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Suburbs - what's the appeal?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by gsys, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. I grew up in small-city Iowa, where I figured I was living in a place somewhat similar to big-city suburbs. That is - not urban, single family detached houses with yards, safe neighborhoods with friendly people and nice schools.

    I figured that this would approximate the appeal of big city suburbs, but moving to the Twin Cities, and after thinking about it some more, it seems to me that what I would have thought would be the appeal of the suburbs are often the things absent from them.

    For example, it seems that suburbs aren't so safe these days with all the "troubled youth" with absent parents, and car accidents on the loud nearby highways that are necessary to maintain sprawl. The schools are often huge, but frequently lack the benefits of true cultural diversity, turning into cliquefest Littletons. You've got super-long commutes, high housing prices and cost-of-living in general. Also, I'm starting to see fields of clone apartments sprouting up in the burbs, which baffles me to no end. Contrast to the revival urban areas are experiencing, with urban neighborhood designs and traffic calming, less crime, and all that jazz that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. So why are sacrificing so much to live in McMansion wastelands when there are alternatives?

    I exaggerate and generalize of course, but seriously, what's the big deal with living in big city outer-ring burbs?
  2. Mostly for the reasons you touched on. Citys have a whole bunch of people in them, and as a result often smell funny. In the suburbs, you can drive, and not pay $500 a day for parking. You also get to avoid those crazy artsy and music types that hang out in coffee shops and listen to jazz while painting stuff. An added bonus is being able to safely walk around at night without carrying. And don't forget "better schools".

    On a more serious note about the McMansion comment, I'd rather live in one of those than pay the same for a cramped 2 bedroom apartment in the middle of a city.
  3. Are you still in the Twin Cities area?

    I like my 1955 bungalow and the neighborhood. One reason why I moved out a little bit (northern shoreview), is because I could get more house for my dollar, to get the same house on the same sized land would be 50% more in either "city". I'm still within 20 minutes of both downtowns, I can go to theater, clubs, etc and just drive 20 minutes. I have a yeard at which I can have bonfires everynight in the summer...or winter. I live in a neighborhood that was built in the 50's, so the houses are all ramblers or bungalows and pretty close to eachother. The highway is not nearly as noisy as the nightlife, etc that I had when I lived in "the city" in college. I was about 1/2 step away from living on Grand Ave in St. Paul a while back, but I decided that I didn't want to have to constanly fight for parking and deal with "shoppers". I feel very safe in my neighborhood, I know all the kids and parents, they know me. We talk to each other and watch out for each other. I do see a lot of the townhome/apartment plots exploding as you go north of me, and I don't think I'd like that. I know lots of people who live right in the downtowns and love it. I guess I'm just not a city livin' guy. But, as they say, different strokes for different folks.

    EDIT: I completly understand that you are generalizing about the McMansion and all, but I do consider my 1300 (total) SqFt 1.5 story house and 75x150 ft lot a "Mansion" - it's all in perspective ;)
  4. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I think the main appeal is the that it's as close as a lot of people are going to get to owning actual property, "14 acres & a mule", etc. Which is part of the American dream, it may not be much, but it is there's.

    Also, in many suburbs, and a lot of the new exurbs being built, housing costs are siginificantly cheaper than they are in the city.So it's a double bonus.
  5. It depends where you are at with your life and what you value at that time.

    When I was in my twenties and early thirties, city life was where it's at. I lived in San Francisco. Night life, bars, restaurants, music venues, excitement, diversity, etc.

    Now that I have a family, a whole host of other things are important. Good schools, safe streets and culdesacs for my kids to play in, affordable property (comparatively), other families with kids, etc. Suburbs provide this. All while being easily in reach of job opportunities and all the benefits of the city.
  6. Yep, totally agree with that.

    Ooops! Sorry for got my forumesse....

  7. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    Growing up in the ultimate example of a suburb that I've ever encountered (Pleasanton, CA), I never really liked it. It was always so boring to me. Especially now when I go back there for breaks. I think I could handle suburban living better if it wasn't for the hills that seperate Pleasanton and the other towns around it from the rest of the Bay Area. I know it only takes 30 minutes to get to Oakland or Berkeley, but there's this mental block of going over the hills that just seems lodged in my brain.

    I guess the 'burbs make sense for some people, my best friend included, but I just couldn't handle living there any time soon. It's all too...boring.
  8. It all depends on the city.

    Take Houston for example. They have no zoning regulations. So Houston sprawls like a basset hound on a hot day. Their suburbs end up squished in between sections of urban or industrial growth, so they move away and for another suburban area, which gets squished, and so on and so on.

    Portland, on the other hand, has had some fairly strict zoning regulations and urban sprawl boundaries for a long time. Yeah, if you look at a map it seems to cover most of the state, but in reality you can drive from city boundary to city boundary in about 20 minutes, if traffic is nice to you.

