Offbeat suburbanite: "Selling out my generation" and moving to The Burbs

May 21 | Guest post by GT
By: Tony Alter - CC BY 2.0
By: Tony AlterCC BY 2.0
Recently I read an article in a local publication about young couples choosing to go against the grain and buy houses and raise families within the city limits. The subject struck me as odd; with the crowd that I run in, choosing to lay down roots in the city is the norm. I was the lone pariah that bucked the trend and moved to the suburbs.

When my fiancé and I started looking for houses, I was undecided on whether I wanted to live in the city or somewhere completely rural. My fiancé pointed out that living in the sticks would result in way too long of a commute (damn him and his logic!), and also that we were both starting to tire of the proximity of our neighbors after many years of city living. As much as I hated to admit it, the latter was true; we were routinely woken up an hour or so before our alarms by the mother next door yelling at her sons to get out of bed. The wee hours of the morning were sometimes accompanied by bar patrons puking outside our bathroom window, and it was common knowledge that if our neighbors were eating dinner at their dining room table, they were looking clear into our kitchen.

With these two well-made points, I had to confront what was, for me, a less popular option: The Burbs.

I can admit that it was hard for me to leave the city life; crowded as it was, I loved the shops and the bars, the restaurants revitalizing tired neighborhoods and breathing new life. Our city is in the midst of a renaissance, and the thought of leaving in the middle of all that saddened me. Facts were facts, though; I was raised in a house with a backyard that backed up to woods and fields, and I was secretly yearning to have my own piece of green space and the open fields just a mile or two away.

My friends were shocked to hear that we had purchased a home in the suburbs. We didn't seem like the type, the couple to want the white picket fence and the perfectly manicured lawn.

Only that's not the type of suburb dwellers that we are.

Instead of a sprawling castle in a brand new subdivision, we reside in a small Cape Cod in a lower-income neighborhood. We are using our decently-sized backyard to grow vegetables, and built a raised bed out of someone else's cast-off bricks to grow hops for when we brew beer. We collect up downed branches from our trees and, instead of putting them at the street for pick up, we invite our friends over for a bonfire. We compost our leaves and scraps in a homemade compost bin in the backyard, and ride our bikes through cow pastures in the dying light of the summer evening. While we aren't a stone's throw from a culturally cool bar, we have been investigating our local pubs and have even found some that have great microbrews on tap and sell them for super cheap.

Do I sometimes feel like a sellout to my generation for leaving the city for the suburbs? Hell yes. Do I feel like it was a bad decision? Sometimes… but it's a decision I'd make again. I guess it's time to own up to the fact that I am a suburbanite now, and try my hardest to break the stereotypes.

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  1. I don't feel like living in the suburbs is "selling out" at all. I live in the suburbs. Homes are larger, cheaper with more space. There are parks and community pools. There's definitely a draw to suburbia and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's kind of like over at Offbeat Bride how there's nothing wrong with wearing a white dress if that's what you want to wear. You make the decision. You don't do it just because you should, just like you shouldn't wear a red or purple or green dress just because it's rebelling against the norm. You make the decisions you make because they are what's best for you and what's most authentic.

    My neighbors are cool people. Some of them are gamers and a little offbeat like we are. Some are completely traditional, but they're nice people and having nice neighbors, wherever you live, is a great thing. I wouldn't give up my house for much of anything, just as some people wouldn't give up their apartment or condo or townhome for anything. Find what you love and lay down the roots you want to!

    49 agree
    • Totally agree. There isn't any selling out going on. It's just picking what fits you best. For some offbeat homies, it's inner city awesome-ness, while for others (myself included) it's quiet, older burbs.

      I don't really know my neighbors too much (social anxiety is fuuuuuun, lol), but I love the peace and quiet of my area. My home backs up to a forest which is totally fun for animal watching (we have had deer, possum, raccoon and snakes so far) and the country sounds at night are soooo much more relaxing than the freeway that my old place used to back up to.

