I also live in a rural community. My tiny village is about 15kms from Mazamet, a town that was once rich and world famous in the wool/skin industry but is now very poor with few jobs and a high crime rate.
There is a small tourist industry and, in the summer, I work 1 day a week cleaning 5 star holiday villas. I have worked with many women (and they are all women) in the 6 seasons I have done this job and most have at least one other job.
One of my colleagues worked 3 jobs, all cleaning, in hotels and factories during the 6 months we worked together. She worked 7 days a week to support her family and was permanently exhausted. Her husband couldn’t find work so looked after the children. They were barely managing financially.
Another amazing lady lives with her 78 year old mother on a farm that her mother still tries to run herself (father died of cancer many years ago). It has been reduced to chickens and rabbits (the cattle and pigs became too much)
and my friend helps her mother as much as possible. She also had another 3 jobs. She does secretarial work at home, is an aide à domicile and worked with me in the summer. She also suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic condition which means she is in constant pain.
Everyone is earning SMIC and life is tough for these ordinary working people.
My hubby and I live on about 1000€ a month. Our last holiday was our honeymoon in 2009, our car is 17 years old, we live in a tiny HLM flat (with thin walls and noisy neighbours), we never eat out, most of our clothes are second-hand or gifts and we have phones donated by family members. My husband has a chronic illness and I am his main carer so our options to improve our lot are extremely limited. In many ways we are fortunate. We have enough food and a warm place to live and we are very content to just be together and enjoy the small pleasures that life offers.