Faced with a more affordable lifestyle, Beverly Hills couple flees to Oregon

CNN has the story of a couple from Beverly Hills who moved to Oregon to work on a family farm and live out of a trailer after the husband lost his $100,000 per year job managing life insurance portfolios. Seems like a cute, Green Acres-ish tale of a couple who merely decided to be practical. But no:

With meager savings, Bird and Wright knew they couldn’t maintain their costly Los Angeles lifestyle in an area where, they say, image is everything. Even if they had stayed in Beverly Hills, they would have needed to move into a smaller apartment and rely on Bird’s modest salary as a financial manager.

Call me crazy, but isn’t this the real problem? People living outside of their means, thinking that image is everything, leasing overpriced cars and renting subpar apartments just so they can boast about the zipcode?

Heck, if I had a $100,000 salary for a couple years I could live decently on much lower salary for a number of years… assuming I stayed with an affordable used car, and lived in any number of neighborhoods outside of Beverly Hills.

Then again, maybe the fact that I’m not concerned about image is why I’ve never had a $100,000 a year job. What would Ayn Rand do?

12 thoughts on “Faced with a more affordable lifestyle, Beverly Hills couple flees to Oregon”

  1. I think you have hit upon the problem. “Modest salary as a financial manager,” as if. Too many Americans individually, as well as our government, for years lived way beyond their means. One enabled the other, and companies lobbied to have the rules on them relaxed or repealed, giving them freedom to induce people to buy homes and other things they couldn’t afford. People watched too many tv commercials telling them to buy more more more. I’m hoping that one positive aspect of the current economic crisis is that people will economize. Parts of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills may be among the last holdouts, given the unfortunate image consciousness that is somewhat ingrained here. But really, do you need the Maybach when an S Class Mercedes will do? I hope that even here, conspicious consumption will become uncool and practicality will become cool. Maybe the large number of Priuses is a sign that this can happen.

  2. While I don’t like the consumer addiction that Americans are into I also don’t like this, “well it’s better this way” mantra the mainstream media is vomiting right now. This isn’t better. 13 months of job losses isn’t a positive thing that will make us stronger.

    The Beverly Hills couple, possibly they were living above their means, but there are plenty of people in LA (and across the country) who are doing bad who were living well within their means. I saw this story on TV about this older couple who seemed to living a pretty modest lifestyle. A normal house, a normal car in a normal neighborhood. They now have to live in the storage room of their office and collect cans to make ends meet. And this show was trying to make it seem like it was good that they had to shower at the Y and live in a storage room, because the husband of the couple in his 50s had lost 30 pounds owing to lack of food. And they tried to put this positive spin on it like wow thrifty is good and I don’t think so. Most people aren’t going from Mercedes to a fun farm in Oregon, most people don’t have parents to give them a house when things go bad. This kind of reporting from CNN is irresponsible and is one of the main reasons the economy is in the state that it is in right now.

    I’m not going to just jump on the it was “us” bandwagon, it is always “us” and our fault and no it wasn’t us. This and all of the times before it was very clear that it was them who did this. The very rich who were playing games and brought us in to see how much they could squeeze from us just so they could add a billion dollars to their 10 billion dollars,.



  3. What I’m waiting for right now is an editorial on how if we just believed in god more or were more moral or had family values that we wouldn’t be in La Crisis.

  4. I’m with you David, a large part of our problem is people living outside their means, finding ways to continually do so then it all came crashing in. Browne alludes to only a little bit of the problem. Where I sat in the cube-world its been snowballing for years, always finding a way to get more out of people so they could get rid of more of the payroll, all at the expense of those who could survive that toxic environment of the disposable employee. At some point it all crashes and burns, and we are seeing it on a global scale now.

    Living within ones means, working to stay there is all we need to get back into balance.

  5. I agree with David as well.. although the article doesn’t jibe completely with the iReport, which says the couple lived in West Hollywood. She works as a financial manager of some sort, and I’ll guess conservatively she made $35k.. with his “over $100k salary,” their combined income would be around $140k.
    From Beverly Hills to Hillbillies

  6. This and all of the times before it was very clear that it was them who did this.

    Browne, if I left a cookie jar on the kitchen table and my child, over the course of an afternoon, gorged herself on cookies to the point that she got a nasty tummy ache, who’s to blame? Me or the greedy sweet-toothed child? There is no them, there is only us. No one forced subprime mortgages on the public just as no one forced that child’s hand into the cookie jar. No one was forced into accepting credit cards so we could purchase items we realy couldn’t afford and no keen economist that I know of ever said, “What? You only have $10 million in life savings? Good God, man, you’re in trouble, you’d best invest that in the stock market for future security.”

    Us, not them.

  7. The irony is that she’s a ‘financial manager’ with “meager savings”.

    What kind of a manager is she? She couldn’t save any of her husband’s $100K?????? I bet their former clients are glad they’re living on a farm now!

  8. Wow, so you believe that the very rich had nothing to do with the economic melt down right now that it was that we weren’t saving for a rainy day. Are you aware that there are not jobs being created and there are people who have not had a job for months. Even if you did have money in savings in six months it would be gone and if you are older like the husband in this couple and making a better salary good luck. If you are older and was working in a blue collar job, good luck. I mean really…CNN is the authority now. Possibly you guys should check out the Economist to find out what’s been going on in your country, but the words are kind of big and there are no pictures, so keep watching CNN and Fox too!!!

  9. Angelcityart: Great point!

    I agree with Browne in questioning CNN’s judgement that this couple’s story is somehow reflective of the financial collapse. Which is what I was mocking in the first place.

    But as Rodger points out, the lack of responsibility is the problem. There are, indeed, plenty of innocent victims out there – working stiffs who work pay check to pay check who’ve been laid off.

    But among them I don’t count those who secured a loan from “predatory lenders.” I don’t doubt that the lenders are scumbags, but anyone who took on a loan to buy a new house when the costs were skyrocketing was not a “victim” to anything but their own bad judgement.

  10. I think the real problem is a combination of so many things that can’t simply be chalked up to the fault of the idiots who decided to take out an interest-only 50 year mortgage on a $1.25 million house with a $70k combined salary OR to the fault of the institutions that acted as enablers to walk them through what used to be a comprehensive, credit-checked process. It’s the lack of both sides’ responsibility that was the problem, resulting in a big bankruptcy party for both sides, and accelerating the downfall of the economy. Creating artificial distinctions between us and them helps no one.

    And I’m with browne on the general MSM’s skewed perspective on the recession. It’s maddening that the media keeps finding it f’ing novel to feature stories on the downfall of the once rich – and not in a scheudenfraude kind of way.

  11. What would Ayn Rand do? Probably what Bobby Jindal did a few nights ago. Rail against government and say that the marketplace (meaning unregulated corporations) will take care of all our problems.

  12. You know… making money and being concerned with image are actually mutually exclusive. I’ve found that hard work does the trickm but your result might vary.

    Ayn Rand wouldn’t do anything but try her best to completely ignore the whiny soul suckers so she could take care of her own business.

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