For 22 years my family and I lived in Westfield, New Jersey, by many measures, the ideal place to raise a family. There are great schools, quiet leafy streets, multiple transportation options, a walkable downtown, and cultural and religious options to fit diverse tastes. Even its names evokes wholesomeness. When I arrived there in 1995, I knew within 30 minutes that it was the wrong place for me. It took us 22 years to undo that decision. I spent years telling myself that it was not so bad but always hating it. This is a story of finding my comfortable place in the world…
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. 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…
We have a plan for our lives — a plan to save as much money as possible, so we can become financially independent in the next ten years, and then do whatever we want with the rest of our lives. You could call us Mustachians or Early Retirement Extremists, but really we just like the idea of being able to decide how to spend our time without worrying about a paycheck.
I’m gonna give y’all some city vegetable gardening tips that might help you save some cash and beef up your summer dinner menu at the same time. You see what I did there? Food pun!
Let’s look at some truths.
I live in a Canadian border city. It is not urban; it’s a collection of suburbs with giant malls as focal points. It’s an inefficient arrangement, and it’s exactly the type of town that’s been torn down by the foreclosure crisis. It’s the type of town that a group of architects and designers at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC would like to change. Running now until August 13th is the exhibit “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream.”
I am not a gated-community lover. Where some people see neat, tidy, clean, and fresh, I see suffocating sameness. Where some people see safe community outside the reaches of city life, I see bizarre planned suburbia far far away from everyone else (ideal in zombie apocalypse, not so much for everyday life). Some people like rules, I like being able to park on the street overnight. Now I find myself living with AWESOME PEOPLE in my nightmare neighborhood: the suburbs. But why be all Sad Sam about it?
What’s a girl to do in her mid-twenties, firmly ensconced in being a real live adult and having to make the decision about where home will be right now?
You don’t have to live in a haystack house outfitted with solar panels to be eco-conscious in your use of energy. Jess’ tips are helpful. I wish I’d had them when we were house-hunting.