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Daily Archives: August 27, 2013

Lake Woebegone

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If you remember the news from Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average, you have to chuckle at the latest list of the “wealthiest zip codes in the Baltimore area”.

Patch Report from the Baltimore Business Journal shows nine of the ten in Howard County. But, what does it really mean? All this data. Statistics. Lies, damn lies and statistics, as they say.

We live at the boundary of number one and three in their list. I still have to stop and remember that median and mean are two very different measures.

So, number one is Dayton, 21036 with a median household income of $166,007, an average net worth of $1.85 million, and median home value of $732,222.

Number three, which is Glenelg, 21737 has a median income of $159,570, average net worth of $1.86 million, and median home value of $720,833.

Number two on their list is West Friendship, number four is Cooksville and number five is Fulton (including Maple Lawn). All of them surround us. Lower down the list were Glenwood, Highland, Clarksville and Ellicott City.

OK, I look at these lists and think of the Lake Woebegone quote, and say to myself, wow, we are so below average in our house.

And, then I remember the McMansions, which drive that median number way up. There are dozens of McMansions being built here. Where it used to be a three acre minimum for building, and land prices used to be cheap, now they are cramming huge houses on an acre. I can’t figure how they get wells, septic fields, driveways, massive homes and roads all squished together without interference in the newer neighborhoods. These homes start at $700,000 and keep going into the stratosphere. They line Triadelphia, and Ten Oaks, and Howard Roads.

march drive 041

We don’t feel like this is the wealthiest part of the world. My neighbors are teachers, firemen, bus drivers, people who bought here decades ago when land was cheap, relative to Columbia. But then, we don’t live in those new expensive developments either.

Every time I see references to the “rich rural west”, I cringe. It’s only the influx of the mansions that is driving these numbers higher. Back 15 or so years ago, there were less than 1000 homes in the entire zip code of Dayton. Still some small farms, too.

brighton dam and glenelg 067

Hundreds of new homes have been built during the boom years, and even now three new developments are adding more and more large homes on relatively small lots.

It is weird to see the changes that have occurred just in the nine years we have been here.

Oh well, being below average has its benefits. Less taxes, but still the “distinction” of living in one of the richest zip codes out there.

Here’s to those “damn lies”.