Some Palo Alto residents with six-figure incomes identify themselves as middle class

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- In one of the Bay Area's most affluent cities, it's no longer uncommon for Palo Alto residents with six-figure incomes to identify as being members of the middle class.

Yes, really. But before you gasp, and say, "no way," many believe it makes absolute sense.

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The Palo Alto Weekly recently conducted a short survey asking people to define their social class. Out of more than 250 responses, 75 identified themselves as upper middle class. Their self-reported incomes ranged from $50,000 to $400,000 or more.

One person wrote: "We do not have to worry about staying afloat financially, so we can put our money toward health, education and comfort."

But, here's where it gets a little more interesting: 81 people with self-reported incomes ranging from $10,000 to $399,999 considered themselves as middle class.

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Among the comments in this category: "Here in Palo Alto, I feel a bit below the norm, but still middle class. I have two degrees from Stanford, but neighbors on either side of me have PhDs. Hence the slight feeling of inferiority."

So, who ended up identifying as lower middle class or working class? 17 people with self-reported incomes ranging from $35,000 to $349,999.

One of the respondents said: "We are not homeless or go hungry at night, but we sometimes do live paycheck to paycheck and have to budget if we make unexpected purchases."

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The Palo Alto Weekly says 89 people declined to select from one of the classes, or ended up writing their own answers, including "former middle class" and "survivors in an unjust capitalist society."

So, how would you define your social class? It's an interesting question that's sure to draw a range of answers. But, as the cost of living continues to rise throughout the region, it's one worth considering, especially as more residents ponder whether or not living in Silicon Valley is worth it.

Economists say the lack of affordable housing could eventually drive more people out.

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