      Also, explore your new area! I recently discovered that my town has a really cool downtown area full of ma and pop shops. There's also a really offbeat artist gallery with a VW van inside the store. Totally didn't expect that in my area, but a nice find none the less. =)

      5 agree
  2. I can't wait for a house in the 'burbs or the country where I don't have to consider if I am wearing enough clothing to go into my kitchen.

    32 agree
    • Haha I love this. Just walked out into the kitchen earlier this week to find my neighbor unloading groceries in her driveway. She looked over right at me. WHOOPS.

      5 agree
      • But I like to have them open! And the windows are shaped weird! And I can't use that cling stuff because they open out and get wet when it rains!

        99 problems, but pants aren't 1.

        16 agree
        • Dude I could NEVER remember to close the kitchen blinds. So I'd be goin' through the house all nudie, get back to my bedroom and realize–whoops, just did a F YES COFFEE dance for all the neighbors to see mah boobies.

          My solution, of course, was to shrug and be like YER WELCOME, NEIGHBS.

          41 agree
          • I always figured that if my neighbours (or train commuters, since our apartment overlooked a train line) saw me walk through my apartment naked then it was their fault for looking. I was totally like "Well now you know what happens when you look into other people's windows!". Despite the fact that the closeness of our apartment buildings meant that it was kinda hard to avoid it. But I'll justify my nude wanderings any way I can!

            2 agree
  3. Do I sometimes feel like a sellout to my generation for leaving the city for the suburbs?

    You have no obligation to your generation or any other group. Do with your life what makes you happy.

    37 agree
  4. Did you spy on my life? Seriously sounds exactly like my story, down to the Cape-Cod house.
    I was born and raised in New York City and my husband has bounced around a lot, but when we started dating he was living in Brooklyn. We wanted to stay in NYC, but really were priced out. What was the point of having a place in NYC if we couldn't afford to go out and enjoy it.
    We bought a Cape Cod in Yonkers, literally walking distance from the Bronx. We're probably the weirdest looking people in the neighborhood. But it is really nice to come home to my place.

    7 agree
    • I feel like our house was mass-produced in the 1950s so we probably live in the same house!

      1 agrees
      • When we were house shopping (in small-city-not-quite-Detroit-burbs-Michigan) I swear we looked at ten versions of the same dang Cape Cod house. Those bitches were popular, probably a solid 30% of the houses in this town are some kind of Cape Cod.

        • Wouldn't happen to be Royal Oak, would it? (Grew up there, lived in a cape cod house that at one point had been identical to pretty much everyone elses in the neighborhood but they were built mostly after WWII, so there had been considerable time for things to be renovated. Our house had 3 different additions put on.)

  5. My husband and I both grew up in the country but since I moved out at 18 I have lived in cities and for most of that time I lived downtown. I wanted to be able to walk to grocery stores and the library and restaurants and cultural events (something I couldn't do as a kid). I was a bit hesitant to move to the burbs (my husband had lived in some of the less appealing burbs as a student and it seemed like it was so far away – in distance and vision) but after we got married we decided to start looking for a house in the burbs. I kept an open mind knowing that we couldn't afford to live closer to the central part of the city where many of my friends were buying houses. We ended up finding a house in a great neighbourhood. We are a short walk to transit that takes me directly to work (my husband has to drive most of the time as transit to his work isn't as great but at least it is still available). We live a block from a library and in the other direction if we walk a block there is a grocery store (this is important since we only have one car and my husband uses it 90% of the time). We live close to a commercial area and we are a short bus trip to a couple of malls. There are parks nearby and a cycling path. We haven't checked out many of the local restaurants but there are a few in the commercial area. The other day my dad call to say my nephew is playing at a hockey tournament in my city and it turns out he's playing about a 15 minute walk from our house. There have been some downsides (I don't want to think about the fence right now) but for the most part it's been great having our own house and we haven't missed the drunk people yelling while stumbling down our street or the second-hand smoke from our neighbours. The one thing I have learned is that if suburbs are planned properly they aren't just an endless wasteland of houses that all look the same; there are amenities nearby just like in the core (in between all of the houses that look pretty much the same).

