Do you struggle to make ends meet yet finds yourself unable to leave the place you call home? You're certainly not alone. Despite rising living costs and wages that often don't keep up with inflation, it turns out that many people are choosing—or are forced—to stay in homes or cities where the cost of living far outweighs their earnings. Perhaps counter-intuitively, multiple studies have found that reasons for this can be quite varied and complex, whether through love for a certain lifestyle, lack of opportunity elsewhere, or simply that moving is so expensive.
In this blog post, we'll explore 15 common reasons why people choose—willingly or otherwise—to remain in expensive situations.
1. Higher Paying Jobs
One user shared, “Usually, unaffordable places have the highest-paying jobs.”
Another Redditor added, “Pretty worthless if the costs exceed the ‘high' wages. I have several friends that live in Denver that make more than me, but I get to live like a king and go on really nice vacations due to being in a much more affordable midsize city.”
One user shared, “I'll chime in and say it's not just the money. But the opportunities to work on higher profile, higher budget projects. You can get the experience you just can't get in rural areas.
“Second, small towns have way fewer jobs. Sure, you've got a job, but how many positions are available for your role in a small town vs. a big city? When I was first hunting for roles as an architect out of uni, I searched in the town I grew up in and the cities. I might get one job I can apply to every six months in my hometown, whereas the city has new jobs every week.
“Edit: To clarify, I'm from the UK, so my experience may be different. We have one major city—London. The others are smaller regional capitals; it's a smaller regional capital I'm referring to. When I searched for jobs, I searched my home town, I searched London, and I searched the city my university was in. I ended up taking a job in my university city after a couple of years of working retail and job hunting. London was out of reach financially for me and still is.”
2. Overlapping Apartment Payments
One user shared, “Because if they can't afford to stay there, how on earth can they afford to move? Moving isn't just ‘Oh, I'm going over here now.' It's finding a job, finding affordable housing, then saving up for all the deposits, first, last and security. If someone is that broke, they can't just leave.”
Another user replied, “It's going to take me at least $6k to move out of my current location, minimum, but the whole process would be closer to $8k-$10k. I can barely afford my PG&E right now, so moving is kind of out of the question until I can figure out how to save up enough or catch a lucky break…”
One commenter replied, “Not to mention any and all debt. That's the #1 reason: How on Earth can I move somewhere else, convince a landlord to move my family without a solid job, AND afford to keep paying outrageous bills.”
3. Housing Costs Have Gone Up
“I've been priced out of housing in the city I was born/lived in for 44 years. My kids go to school here, my job of 20+ years is here that I don't hate (and mainly have skills only applicable to), and my wife's job is here. My sister, dad, her parents, many siblings, nieces, and nephews live here.
“The only real option is to move 1+ hours away, but then does that offset the cost of gas, the school situation with kids, and the proximity of relatives that can very occasionally help with the cost of childcare/meals/emergencies, etc. Edit: priced out bc housing has gone up 100-125% of what it was most of my life in the past 5-7 years,” commented one user.
Another user replied, “This price-out thing is happening here in my hometown, too. I heard somebody refer to us as the brokels the other day.”
One commenter said, “It's happening where I live, and it's a tiny town of about 4500. The older generation is literally raising the housing prices here to keep people experiencing poverty out. I'm sorry, but who wants to pay $1200 a month for a 3-bedroom shack that was built 200 years ago and hasn't been updated since 1955?”
“Wow, that's crazy!! That same shack would cost $2,000 a month for a mortgage in my city! Seriously though, $1200 for three bedrooms would be cheap here,” another user replied.
4. Connection to Family and Friends
One user shared, “Connection to family and friends. Resistance to being ‘exiled.' Sunk cost fallacy… sticking with what you know and are familiar with.”
Another user added, “Family and friends is a really important part. If you turn it around, what amount of money would it take for you only ever to see your parents and siblings at Thanksgiving?”
One Redditor replied, “It's not just about seeing Family at Thanksgiving. Family and friends are a safety net. They can babysit when you get called into work. They can let you crash on their couch if you're desperate. Give you a ride to work when your car breaks down, and you can't afford to fix it immediately. Invite you over for dinner and send you home with leftovers when you have no food in the house.
“Having friends and Family nearby can mean the difference between hardships that feel bad, but you can get past and hardships that can lead to losing your job, home, kids, health, everything.”
5. Moving Trucks and Time off Are Costly
One user replied, “Cause moving is expensive too. And if you are barely getting by, you can't afford a moving truck or gas or a couple of months off to transition to a new city.”
