City vs suburb vs country living

I’ve lived in Boston and New York City for the better part of the past decade but I was raised in the suburbs. I also travel a lot and have seen a lot of places all over the world.

I have to say that I favor city livin’. I like being able to roll out of bed at noon and walk to the park or eat breakfast at 4am. I like bumping into friends around the neighborhood and being able to take a quick cab ride to meet people for drinks after work.

Suburban living is nice too if you live near (within 15 min) of an urban center. Going out has a diferent feel since people have to congregate in some kind of “staging area” first (usually a mutually convenient bar or appartment) and then caravan into town. If you live furthur out though, it can be pretty tedious if there’s no place to go but the complex of mega-malls, chain restaurants, big box stores and strip malls. It can have a sort of “generic” feel.

Rural areas just scare me. That’s about all I can say about that.

So…what kind of area do you like to live in?

I like rural areas. I like the quietness and peace and sense of space. I like having five or six acres of woods behind the house to wander around in with the dogs. I like being able to see the stars at night. I like driving past fields of horses and cattle. I like getting into a conversation with a stranger waiting in line somewhere and having them exclaim, “You’re Louis Ray’s little girl? Why, I grew up just down the road from your daddy, and oh, the stories I could tell you!” I like knowing most of the folks I see at the grocery store. I love the smells of fresh-cut hay drying in the fields and tobacco drying in the barns.

I’m fairly neutral about suburbs. It’s nice to have more places to shop and eat and see movies, but that’s pretty much all the positive stuff I can say about them.

I’m not real fond of cities, especially large ones. They just always seem dirty and claustrophobic to me. I can live in a smallish city close to honest-to-God country, and I can tolerate short visits to larger cities. But if I had to live somewhere like New York or Boston, I think I’d slit my wrists.

I’ve recently moved to NYC, and outside of some unfortunate criminal activity that’s come my way, I really prefer it to suburban living. The level of convenience is astounding, let’s take a quick look around my corner and see what’s on the block.

Left near side:
Video rentals
Italian restaurant
Dry Cleaner
Bagel shop

Left far side:
Photography store
Art showroom
Pottery store

Right near side:
Nail shop
24hr Convenience store

Right far side:
Convenience store

All this a stone’s throw away. I used to walk farther to get to my parking spot when I lived up in the suburbs. I didn’t necessarily feel much safer at night either, with all the racoons and skunks wandering around, I would walk home like I was in the middle of the South Bronx.

I also feel a better sense of community than in the suburbs. I know all of my local shopowners, and can say “hi” to at least a few neighbors. That didn’t really happen in my old place. Maybe it’s because you’d do most of your shopping in a big supermarket or a mall, instead of in small independant shops.

The one thing that will be the city killer is the lack of space. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford a large living space here, so if we want to have children, it might require a move to the burbs.

I like small towns. The town I grew up in and the town I currently live in are small, both have under 10,000 people. The country is close, my horse is boarded ten minutes away. But I can get into my car and go to St. Paul or Minneapoilis in 20-30 minutes. When I first moved to this town the population was 5,000, my SO grew up here and he knows a lot of people here. Recently, urban sprawl from he cities has arrived and the population has grown quickly - there are generic subdivisions everywhere. It is causing this town to lose its small-town feel and I don’t really care for that.

I don’t like living in big cities (I lived in St. Paul for a year, didn’t care for it at all), or suburbs (too generic), but I would love to live in a rural community or stay in a small town.

Hell yeah for my small town - neither big city nor suburb nor rural. My town is about two square miles in size, and has 5000 residents. I’ve lived here since I was 12. I know the policemen, the librarians, the crossing guards, the people in the stationary store, the guys at the gas station, and teachers at school. On Sundays I worship at the church I was married in, with people of all ages, some of whom I’ve known for years. My children had some of the same teachers I had for history and science. Some of my friends are the children of some of my parent’s friends. My daughter used to stop off at my mother’s house on her way home from school to play cards and have a tea party. When the pond freezes over in the winter it looks like the whole town in out there ice skating and playing hockey. Our Fireman’s Fair, the last week in August, is just starting to set up. I hear the birds singing as I type this, with a background hum of late summer crickets. The Sunday 12:00 noon fire whistle just went off.

