Being "Middle Class" in Palo Alto


But income alone does not determine who is in the middle, Palo Alto residents say. Educational attainment, culture and spending choices, for example, also factor into the self-identification.

One respondent with a household income between $250,000 and $300,000 for a family of four wrote that his family is upper-middle class because they don’t spend more than $500 in a single purchase — except for four weeks of travel each year, housing, their children’s activities and $1,700 each month on farmers market food.

Meanwhile, another person making between $35,000 to $50,000 yearly for a family of two wrote she is also upper-middle class because of her credentials as a former professor with advanced degrees. A third said their four-person household identified as working class while making $150,000 to $200,000 because there was “not room to have any extras.”


In 1976, Karen Price moved to Palo Alto on her 24th birthday to pursue “the dream of California.” A Chicago native, she first rented a studio apartment on a minimum-wage salary at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park before becoming a “Rolfer,” a type of bodywork therapist. She never bought a home; by the late 1980s when Price was ready to invest, her mother thought that $200,000 was too much and refused to lend her money.

A $5M mistake, and counting.


Flight attendant Kathryn Soler said that while some of her “tech friends” would think a $400 haircut is a steal, her own range is around $75. She wouldn’t think to ask them about bargains for groceries or dry cleaning — they’re on a budget, too, but in their own bracket.

And our multi-millionaire friend @sfdragonboy is having $5 haircuts… :smile: How much hair do you have dragon boy? Don’t tell us you are bald.


women haircut is expensive. man haircut, 5-10$ gets you a long way.


That’s a lot of exceptions.


4 weeks of travel - i take three to my home country.
no idea about children, but they look very expensive from a distance.


Don’t knock the $5 buck place until you’ve tried it. Young and old men with less hair than me get their cuts here, and the ladies do a good if not great job. It is another one of my good deals in this maddening, $20/slice avocado toast world…


I spend $0 on haircuts. My wife does them.


A few points that’s important to me:

High home prices create “two realities” that in turn lead to distinct lifestyles and sets of concerns, according to some residents. Lancefield, of Duveneck, said that she sees a division between older homeowners and younger, wealthier families, who are in much more stressful economic situations. Another resident described the two categories in Palo Alto as: “old and rich.”

Lancefield described a typical younger family as having two jobs, a backbreaking mortgage, three kids and significant taxes. Between work, activities and payments, many people in Palo Alto just don’t have the bandwidth to develop neighborhood relationships, she said.

When Roberts’ now-adult daughter was in middle school, she lamented that her friends were able to go on hundred-dollar sprees at Stanford Shopping Center and said she “really wished” that she could do the same.


There’s a lot of stress on working families in PA that’s my impression reading the article. People are more aware of how much they make and how much other people make.


Um… ok… I cut my own nails and save money by not going to the nail salon… :rofl:


I think that’s a great way to motivate those working families to climb up the social ladder. A community with snobs only is boring.