    4 agree
  6. Interesting. It's not necessarily totally clear-cut. Are we in a suburb (despite the proximity of the neighbors and the small yard) or an urban area (despite the proximity of good schools and the high percentage of people with kids)? My husband and I bought a house earlier this year and explored several very different neighborhoods in the process. My husband was attracted to the idea of moving way out to the country, but my "this commute is crazy in terms of time and money" logic won. Even then, there were borderline (no cow fields no hip bars) areas with very different atmospheres. We ended up within the city limits (handy for voting!) in an up and coming but also fairly stable, moderately diverse neighborhood. There are some neighborhood pubs, we have enough of a yard to grow green things, and there is a library branch within walking distance. Two neighborhoods further out, I wouldn't have been as happy because it is not walkable out there. Another few neighborhoods out, the housing costs are much higher and the commute starts to become an issue, though things are cute and can be walkable.

    1 agrees
    • We've lived in suburbia for a while, but just on the other side of "the city" that you describe. We do have some farms with cows, but we also have a downtown with lots of different types of restaurants and bars. We have a huge mall, but also have amazing state park. My kids can walk to school, the pharmacy and their friends houses. We also have a huge amount of socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. Technically we're not in the "best" town in terms of schools, safety, etc, but my kids have had great experiences in the public schools and we always leave our door unlocked.

      Assuming that all suburbs/suburbanites are alike is like assuming that all people with tattoos are alike. Everyone has their own reasons for making their own choices.

  7. I love living in the suburbs! Though sprawl is a huge problem and we need to limit it, I think there's a lot of potential to improve the community elements of our already-existing suburbs. In too many of them, there is not nearly enough neighborly interaction despite close proximity to one another. I like having a part in bringing my neighborhood back together. I think it's important to get people with that kind of mindset back into the suburbs, even if it's just bringing excess garden tomatoes to your neighbor, having a block party, or having the opportunity to share tools with one another.

    The way I see it, living in the suburbs gives my family enough privacy to WANT to spend time with and get to know our community. I also love the educational opportunities that our living situation provides for my toddler – We have enough space to grow vegetables and plant a big native wildflower garden, all hugging our small yard, and we get the added bonus of watching the bumble bees, birds and other critters that consider our tiny slice of land their home, as well. Like our own little haven.

    So thanks for making me realize how many benefits there are to living in the suburbs, when it FEELS like I shouldn't be enjoying it. It truly is all about what feels right to you, and different life styles can align with different living situations in… different ways 😉 I remember experiencing a LOT of surprise from my friends, too, when we bought a house in the suburbs, but it was worth it. No one should have to apologize for their preferences.

    3 agree
    • So glad I'm not the only one whose friends were surprised by the decision to relocate to the 'burbs! I totally agree that the sprawl really needs to be limited (my hometown is being paved more and more every day, which breaks my heart) but that is another discussion for another day. 😉

      It's interesting that you mention the suburban mindset. I know some of our neighbors, but not all. I'm not entirely sure how to go about meeting them. I do want to bring back that sense of community; I don't feel it very much where we live.

      1 agrees
      • I know it sounds ridiculous and counter intuitive, but we've used the social network Nextdoor to connect with our neighbors. At first I thought it was stupid because it would cause neighbors to shy away from in-person interaction and hide behind the internet, even next door to one another. But it has allowed us all to introduce ourselves to each other, find out who in the neighborhood has kids the same age as ours, plan playdates together, and plan a big block party that's in the works. It's done much more good than harm for us.

        3 agree
  8. Nothing wrong with the 'burbs! As a freaky teenager, sure, I couldn't wait to get away from my suburban home. I went to college near The City & thought it was so cool, with access to hip clubs & bars & stuff. But after graduation, guess what? All the jobs were back home, in suburban Silicon Valley. So I moved home & have been there ever since. Eventually, I got married & bought a little house in the 'burbs, despite my teenage dreams of "cool" city living.

