In late 2021, I realized that with a Federal Housing Administration loan, I probably could buy a house in western Pennsylvania. I had also just replaced the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid I brought across country with a 2021 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium Hybrid because the Camry had suffered too much damage from Pittsburgh roads. I had noticed that the roads in Erie, even with an older surface, despite the heavier snowfall, were in far better condition.

So suddenly I’m thinking again about where I want to live. The lake is spectacular at Erie. So I drove up once each month, from December through February, for a day or two to check the business at the worst time of year in the Uber/Lyft/taxi business. And I’ve concluded I would be better off in Erie.

A significant issue with a move to Erie is timing. The arguments for haste:

  1. Potholes and the potential damage to my new car.
  2. Potential savings on rent costs: It appears I can mortgage a place in Erie for a lower monthly payment than rent here or there.
  3. Political polarization is a real problem in Pittsburgh; the hate here with the accompanying toxic masculinity, aggressive and reckless driving, and road rage compound my post-traumatic stress.
  4. Even without the previous point on road rage, Pittsburgh is the hardest place to drive in that I’ve ever been.[1]

The arguments for caution and delay:

  1. Moving is expensive and I’m still recovering financially from last year when I was off several weeks waiting for the new car and when I moved to my present place.
  2. My present landlord insists on annual leases terminating in April, which is just about the worst possible time of year for me to move. I’m recovering from the winter doldrums that make Uber/Lyft/taxi driving especially financially dreadful at the same time taxes are due. With a bit of recovery time, I might be in better shape to deal with this next year.
  3. The second trip exposed the difficulties of Erie in the Uber/Lyft/taxi business and Erie seems to have an endemic problem with residents failing to honor odd-even parking rules so snow plows can get through.[2] It’s possible this was an especially bad year but when you’re financially precarious, these are the situations you have to plan for.
  4. Uber and Lyft are likely not long for this world.[3] Given my inability to find alternative employment, which I desperately want,[4] I’m going to have an even more serious problem if I’m stuck with a mortgage.
  5. What I’m really seeing here is that another move isn’t going to resolve my frustrations which are really about the job hunt. I don’t want to be driving for a living, let alone for Uber or Lyft.[5] The reason the potholes are urgent, the reason the driving conditions in Erie become a problem is the same: I’m stuck driving for Uber and Lyft. And if those companies do, as I expect, indeed go belly up,[6] while there will still be demand for the services these companies provide, I completely do not want to get into the headaches of running my own business—including marketing, at which I am absolutely hopelessly inept—in this space on top of the headaches I already have.
  6. If I buy a house, my expectation is that it will be the house I die in. This deserves a bit of thought.

Fig. 1. Map of Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries is taken from US Census website and modified by User:Ruhrfisch in April 2006. Ruhrfisch’s modifications are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

What I would be looking for:

  • Peace: Absolutely NO “crime watch” bullshit, which signifies both that neighbors think there’s a problem and that they’re being racist in their solution.
  • Quiet, both in terms of noise and being able to pull out of my driveway sanely. This also precludes, though I haven’t seen any around Erie, brick or cobblestone streets.
  • Dignity, such as I have been denied nearly my entire life. This will mean, in part, a stick-built, rather than pre-manufactured, home.
  • I strongly prefer trees to grass, woods to lawns.
  • A garage and a separate paved driveway that can be cleared of snow.

I’m inclined to think all this is more likely in the rural outskirts of Erie than it is in Erie itself or immediately adjacent suburbs.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d.,
  2. [2]Kevin Flowers, “Owners of buried vehicles face tickets, towing as city of Erie plows ahead to clear snow,” Erie Times-News, February 9, 2022,; Ethan Kibbe, “Frustration Continues Over Illegal Parking Concerns,” Erie News Now, January 31, 2022,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2022,
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d.,
  5. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d.,
  6. [6]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2022,