Debates on adaptation in rural Africa rarely consider how responses to climate variability vary by wealth group. This study examines differences across wealth groups based on principal component analysis and cluster analysis triangulated with participatory methods. Results indicate that perceptions of weather variability and extreme events are detected by most households regardless of wealth status. The most common responses—using drought-resistant crops and changing planting dates—are also similar across groups. However, there are significant differences in the type of adaptation options adopted by wealthier and poorer farmers: the former intensify agriculture through improved seed varieties, fertiliser and manure; the latter depend on craft activities, seasonal migration and support from relatives and neighbours. Overall, our findings suggest that measuring asset holdings could allow a differentiated approach to supporting adaptation across socio-economic groups in rural regions in Ethiopia and Africa more broadly.