    Some of my friends do live in The City & rave about how awesome it is. But most of them commute an hour or two each way to where *I* live for their jobs. So really, they don't experience much of their hipster city. Whereas I enjoy my charming little bungalow after a minimal commute. And my hubby & I have tricked it out to be a gothic cave on the inside with a tiki carbana in the backyard. Stuff we couldn't have done in a tiny city apartment.

    My 'burbs have as many amazing ethnic restaurants as The City, including the best Indian food I've had outside of India itself. I don't care about bars & clubs as much these days bec. I'm not a college kid. But hey, there's a fun Star Wars themed bar down the street from me, if I want a beer, to play pool, or do karaoke w/Jabba the Hutt. The 'burbs aren't necessarily cookie-cutter & boring — like any place, they're what you make of it.

    7 agree
    • Oh man, I'd LOVE it if all the jobs were near the suburbs. I live in Los Angeles, so all of the jobs are surrounded by very expensive housing. In order for me to afford a house (and I've looked), I would have to live two hours away from my job…and many of my coworkers do. They're all jealous of my 30 minute commute, which I have because of my tiny city apartment.

      It's weird how different some places are!

      2 agree
        • Thirded! I bought a house in Riverside County for half the price (and with twice the space) of a house in ritzy Orange County where the jobs are. Yeah, the commute is unfun. But I love my house as if it was a person, which is completely worth it.

          • I am in a similar dilemma now. We are currently renting in Norwalk (OC/LA borderline) but with the news that I am expecting (still very early on) I cannot stop thinking about moving to a more 'family friendly' area. I would love to be near nature, green space, less pollution but at the same time in a diverse walkable neighbourhood with libaries and some culture. I like south Orange County but it is way too expensive….someone told me recently to look inland in such areas as Corona, Chino…where do you live Nina?

  9. I have similar feelings, though from the opposite direction. I grew up very rural (like, the nearest supermarket is 45 minutes away, and in the summer if we wanted to ride our bike to the nearest gas station to get a popsicle, it was a five mile ride up and down absurd hills), and always figured I'd settle down in the country as well…..But we ended up almost in the suburbs. We fell into a home that's literally just over the line from "quaint suburban neighborhoods where kids sell lemonade on the sidewalks" and into the "preserved agricultural land". There is literally a line between these two zones; you're driving along through a tree-lined neighborhood, and then *poof* you're spit out into open fields with a big organic land trust farm. Our house is the next property after that. So, still TECHnically country, but we're 5 minutes to all of the schools, five minutes to the downtown (which is so quaintly American small-town that it's almost disgusting), five minutes to the local grocery store (or five minutes to the local natural foods store), and ten minutes to the nearest "urban sprawl" zone of Walmart/Lowes/Applebees/Sears, if you're into that.

    Being a country girl, it feels like a sell-out to be that close to "town", and definitely way too close to the "yuppie" coastal region (we're 15 minutes away from the LL Bean headquarters store)….

    ….But I kind of like it. I'm way closer to "town" than I ever wanted to be (kind of bummed that on overcast nights, the yellowy light pollution from the downtown lights up our own property like a full moon), but it does have it's pleasant perks. Our town has a local bookstore! There is a train station where we could catch the Amtrak to Boston if we wanted to. We could walk for groceries if we felt like it! Selling our hens' eggs on the roadside is absurdly easy and in high demand. We have a public library, and full time police/fire/EMT. Our future kids will probably go to school with real life actual non-white people. There are three farmers' markets to choose from. A big antique mall ten minutes away! We're a five minute drive to the coast for a picnic!

    So, I guess we can handle this almost-suburban living.

  10. Okay, your 'burb sounds WAY cooler than ours! I have hope, though, and I keep finding hidden gems. I like to go out running in parts of the neighborhood that I don't necessarily know. I stumbled upon an adorable little bakery a few weeks ago. SCORE!

    But a Star Wars themed bar? Man, we're not quite there yet. 😉 Looks like I need to open a bar.