City living here, but I guess I should 'fess up. Our neighborhood is in the backyard of downtown but has a very small town feel about it. Little old houses that everyone has fixed up in their particular style, lots of trees and since the houses were built decades ago as housing for a steel mill there are sidewalks and established yards of hydrangeas, camellias and such. I can live happily and never get on the expressways or in traffic if I choose.

Plus my mother still lives in the small town I grew up in and I am fortunate to visit frequently. The stars are a lot prettier from her front porch than mine I must admit. And people there still call me “…one of Sugar’s girls…” My mother finally gave up hating that nickname. If I go on a 30 minute errand with my sister who also lives there (and is a teacher so she knows everyone) I add the requisite extra hour to talk to everyone we meet. When I went away to college if I overdrew my checking account the bank would actually call my mother and ask if they could transfer some funds and this before the standard protection for over-withdrawal of funds…just a courtesy to my mom (and me! it was usally just a few dollars mistake becasue I “rounded off” but that’s another story.) So I know well and love the value of a small town. As I get older I find that it draws me back like some giant elastic.

When our daughter was in middle school and high school we lived further out, still inside the city but more suburban so we could have space. I wanted her to be able to have her friends at the house as much as possible (so I could watch them…aha!) Actually I just wanted them to have a place to come and have fun, crash if they were out late and maybe stay our of trouble. But as soon as she left for undergrad we headed back into the city. It was a little to quiet, too uniform for me without the reason to be there. But that’s just me.

I read your post smiling CrazyCatLady because I will probably be able to have a rural location to sneak off to and enjoy someday. What you described sounds like what my daughter wants for herself someday. And I know her well enough to figure it will happen.

Put me down for city living.

Following Cheesesteak’s example, this is what I have right around the corner on Santa Monica Boulevard.

North side going east (several blocks but very walkable):

Greek, Oaxacan, and Persian restaurants; Mexican market all in the same corner minimall*.
EZ lube.
Art supply store.
Jewelry store.
Sushi bar 1.
Independent Video store #1
Cafe 50’s (retro 50s style diner)
Sushi restaurant #2
National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Store
Sushi restaurant #3 (more like a traditional Japanese restaurant before sushi came into vogue)
Independent coffee house
Art movie house
Italian deli
Expensive Italian restaurant under the same roof as the deli and run by same people

South side going east:
Liquor store
Goodwill thrift
Hollywood Video
Car dealership
Von’s (chain market)
Another art supply store
Car wash
Another video store
Tiny little Chinese Thai restaurant
Post office
The local branch courthouse and library
Liquor store

The only thing we don’t have is bar, although the restaurants are licensed. We’re near a VA facility, and there’s an old law against having a “saloon” near a VA facility.

*yeah, I know, it’s a minimall. That used to bug me until I remembered seeing the lesser piazze in Florence and how they, too, were used as parking lots by those patronizing the local merchants.

Incidentally, Cheesesteak, my stepdaughter is moving to NYC on Tuesday to start grad school at Columbia. Initially she’ll be renting quarters over an art gallery somewhere in Manhattan. To be honest, I wish I and the Wife Of Pithecanthropus were moving there too.

At least now we’ll have more of a motivation to visit, at least.

I grew up in a town of 2000 people, in the middle of Southern Ontario farm country. I’m sure it was quaint and homey, but there was absolutely nothing there for me to do. We were 25 or so miles from a large city, and when I got old enough, I used to hitch-hike there. So many places to go and things to see! Our little town got to be claustrophobic for me. Many of the people there had never been more than 30 miles from home and were proud of it. As I got older, I noticed how there were cliques to which you could not belong, and everybody talked about everybody else behind their backs. To give you a crystal-clear idea of what kind of place this was, the first black person we ever saw was in 1973. He was a police officer, and when he and his family moved there, he went door-to-door and introduced himself. He got the door slammed in his face a lot. Eventually, some local yahoos lured him out to an abandoned quarry on false pretenses and shot at him. As for me, somebody started a rumor that I was gay. I was beaten and attacked, had hoses sprayed on me and rocks thrown at me, FAG carved into my locker at school, I couldn’t make any friends or get a girlfriend. At the very first opportunity, I got out and I never went back. I moved to the city, where I could be anonymous and not run into anyone who had heard the rumors.

