On paper, most in Squamish are doing pretty darn good, comparatively — the median household income in Squamish is about $90,000 per year, according to the 2016 census.
But those figures don’t tell the whole story of how we are doing.
Despite a decent income, some of us are suffering from what is called Captain Samuel Vimes ‘boots theory' of socioeconomic unfairness.
This theory comes from a conversation in Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms novel.
The idea is that those with money can spend less of it.
It goes like this: a good pair of boots cost about $300 and will last many years but if you don’t have that amount of money to put out, you buy a $70 pair of boots that lasts a season or so, and then have to rebuy boots over and over. A person with more capital can thus save money in the end.
Another example is a person with cash in the bank can buy a washing machine and dryer for $2,000-ish while a person who doesn’t have that to put out pays $40 or more per week going to the laundromat.
This is repeated over and over with everything from coats to cars.
Some of us use credit cards to buy the better things — or to just pay for groceries and gas to get to our city jobs — and are charged an interest rate of about 20%.
And so we are then paying hundreds or even thousands more in interest than it all would have cost could we have paid cash for the things.
This inability to do what is better in the long run, keeps less well-heeled locals broke.
In Squamish, so many of us are rent or mortgage broke that we don’t have the cash flow to buy well for our futures.
Of course, some do, and goody for them.
The hope for those of us who are cash broke from our mortgage today is that one day, when our homes are paid off, or we don’t have to shell out for daycare, we will be able to cash out or catch up.
For those of us who are rent poor, the trade-off is living somewhere we love.
We don’t talk a lot about money in our culture.
Not having it is considered a failure.
But our collective pretending we are all flush keeps us feeling bad about our situations or prevents those of us who are doing well from understanding why our neighbour or workmate may not be able to buy “smarter.”
The financial trade-offs to live here are worth it most of the time, but sometimes it just feels really heavy and hard.