    5 agree
  11. I lived in a not-so-nice area of Milwaukee when I was a grad student and then moved to an over-hyped suburb-cum-village that is basically an extension of the city. I smelled gasoline fumes due to my lovely view of a gas station from my windows. I was constantly blessed with stereo noise and emergency vehicles, and I witnessed quite a bit of street crime in a much higher-priced neighborhood. My friends all gave me a really hard time when my fiancé and I moved to a suburb because, guess what? We both had jobs there and were spending anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours driving to and from work. Yes, these so-called liberal environmentalists called us sellouts because we didn't want to burn all that gas and beat up our vehicles (and psyches) by driving that much to go home to a place we didn't even like. Practice what you preach, yo. My pocketbook and blood pressure are all the better for it.

    So yes, I've felt the sting from friends and was very resistant myself when we first moved out here. Instead, we're in a Les Paul GuitarTown that has a revitalized downtown and a real feeling of camaraderie. It's nice to spend my money in a place that is far less indignant and far more down-to-earth… which is who I really am! I still enjoy things in the city, but I do so on my own time. Interestingly, the divide between city/suburb in the Milwaukee area is very stark. City-dwellers scorn the suburbs, and they assume that suburbanites are xenophobic and unable to go outside of their comfort zones. I think that much could be done in this area to reciprocate local business and local tourism, if-you-will, instead of perpetuating stereotypes on both sides (city=danger! and suburbs=boring conservatism).

    2 agree
    • "City-dwellers scorn the suburbs, and they assume that suburbanites are xenophobic and unable to go outside of their comfort zones."

      You hit the nail on the head with this one! I think that's my biggest problem, that there are assumptions made about the suburbs. We are pretty cool, hip young folks, we just want more room to breathe.

      7 agree
    • Are you in Waukesha?? If so, I grew up just east of there, in New Berlin! Waukesha is the coolest of the Western suburbs, IMO. 🙂

  12. Many of our friends are in my partner's PhD program and, two years ago, we eschewed living within a short bus ride of campus for an outlying neighborhood of the city that butts onto suburbia. True, they whine a bit when they come visit about having to drive a whole 20 minutes, but we love having our little yard, wooded surroundings, patio and firepit, and a generally lower cost of living.

    1 agrees
  13. I'm about to move to the 'burbs toooo 😛 (If they agree on our contract! -fingers crossed-)

    But I think there's a big difference between cookie cutter suburbs and rurally suburbs. I grew up in lame suburbs while my husband grew up on a 2-acre paradise nestled amongst cornfields in the deep country. I work in a downtown metropolitan area, so that paradise just isn't in the cards for us. But he doesn't want to live in the burbs, and he's been pretty much dying in our apartment in the city. So, we fixed our dilemma by finding an older, more out-of-the way subdivision 😀 We can see a few of our neighbors, sadly, but sometimes you just gotta compromise! I think I wouldn't be happy in one of those 'burbs where every single house looks the exact same (Why are builders doing that?!), but there's lots of good ones that still feel mostly secluded.

    1 agrees
  14. You know, reading this makes me feel a bit better about my move. Right now, my boyfriend and I are in the process of moving in together to a townhouse that's farther out in the suburbs than either of us is used to. We both grew up in what are technically suburbs of the major city, but because of how old the houses are (my neighborhood went up around 1910, and his went up I believe in the 40's), a lot of city and restaurants and such sort of grew up around them. So we're both used to this sort-of-urban, sort-of-suburban living, with the quietness of suburbia and the walkability of the city. My current apartment is in that same kind of location, and I feel like I am going to miss it terribly. The town house isn't terribly far away from stuff to do (it's about 12 minutes from my current area and 25 minutes from downtown without traffic; double those times during rush hour), but still.

    Our new place is a lovely, if a bit cookie-cutter townhouse in an apartment complex, which is everything I have only lived in for a bit and hated every minute. But, it has the space for both of us to have office/studio space, as well as a back patio with a pretty reasonably sized space for a garden, and the price was right. I'm hoping that it will be much better than the other few times I've lived in places like it— and this piece makes me feel much better about our decision!

