05/29/2008 - When it comes to anxiety about family finances, an old truism applies: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Or, more precisely, on where your house or apartment sits.
Americans who think of themselves as being in the middle class have differing levels of comfort or distress about their financial situations, and some of that variance is related to where they live, according to a Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey.
Adults who call themselves middle class and who live in the nation's most expensive metropolitan areas have higher incomes and higher costs than do self-identified middle class adults who live in lower-cost regions. They also have more financial stresses. They're more likely to say they barely make enough to get by, and they're more likely to say they expect to have trouble paying their bills in the coming year. Moreover, middle class homeowners in high-cost areas are less likely to have paid off their homes than are middle class homeowners in less expensive areas.
These findings are based on responses to a nationwide Pew survey of 2,413 adults that was released in April, combined with an analysis of unpublished numbers from a federal research data base1 that measures living costs in U.S. metropolitan areas relative to the national average.
Read the complete findings The Middle Class Blues: Pricey Neighborhoods, High Stress on the Pew Research Center Web site.