A common question from those considering a move to our corner of the world: Can I make a living in Floyd County?

Good question. The answer depends on a number of other questions:

  1. What do you consider "a living?"
  2. Do you have other sources of income?
  3. Do you have other resources?
  4. Have you won the lottery?
  5. Do you have a spouse who’s lucky at bingo? I do. It helps.

I used to tell people that working in Floyd meant working twice as long to earn half as much. These days, with the economy going to hell, the current equation is working at least three times as long to earn — at best — a third as much.

Floyd County is a place where couples not only both work but may each hold two jobs or more. It’s a county where more than half the residents cannot afford health insurance and where few employers provide health benefits, even to full-time employees.

Most residents of Floyd County work elsewhere, if they can find work. With Volvo laying off and closing out its Mack Truck operations and other companies cutting back or closing, work in Roanoke or the New River Valley just isn’t there.

The Floyd County Store sells a bumper sticker that reads: "Bluegrass musician. Driver has no cash." It’s not a joke. Most musicians in this county known for its music have day jobs. We have a lot of artists but few make a living with their art. Those who do manage by going to shows around the country or selling their wares elsewhere.

So why do so many people flock here? Because most of them realize that there’s a lot more to life than making money. It’s those who worship at the alter of financial success who get fed up and leave.