Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Where did the author have the hardest time finding a safe place to live?

Whar were some challenges the author (and other low wage workers) face when finding a place to live?

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Ehrenreich finds Maine an expensive place to live. Despite the plenitude of ads and “job fairs”, and what seems like a paucity of potential laborers, the average rate for low-wage jobs is still $6-$7 an hour.

The other catch-22 concerns finding a home. To find a home you often need to show signs of stable employment, while to find employment you need an address. Not knowing anybody, bereft of all markers and bearings, with only limited items in her suitcase (some of which, like her books, she realizes are close to useless), Ehrenreich dives in.

She finds a room at Motel 6, right on a stretch of the turnpike, which she hopes can serve as her temporary base while she finds something longer-lasting. Traversing the highway to the nearby Pizza Hut to get food, Ehrenreich remarks, is like an experience out of J. G. Ballard.

Ehrenreich realizes that there are few cheap housing options in Portland itself, because the more affluent take the motel rooms during the summer and those rates don’t drop until after Labor Day.