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OK, is $300,000 middle class in Greater Boston?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 23, 2013 07:19 AM

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Before you scoff, take a look at what this Boston-area attorney has to say.

Astrom makes $310,000 a year and argues he too is middle class.

He lives in a $250,000 condo and drives a Honda.

While his mortgage payments are hardly negligible, the real back breaker is $2,800 a month in day-care costs for twin, four-year-old boys. It may sound high, but it's in the ballpark for the Boston area.

That's enough for a good-sized mortgage. In fact, I'd argue day care is one of the major hidden cost traps for Boston-area homeowners, who too often don't factor this in before buying, especially if they are planning to have children, but have yet to cross the threshold into parenthood.

"So the bottom line is this: I want to have things that I can comfortably afford without an undue debt burden and at today's prices those are only middle class things," astrom writes. "Therefore, I am not rich by definition. I am middle class."

Read and hear him out - he put himself out there so show some respect. Still, let's hear your opinion as well. Is $300,000, given the high cost of housing, day care, and everything else in the Boston area, still within that middle class range?

Or does astrom simply fail to realize how good he has it compared to the average, cash-strapped Massachusetts homeowner.

Here's astrom's full comment:

I made $310,000 last year, but I consider myself a middle class person. I own a $250K condo and drive a Honda. I will not buy anything luxury that has a monthly payment atached to it. The reasons are as follows.


First, my income along with the healthcare can disappear with little notice because it all comes from my employer. I have zero job secuirty. I learned my lesson during the financial crisis when I suddenly had to leave my law firm job for a federal court law clerk position with $85K a year income.

Second, my wife and I have 4 year-old twins. Our day care cost is $2,800 a month.

Third, fully 30% of the paycheck goes to the Fed plus whatever the state wants.
Fourth, while I can technically afford a bigger home in a nicer town and to lease a couple of German cars, if I did that I would not be able to afford other things that I love to do, such as traveling to Europe and eating out.

Fifth, we have no debt (other than mortgage and my school loans).

Sixth, my wife has been a stay-at-home mom for the last 4.5 years.

So the bottom line is this. I want to have things that I can comfortably afford without an undue debt burden and at today's prices those are only middle class things. Therefore, I am not rich by definition. I am middle class.



This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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