From the next city, it was 40 more miles to Toronto. That’s where I fell in love with cities. I lived there on and off for 12 years, then it was back to the previous city. I’d have wanted to have my wife emigrate to Canada so we could live in Toronto, but she was from Florida. This was the best option that had ever been presented to me, so I came here instead. I live in Tallahassee, and while it’s not Jacksonville, there’s everything here we need. I like it pretty well. The strange thing is that it’s hundreds of miles to go anywhere. It’s a city in the middle of nowhere. I’d live in Jax if I had the opportunity, but my wife grew up there and doesn’t like it much. So I’d never consider living anywhere smaller than TLH.

There’s an old, old song with lyrics that go something like “Once they’ve seen the bright lights of the big city, how are you gonna keep 'em down on the farm?”

I would most likly settle on the far out suburbs but not quite ural.

City is out unless there is no choice. I like my space and not being disturbed by neighbors. I also like natural surroundings.

To me (my humble O)

City - Leads itself to depend on public services for basic needs (water/sewer/transportation) and when these go down there is a major incident (and hence very well ‘protected’ (meaning protection against failure not terrorism but now I guess you can include that too). Also I feel that city living is somewhat removed from the ‘real’ world - Nature is beautiful and veal cutlets come from the store.

'Burbs - You are more self sufficent but still have the advantge of public services (rail systems, bus, water). If your own ‘systems’ break down you have backups available (most can walk or bike to public transit in the burbs if needed). Nature is nice but sometimes a PITA as it requires weekly mowing, and other gardening tasks and veal cutlets comes from the supermarket who gets is from some animal in the country.
County - You are the most self sufficent, because you have to. Public services are non-existant, you are responsible for your own transportation, you have a well which you supply power for water, and have a septic system which you maintain. If you have a real problem your neighboirs are the ones who might help out. Nature is the world in which we live and depend on for our life but also struggle against for our very lives. Veal cutlets come from Farmer John’s heffer named “Betti”'s 3rd calf this year.

I am gonna confess to being totally bourgeois and admit that I like the suburbs. I like space–we have 25 bookcases full of books, and I don’t want to get rid of them. I like being able to own a three-bedroom home with a little yard on a teacher’s salary without having to put myself in terrible finacial risk. My husband’s from Chicago, loves Chicago, but I can’t imagene paying what we pay now in order to have an apartment.

On the other hand, I like working in a city, so countryl life is out. I like teaching in an urban school, where my kids run the gamut from Somalian refugees to two-live-ins and a double-legacy to Duke WASPS. I like the freedom to realy innovate that is often missing in suburban schools, and I like that if I buy a six pack of beer at the grocery store, I don’t have to worry about whose parent is ringing me up and noting my debauchery. Furthermore, and frankly, I like the career options–in an urban school district I have many more career-building opportunities.

So since I have a compulsive need for space but want to work in an urban enviroment, suburbs it is for me. It’s a little boring, but it’s an established neighborhood with big trees and good schools, and while all the houses were exactly the same in 1960, they’ve put on a character over the years, and while there isn’t the close sense of community you get in quirky city neighborhoods, or the country, I have a rich community at my school and, thanks to the marvels of modern communication, still feel like I really play a role in the community of my home town. In a way, I’m releaved there isn’t a lot of community here–I haven’t time for anymore.

Smartini’s daughter checking in. As Mom covered, I grew up in the city and I’m grateful for it. I think my experiences, particularly in an inner city public school, prepared me for the world much better than the homogeneity of the burbs or the country. And I have to admit that the city had much to offer teenagers looking for something to do. How I managed to stay out of trouble, I’ll never know. And FTR, the house wasn’t that far out, but it did have more of a suburban feel. I don’t think any of my family totally adjusted to that.

Since then, I’ve always lived in the heart of any city I’ve called home. If I have to be in a city, I’m going to be in the center of everything. And I’ve loved it. Point me towards the historical district and I’ll find my next home. I currently live in the old general store for the county cotton mill.

