The Cost of Living Large
We made a trip back to Kansas City last weekend to attend a wedding and see my mother in law for Mother’s Day.
Our visit made me realize that it just isn’t the lack of jobs that is causing America’s rural towns to die slow and many times for it’s citizens, painful deaths.
When we moved here, people would say to us, “The cost of living must be so much less.”
We knew it wasn’t on an anecdotal scale, we knew gasoline was higher even when prices were lower, as it takes twice as long to drive anywhere.
But we didn’t realize how far capitalist competition helps to drive prices down in a larger city.
Take for example, sushi. I love it. In the city, I ate at my local sushi bar at least 2-3 times a week. It was 5 minutes from my house and the interaction with the chefs, wait staff and other customers helped relieve the isolation I sometimes feel working from home, as well as the stress of caring for my dying mother.
After living here for so long, I thought maybe I could just afford to eat there that many times a week because our wages were higher then.
Turns out the bill was also about half of what I pay here. I can’t get out of our local sushi bar here in Arkansas and get full for less than $40 (I eat there maybe once a month due to location and price). In the city, my bill, after I met Living Large community member Kathleen Winn, and ate quite a bit, was $23.10.
I was so shocked, I insisted I must have gotten the wrong bill!
That evening, while discussing our pets and their health, my sister in law reminded me of how outrageously expensive veterinarians are here.
Her cat recently underwent extensive blood work and surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, which required a night’s stay at the vet hospital and received medication. Her bill was $237.
Comparatively, our Beagle/Doxie mix underwent extensive blood work to determine the cause of reoccurring eye infections, received a bottle of thyroid pills, some eye drops and had a follow up visit for 5 minutes with the vet for $325.
The next day we went to the grocery store to purchase several local items we cannot find here such as sugar free pancake syrup and fresh Mexican corn and flour tortillas. About 20 percent cheaper per item than Arkansas.
Meanwhile, wages are about 40 percent lower in this region than in the city and while we feel very fortunate to have health insurance at all through Dale’s job as most jobs here do not offer it, the healthcare coverage is more expensive and no where near the coverage we had through his job in the city.
When people lament the dying of America’s rural areas, they usually blame the lack of opportunity and jobs.
Now, we’re sure that it’s also the higher cost of living due to lack of competition in the marketplace.
It’s a good thing we’ve eliminated the need for buying “stuff,” as the discretionary income we had in the city has been whittled away for the cost of living here.
We’re still Living Large, just dispensing our money differently.
Have you had such experiences in rural areas? Are you thinking of moving to a rural area and are you taking the overall cost of living into consideration?