If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now: Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie by Christopher Ingraham


I was hoping this would be a fun book to read during day 18 of quarantine but what a disappointment.

Being from the area where he moved from gave me some insight other readers might not have. I don’t buy any of the reasons why he felt like he had to move. It was a long commute but he discounted logical places to move to reduce the commute for no clear reason. He felt like a ~1000 sq ft house was too small for two adults and two toddlers. Millions make it work but okay. He refused to rent in DC where his job was or anywhere in the DC area.

He could have bought a single-family house (with a sizable yard!) in Baltimore City for around $150,000 ($100k less than houses in his current neighborhood) and been much much closer the train line but insisted it was an impossibility. He made weird comments about Odenton and Laurel MD being “undesirable” and having to live in “cramped factory-style housing” when they are actually popular, diverse suburbs made up of relatively affordable single-family homes with eas(ier) commutes to DC. For a data guy he sure didn’t seem to be able to do any research.
I was left with the impression that he really was looking for an excuse to move to a 90%+ white town and found one in this small town in Minnesota. I don’t think it was a conscious decision on his part exactly but it was pretty clear that was a major motivating factor. It really put me off the whole book. I feel like it was supposed to be a book about busting regional stereotypes but it’s full of them about the Baltimore metro area. He left a tiny historic district popular for tourists in a wealthy area and makes it seem like it was some dirty cramped city out of Dickens.

He touches on his new town’s lack of diversity and racism lightly (by mentioning his Black friends from Maryland–eek) but quickly moves on to talk about the areas many cultural events—mostly Nordic and French festivals.

He finally reaches the conclusion that he can fit into his new community and that they aren’t that different than him. No kidding! He moved away from a diverse metro area to one that was just like him-white, middle-aged and middle income. Why wouldn’t he fit in? I feel like he’d really have to try hard not to. The whole premise of this book fell flat for me and his incredible lack of awareness was stunning.

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