Our Homes Are Bad Status

Max Rottersman
6 min readMay 1
My calculations based on census, FED data, etc.

Our landlord told us we have to move. They were very nice about it.

Currently we pay $2,150 but would have to pay $3,000 to stay (in fairness they’d do renovations first).

Part of me wants to go live in the cheapest place we can find and wait until prices fall. The other half accepts that we’ll have to pay whatever it costs to remain in Cambridge. My broker-friend doesn’t believe prices will come down. I told my neighbor, who owns his place, and he also struggled to explain to me, um, reality.

I didn’t tell them that every month of rising housing costs brings us closer to civil war — or gangs outside Cambridge roaming the streets after dark.

Doom and gloom aside, most likely we’ll both be right. At this point, prices are 20% elevated against wages. I expect prices to fall and wages to increase, as they did between 2000 and 2012.

When you’re out in the bitter cold as I am, you wonder. What is different today? I have a new theory, which, okay, is a bit out there.

Pre-2000 people sought status by working in a professional career; wearing expensive clothes, watches, cameras, boats, motorcycles; living in a select neighborhood and driving a new car. They also had many means of socializing. Movies, bars, vacations, sports, etc. There were many avenues for status and most of them were enjoyed face to face.

Today, all roads to status end with owning a house (any house, anywhere) and driving an EV (any EV).

We’ve moved from an in-person social culture, where it was easy to display wealth or privilege, in a wide variety of ways, to virtual world where we spend most of our time alone. These days, we’re alone in our status.

No one on the Internet knows you are poor or rich. That sounds good in theory. In practice, I’m not so sure. Psychologists have long pointed out that humans do better with physical proximity and contact.

If it’s true that society is healthier with more avenues to status, how can people transition back if all their money is sunk into houses and cars?

Today First Republic Bank was taken over by JPMorgan. It’s the 4th large bank to leave the scene. Banks fail when large amounts of money are pulled out because depositors are…