    I love my suburban neighborhood. We're about 1/2 a mile off of a semi-major highway, right next to the river. It's quiet, the crime rate is quite low (except for the ever-present meth problem, but that's everywhere, not just the subs) and teh schools are very good. Jobs are within easy commuting distances, and there is enough entertainment close by to provide the necesary distractions. Makes everything pretty close.

    Rock on
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
  11. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Yup, these pretty much sum up the appeal to the 'burbs. For the people who live there, the positives outweigh the negatives.

    Portland has created their zoning laws specifically to thwart sprawl (actually, not so much to thwart sprawl, but to keep the downtown areas a vital part of the metro area). Zoning laws do not do too much for downtown revitalization plans in cities like Pittsburgh, where individual municipalities surround the city instead of having miles and miles of "city limits." That is, each municipality controls their own zoning laws and can (attempt to) attract specific industries, regardless of how close they are to the downtown area. What would be the point of relocating to a downtown area when you can have access to various transportation modes, low crime, cheap land, and possibly tax benefits if you are a business?
  12. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    City living isn't for everyone. I have no desire to live there.

    I also have no desire to live in your typical suburban neighborhood, so my Wife and I moved to the country. I like that there's a horse farm down the street one way, and cows the other way. I also enjoy the woods behind my house, and not having nosy neighbors peering in on either side.
  13. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I'm from a fairly small town in Michigan, with Lake Michigan 1/2 mile from my bedroom and woods to go explore. I now live in Chicago for school, and even though Lake Michigan is 1/2 mile away, I can't hear it at night with an open window like I could at home. :bawl:

    That's why I'm going to get out of here when I'm done with school, to Big Sky Country out West....
  14. Chris M

    Chris M

    Oct 23, 2005
    Littleton, CO
    It's funny you mention that... I grew up about 5 minutes away from the exact place you're talking about. The mall I hung out at as a teenager is right down the street from the school.

    I don't think what everyone has seen on the news about Littleton accurately describes it. I know everyone gets nostalgic when they talk about their home town, but it's true. Right across the street from Columbine is the community of Grant Ranch - The epitome of what you're talking about. Huge houses (bigger than any average family needs), an SUV and a minivan sitting in each driveway (because the garage is full of crap), two annoying kids causing trouble because they have nothing better to do, and parents who have no clue...

    Then there's my parents neighborhood, built in the early 70's. There's Louie Bowe - the guy who used to give me and my friends money for the ice cream man when we were kids and still clears off the sidewalks when my Dad's out of town in the winter. Oh, and for cultural diversity's sake, he's black. There's the Resendez family who moved in the day after my parents did. I grew up with their kids and still talk to them in the grocery store occasionally.

    There's my neighborhood, that's full of brand new houses, where my daughter goes to the park and plays with little Vietnamese, Laotian, Ethiopian, Hispanic, and white kids. She rides her bike around all over the place, but has to watch out for the people who cut through the neighborhood and drive like idiots. Every year we have a block party where everyone's invited to bring food, talk, dance, and get to know one another.

    The bottom line is, I can drive you from Grant Ranch to my parents neighborhood then into mine and the drive would last all of 15 minutes. Yes, the houses look pretty much the same, save a few paint colors and outer enhancements. They're all your basic cookie-cutter suburbs, but that's only on the outside. I grew up in the 'burbs and I loved it. I have great memories of all that and wouldn't give it up for the world..

    It's all in how you look at it..
  15. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I have no idea.

    I live in Suburbia... I HATE IT

    I have to drive 15 minutes to do anything! The sports arena is 20 minutes away! the mall is 20 minutes away!


    I'd love to live in the city....
  16. Where it takes 20 minutes to go one city block if you get the hankering for coffee at the wrong time of day.

  17. Fortunately, it's easy to walk.

    Honestly, traffic is much (much) worse here in Seattle than in Spokane, where I grew up. It's also much easier for me to get around because I can ride my bike, walk, or take the bus to anywhere that I would ever want to go. In less urban areas, you pretty much need a car to get around.
  18. I live on Long Island. The only way into mainland America is through New York City.
    It's awesome. Honestly, I LOVE living here. It's cheaper then the city, but close enough that you can go into the city any time you want. We have the privacy/comfort of a normal suburb, but with all the advantages/oppurtunities of living in the city. It's great.
  19. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    I love my suburban existence.

    Let's take a ride, run with the dogs tonight.... In suburbiaaaa..
  20. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I live 3 miles north of the Detroit line. I like Detroit, but I like my location and the amenities around me. It is an older sub...about 1946+. Modest homes that have sidewalks, low speed limits and markets nearby. The Dream Cruise is 2 blocks from me every year.

    The Pistons play a few miles up the road. The Wings, the Tigers and the Lions(stink) are nearer to the south.

    It's pretty cool. I'd go nuts in the sticks. I can't stand being 'up-North' at the folks' cabin for more than 3 days cause there's nothing to do but look at wilderness and breathe fresh air, and ride a motorboat. No cable TV, no internet=No TalkBass.