The Millionaire Next Door

Superior Neighborhood = Superior People?

In a recent email, Deb shared her thoughts about buying a home. 

I just finished reading Stop Acting Rich, and it reminded me of something. . .  .  My . . .husband and I . . . bought a house. . . . The housing market was down . . . and we were looking in a blue-collar area because he needed to move into [a specific] school district . . . There was a tiny development of new construction, and we got a new four-bedroom colonial . . . .  . . . later, a coworker of mine started to look for a house with her fiance. She showed up for work in tears because they couldn’t afford a nice house. “I want a house like yours,” she said, but was only looking in upper class neighborhoods. I told her that she could afford something better if she would buy in a blue-collar neighborhood like mine. She was so offended by this prospect that she refused to speak to me for a week!

Perhaps Deb’s friend would have a more realistic perception of the so-called “upper class” neighborhood if she had heard Bruce Springsteen’s recent interview on PBS.

Bruce Springsteen, the rock superstar, is equally great as a songwriter.  To be a great writer, one must have a gift to perceive and explain the pulse and temperament of his/her audience.  I believe that part of Springsteen’s talent is a function of his upward movement through four social classes.  In the interview, Mr. Springsteen discussed his working class background.  Paraphrasing the interviewer, “Well, today, with your success you have a lot more nice neighbors than you had when you were growing up on the poor side of town.”  Mr. Springsteen said that he had found some jerks in every neighborhood he had lived in from the bluest of the blue collar to the those filled with expensive mansions. 

Ms. H, the #1 seller of mansions in a major metropolitan area, agrees with Mr. Springsteen’s observations.   She has found that some sellers are motivated because their next door neighbor is anything but neighborly, i.e. noisy, disrespectful of property lines, neglectful of property and home, etc. 

It is one of the great affluent “myths” that people who live in expensive neighborhoods are superior to those who don’t. Just as one example, as stated in Stop Acting Rich, there are nearly three times more millionaire households living in homes valued at less than $300,000 [1,138,000]  than there are living in homes valued at $1M or more [403,211].

4 thoughts on “Superior Neighborhood = Superior People?”

  1. Excellent article. Jerks are found in all types of neighborhoods. In fact, I’ve found that most people who live in pricier homes (and drive very expensive luxury cars) are “proud” to the point that I believe they miss the forest for the trees. “Things” can be nice and enjoyed, but they have their place, and that’s ONLY here on Earth.

  2. Are there any statistics on how many millionaire next door types live in houses valued below $100,000? In some areas of the country, $100,000 still buys a nice 3BD 2BA home.

  3. Great article… One of my clients is living in Samana, Caribbean. A normal home with oceanview and a pool. Normal price range. 6 years ago.

    Just recently he told me that, when he bought the house, he sold his shares from his company… and a huge mansion in Belgium… The guy is loaded. Very nice guy, living his life, drives around most of the time on a $100 used scooter !!!

    He was looking for a normal life and found it here in Samana.

  4. I’ve read all of Dr. Stanley’s books, most recently Stop Acting Rich, and think highly of them because they provide supporting evidence for his arguments, and refute popular opinion (AKA the arguments opposing his) with evidence as well. Just noticed the blogs he links to (on the Blogroll on this website), and I am not surprised to find that three of them are ones I follow too.

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