    1 agrees
    • That's exactly my situation right now too. The townhouse was just too good of a deal to pass up – WAY more space than we could have afforded in the city, and not so far away that we never go downtown, but not walkable at all, really. The patio and garden space are fantastic, though, and we have people over a lot more than we used to since there's a lot more room. I thought I was going to hate it, but it's not all bad. We're hoping to move back to the city in a few years, so it all feels kind of temporary. Even if we ended up staying, though, I don't think I'd ever feel like a "suburbs person," you know? If there even is such a thing.

      1 agrees
  15. So glad I was able to help you out! I still miss the city a lot, but my love of our house and yard and the quietness of the neighborhood greatly outweighs that.

    1 agrees
  16. My favorite thing to remind myself is 'your choices are different than mine, sometimes that makes me uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean its a bad decision'.
    In our culture (especially during the 20-30 years I've found) we tend to be really harsh towards people who don't conform to our non-conformity. We repeatedly judge people based on our own goals, our own priorities without first considering that the individual's goals may vary. I say if it helps you towards your goals, by all means let go of your internalized guilt and go for it! Living in a place that hinders your forward momentum and happiness simply because its the choice others are more comfortable with will not end well for anyone. Your friends and family (ideally) want you to be happy, and living in a place that isn't a good fit for you will make everyone miserable in the end!

    4 agree
  17. We kinda have the best of both worlds right now. We're right in the downtown core, in a cute 2 bedroom house on a corner lot with an enormous yard. Our neighborhood is near the downtown justice complexes and such so there's a ton of law offices (and spas. For the lawyers to use on their lunches? Odd) that are busy during the day but it's super quiet at night. We've got the coolest front porch ever and as a bonus, we're 6 blocks from the beach. I don't know that I'll want to stay where we are forever, but we love it for now. About the worst thing we have to deal with is people leaving trash in our yard on their way to and from the Salvation Army shelter that is across the block on the opposite corner. We can deal with that.

  18. This is a great post! Luckily, my city is small enough that suburb-like living is available throughout. I, too, chose a lower-income neighborhood just on "the other side of the tracks". It's a 5-minute drive to the center of the city and public transportation and bike riding is also an option. I have an adorable, but very affordable, house and my humble neighborhood is perfect for me, even though some people talk badly about it. We lived right downtown for 5 years and sometimes I crave city life, but I don't think I could ever go back to not having a basement.

    • I don't think I could ever go back to not having a yard. Bonfires, dinner outside, looking at the stars at night…. life is good! Oh, and the basement is nice too. 😉

      1 agrees
  19. After growing up in a middle-of-nowhere small town (No Target! No Starbucks! Small, independent boutiques with locally crafted, one of a kind items; organic grocery stores; microbreweries? LOLOLOL!) and spending most of my 20s in varying degrees of inner-city ghetto, we are closing on our house in the 'burbs in 9 days.

    We wanted to live in one of the cute midtown bungalows built decades, almost centuries ago. We really did. But in the end, it would have cost $50 more per square foot to live in a house with wiring that was almost certainly no longer up to code, few outlets, possibly no central heat/air, no garage, no walk-in closets (sometimes, NO closets) and not substantially more room than our current apartment. Sure, they're loaded with charm, but after paying the mortgage, there's no way I could afford to make it look cool anyway. (Or eat.) Plus, asbestos. Lead paint. Orangeburg pipe.

    As for the cheaper options, I got my fill in my younger years of living in apartments with steeply sloping floors, that cost $250/mo. to heat 600 sq. ft., that were so infested that I had to sleep on an air mattress inside a tent inside my rent house (true story). And the yelling. And the gunshots. That's cheap living near the city's core, my friends.

    Will I trade my Indie Card not to have to deal with any of that ever again? You bet your sweet ass.

    3 agree
    • "Will I trade my Indie Card not to have to deal with any of that ever again? You bet your sweet ass. "

      Yeah, at our last place in the city a kid was found torched to death about a half mile from our place (cuz, you know, gangs). And the yelling…. oh the yelling.