Another Redditor added, “My sister and her husband are considering moving to a far more expensive city because of work. The small town they live in just has no opportunities for him to find work, and places like Microsoft have been trying to get him for years.”
One commenter replied, “I work in property management and always see this. I hate when I meet people who have to move where I am for work (I'm in the Permian Basin oil/gas industry, which attracts a lot of people to our area). When I go over rent prices, move-in fees, and deposits. I just see some people deflate trying to figure out how to make it work. Most families have to split up, and the dad moves down and then moves the rest of the Family later on. If it's a young couple, they sit there with pen and paper, trying to plan everything out. I hate it..”
6. Can't Afford to Get Out
One Redditor said, “They never managed to save enough to move because they already can't afford to live. When you're barely making rent by skipping meals, how exactly are you supposed to come up with a few grand extra to cover moving expenses?”
7. Commuting Is Even More Expensive
One user commented, “Because the cost of commuting would be even worse.”
Another user added, “THIS. I somehow survived in small-town Wisconsin for five years without a car. I have no clue how I did it, but I am NOT doing it again.”
8. It's Hard to Get Established
One Redditor said, “We moved from an HCOL to an LCOL area a year ago. It was hard, and we miss our friends. And we are older, so it is harder to become re-established. Our 21 yo son came with us. He misses his friends, too. We are actively doing things to make friends here. Now, on to the point that it is expensive to move. YES! How we did that was to get rid of as much stuff as possible. I would highly recommend moving. It does take a lot of planning, and it is mind-numbing at first, but after a year, we are so happy that we did it.”
One user commented, “Were you able to move somewhere with similar climate/weather? I'm considering selling all of my furniture to attempt to afford a move sooner, but I'd have to leave CA, and I think I'd miss the moderate weather of my current location…”
9. This Is Home
“Aside from moving to be expensive. I was born and raised here. My Family is here. My friends are here. I have deep roots in this city that was cheap to live in, not even 15 years ago. I'd rather be poor here than well off and alone in a worse location,” one user shared.
10 Cities Are Convenient
One user shared, “That's why I like living in small cities. Get the amenities of a city with a low cost of living. I pay $900 a month for an 800 sq ft apartment in one of the safest cities in my state. In a 15-minute walk, I can be at two grocery stores, three pharmacies, haircuts, plenty of bars and restaurants, numerous parks, bike paths, and hiking areas. Besides my job, which is a 20-minute drive, I can walk to 90% of the things I need. You get the best of everything.”
Another user added, “The majority of small cities are not like that; in most cities, you need a car just to get to the nearest 7-11.”
11. You Love It There
“Well, in my family's case, we really like this place. It's a coastal town with really nice weather and beaches. I'd rather struggle to live here than settle somewhere cheaper and without the ocean right there,” one Redditor shared.
12. Rising Prices Trapped the Locals
One user added, “It was affordable, then it wasn't, and people got stuck. That's basically it.”
13. Small Towns Can Be Judgmental
One Redditor posted, “If you're a minority, such as an openly gay man or lesbian woman… Moving to a small town is actually scary if you want to be yourself. People like to think in America, we have freedom, but not in small towns. Some would rather be broke in a big city where they can be themselves than to have to go back in the closet.”
However, one commenter replied, “I'm straight and cis-gendered, and even I feel like I can't be myself in the small-town area where I grew up without constant judgment and stares.”
14. You'd Rather Stay Somewhere You Enjoy
One user shared, “I'd rather be broke in a place I enjoy than a millionaire in Pennsyltucky or anywhere similar.”
Another user added, “Yeah. I'd rather be a millionaire in Pennsyltucky.”
15. Moving Is Harder Than Staying
“‘If you don't like having cancer, why don't you just get rid of it?' That's how silly the question sounds to ANYONE that understands real life.
“Moving is really expensive. Financially, mentally, physically, emotionally. Oh, and the people who can't afford to move have low-paying jobs; I'm guessing that job offers a poor PTO package. To handle/coordinate a move with all the necessary parties.
“Even outside of that, there's family and friends. And even outside of that, there is a reason why cities attract people. Job opportunities, promising careers, stuff to do, etc. Everyone knows Manhattan costs more than Bumf-ck, Nebraska.
‘Just move, then!' is anti-union, anti-human behaviour from either rich people or mean people. Now, the rich people will never care. Because if someone leaves a big city, ten people will be willing to move in. It's the a-h- thing that can be fixed,” one user posted.
Do you agree with the things listed above? Share your thoughts and comment down below!
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