy. Almost everywhere in the USA, rent has been increasing steadily, unlike people's incomes.
So yeah. A really bad take.
We're not even that poor -- we're solidly middle-class, according to the income quintile tables -- but I have been trying to move us to a cheaper place, literally in my own town, for the past year and a half.
I can find cheaper places (cheaper by $100 to $150/month); and there are several I would very much like to live in.
But first I need to save up at least $1000 in moving expenses.
See: Americans don't have $400 for an emergency, above.
Right now I'm just hoping the car (which has over 100,000 miles on it) doesn't break down, because if it does, we're fucked.