  20. Very timely – we just put an offer down on a house in the burbs, and I have been nearly hyperventilating all day feeling like, what if I hate it? What if it's the wrong choice? Most of my friends live in the city too, and I have always lived in the city. But, we want to grow some things, and my husband grew up in the country and has been missing it like crazy. We weren't finding anything in the city for a reasonable price, but just 15 minutes away, things were totally different. You are most definitely not alone in making that choice!

    1 agrees
  21. I'm so glad there's so many of us. 🙂 Can we start an online forum somewhere? 😉

    2 agree
    • AND you brew your own beer too, with hops you've grown yourself?! Sign me up for that forum. And local meet & greets 🙂

  22. We bought a house in a suburb about a fifteen minute drive from my job at the Main downtown library in the city. (It's a Midwestern city that feels fairly small to me, as cities go, but the downtown area is a definitely-urban feeling city, not just a "this place happens to be incorporated as a city" city. I mean, technically speaking, my suburb is a city.) Just because I live in the 'burbs doesn't mean I have to spend all my time there. My husband can meet me downtown when I'm done at work for dinner and a play or to hear one of our favorite local bands play at a bar. In the other direction, I drive past sheep to get to church, and also cows if I want to go to the nearest library in the county I actually live in. Back at home we have enough space for a home library and a game room that we'd never have had room for downtown or in the older semi-suburbs within the bigger city's city limits. And my husband's commute is even shorter than mine.

  23. If there were suburbs like that in the area I grew up in (Baltimore/DC corridor) I might live in one! I could walk to the old downtown where I grew up but there wasn't (and still really isn't) anything I'd want to walk to there, and the town has sprawled into a lot of strip malls and traffic. The area has public transportation though not fantastic, and it's a very car dependent area. House prices are higher in the 'burbs, too.

    My medium, was buying in a "streetcar suburb" of my city, so I have a nice sized stand alone house with a yard, which can be a good option for people who want more space (especially if they commute into a city for work). Otherwise I'd want to figure out a new job situation and go way rural and have acres insulating me from other people (which would involve a move across state lines because land is $$$ in the metro area). The suburbs some of you live in sound really nice, though, I'm jealous!

  24. I'm a country girl who never wanted to move from the fields and trees and slower paced life. My partner comes from a very busy and bustling town and made the decision to move to where I grew up. We think it's funny when people raise their eyebrows over our love of gardening and home-making and spending time walking through the countryside or attending church. It was a life he didn't really have the chance to choose in a concrete jungle and after moving, he found it was something he absolutely adored, and couldn't imagine returning to street lights and pollution and noise. Not every young person wants to live life like the social elites of tv. We're happiest cooking dinner and entertaining friends in our home, not in a fancy restaurant. And you know what? Our friends kind of love the change too! Quite a few have said about moving to a similar sort of area, getting back to nature and living a life of substance, not style.

    3 agree
  25. We're in the midst of making a move to suburbia now too. And I've had the same hangups and guilt! I LOVE the city we live in now, love our house, love the neighborhood and being so close to cool bars, shops & restaurants. Our city is in the midst of a very exciting renaissance too, and I've been grateful to have been a part of that. But our house is a double; we live upstairs & rent out the downstairs and while we've always gotten lucky with good tenants, we still have to share the basement, front porch, backyard, etc. and we're ready to not have to do that (it'd be nice to not have to get dressed to go throw a load of laundry in the basement in case one of the tenant sees me!). Plus, with a 3 year old we have to soon think of the quality of the schools too, and unfortunately the public schools in the city are terrible, & we can't afford private options. We also can't afford the type of house we want to grow into in this neighborhood (there are gorgeous areas of amazing single family houses within walking distance of where we are now that we can only dream of living in). Logically, everything points to moving out of the city. So, the burbs it is!

    But I still feel the regret that we can't stay. When I casually mentioned where we were thinking of moving to an acquaintance of mine who is a huge force behind much of the city's resurgence (every cool festival, event, new rehab project is in some part because of his involvement), he looked like his dog just died. Then he said, "Just promise me whoever buys your house will be as awesome as you guys are." Which was nice to hear… and makes me more adamant that we'll still be around for all the awesome stuff going on, even if we have a bit more of a drive to get to it.

  26. The funny thing is that I didn't even know there was such thing as suburbs until I moved out of Las Vegas! Seriously; Vegas is just one big, sprawling suburb. Hardly anyone lives on the strip because well…that's where all the hotels are. Granted, there have been developments with high-rise, luxury apartments being put onto the strip, but no Vegas local would want to live right next to where all the craziness is. We've been having a hard time selling the apartments as well (too expensive and no access to nearby convenience such as grocery stores).

    Every part of Vegas outside the strip is nothing but your typical fare of stucco-block housing with layout A, B, C, etc. the only 'inner city' we have is downtown and a bit past the Las Vegas boulevard part, and that's where the ghetto pretty much is.

    Honestly, I got sick of suburbia as everything seems to be the same…one foreign exchange student from Pakistan once told my class that she hated the housing here in America because they all look the same, lol. Such a shame that she hasn't seen other American cities, as that won't be the case!

    I live in Los Angeles now, and I must say that I love the charm of living in a beach city (South Bay area). So unique and a breath of fresh air from what I'm used to!

    1 agrees
  27. I'm always wondering: what exactly is it that defines a suburb as a suburb? Is it a residential neighborhood with parks and community centers? Do you have to be removed from the city center by so many miles? In Portland (where I live) I hardly know anyone that lives in "proper-downtown". Most people I know live in the little sub-neighborhoods within the city limits and each area has it's own little restaurants and shops but is mostly residential. What is it that makes a suburb different? Just wondering what people's definitions are.

    • I think of suburban as a non-dense residential neighborhood without much that you can walk to. In some suburbs, you can walk to a corner store or a coffee shop, but you almost always need to drive to the grocery store.

      Does most everyone have a yard? Are there many apartment buildings or is it mostly single-family dwellings? Do most people get in their cars to drive elsewhere to work? These are all hallmarks of suburbs, which I think of as very different from urban villages… where you have a mix of multi-family dwellings and single family dwellings clustered within walking distance of commercial strips that include restaurants and a grocery store.

      1 agrees
  28. I referred to my neighborhood as a street car suburb because the streetcar used to run right down the main commuter street (which runs from just east of the city center out to the suburbs). I wish it still did because, as many people probably know, the move to buses from cars was terrible for an urban location. Our city transit system is a joke.

    To me suburbs are usually planned developments and are not based around a multi use commercial areas (offices, stores, entertainment, etc.). Most are not within walking distance of commercial areas either, or are based around car travel to access such areas even if people do walk. Housing tends towards single family homes with yards, and there is not an emphasis on mixed types of housing or mixed income areas. There is an emphasis on sprawl and not density.

    I grew up near Columbia, MD which was planned to be "villages" around centers that had stores, restaurant, and some offices, all connected by walking/biking paths. Despite this planning it has turned into a lot of sprawl with strip malls ,and it's very car dependent. The original idea was noble but I would say it hasn't been entirely successful.

  29. I TOTALLY feel the same about selling-out. I have been a die-hard "Inner-Looper" (urbanite) since I escaped the suburbs after my divorce 10 years ago.

    Now, my new husband and I are buying a house in a suburb. It's a close-in suburb and is recent construction, but it's so… Pleasantville.

    I won't be composting or brewing beer, but I hope I otherwise adjust as well as you have. I'm having a lot of anxiety about the radical change from everything I need being half a mile or less from my house, to everything I need being scattered 3 miles away.

  30. My husband and I just moved into a house in a suburb north of Atlanta. The move resulted in needing a second car, because sprawl, which led to a lot of feels, but oh well. Biking to work was just not happening with the current construction. So far the transition has been great from our little 1/1 . We can garden and compost, and our dog had a yard. The best part has been the neighbors! We have these old short fences from the 50s with gates connecting the backyards. One neighbor has a few dogs and now we have dog play dates just by opening the gate!

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