All that being said, I’m headed out to the country. My heart is in the fields and I’m working my tail off to get there. I want it so bad that I cry every time I hear Tim McGraw’s song Where the green grass grows . And I don’t even like country music.

As for the suburbs, I don’t even like driving through them. Whenever I hear a suburbanite talk about the problems of a city (i.e.-traffic, overcrowding, high prices, crime, etc.), I wonder if they’ve taken a look at where they live. It’s the suburbs, not the city that makes me claustrophobic. Too bad I have to drive through them to get from the city to the country. :rolleyes:

I live in a small city that is 45 minutes away from a large city, and that is the way I like it. I can get most anything I need for daily living right here, and I go to the city for these things:

Big Library
Cool little independent stores
(I am not doing this alphabetically, just a coincidence)
Major League Sports
Car dealerships that are not Ford/Chevy
Art-house movie theaters

I could not deal with small town life. If I want to see the stars I go camping in the wilderness.

This thread highlights the differences between the US and Europe. I live in a small town in the country outside Rome, but I grew up in the center and suburbs of Rome. Everywhere I have lived has a strong sense of community, everywhere everyone I know lives has adequate public transportation. There is much less of a mall culture here, so there are very few places where you would have to drive to get your groceries. When I was unemployed, and stuck at home with a small child, I got cabin fever every so often, but I didn’t ever need to get in a car to get any of the necessities of life (apart from books - there has NEVER been a bokstore in this town).

When my daughter was small, living in a small town had definite advantages, but these annoy her more as she gets older. I work in the city, and I love coming home to the forest and clean air, and pavements you can walk on, but as time goes on living in the beautiful, buzzy center of Rome appeals to me more and more. Still, I probably wouldn’t do it: I love it here, and I like being part of a community.

Yes, but I think that it has more to do with geography than with culture.

In my state, I have been in towns that are literally a hundred miles and hours of driving from a movie theater. I don’t think there are many places in (Western) Europe that are like that.

I’m with CrazyCatLady on this one. I’m a country mouse and I think I’d feel too claustrophobic in a city.

I like having neighbors a field away. I love the Amish community and my small church where I have grown up my entire life with people I love. It’s nice to ride my bicycle and not worry about heavy traffic. And now that I’ve been driving, I like that I can drive down country roads and admire the scenery.

I’m another who can run into anyone and have them know my family somehow. Once, my SO and I accidentally gave a Wal*Mart cashier counterfeit money that had been given to us as change from a mall. When the cops came to speak with us, I discovered that one of the cops was a cousin’s brother-in-law. He was really nice to us after that, and we never did get in trouble for the money.

All my life, I’ve moved to progressively smaller and more rural places.

I started in a medium-sized city which was a suburb of one of the major California cities. Each time I’ve moved, it’s been to something smaller, until I now have the privilege of living in two places; a very small town, and a rural place outside of an even smaller town.

Cities scare me. I feel the presence of all those people stacked up on top of each other. The buildings overwhelm me; the smells and the sounds and the sights are just too much. But I’m not the sort of person who would enjoy the theatre, and I’m just fine with diner-type restaurants.

I’m OK in a small town (under 5,000 please). I don’t mind having only one grocery store to choose from. I like knowing what the special is going to be on any given day in the one restaurant.

I’m happier in a rural area. For some reason, the noise of the tractors and the crop dusters is nothing to the sirens and car alarms. There’s corn and cotton in between our place and the nearest neighbor’s, but we can still hear their dogs barking if a coyote is on his way through. When there was an accident on our corner, the helicopter landed in our yard. When there was a big tire fire, the whole town drove by to rubberneck.

I’ve only lived there a couple of years, but I love knowing people. I can’t go to town without seeing someone I know - waving from the gas station, chatting in the grocery store, meeting in the donut shop. I love the sense of connection; I haven’t felt that in any place I’ve lived since I left my hometown.

I like the suburbs, especially the small town I live in. Buildings aren’t allowed to be built higher than 4 stories, I believe, and all the neighborhoods are very grown in. It’s really pretty. My location is also nice because I live 5 minutes from a shopping center, and the longest I have to travel to do local shopping is probably about 15 minutes. It’s fairly safe around where I live, but I still woudn’t go walking by myself anywhere (I’m always afraid someone’s going to grab me, not due to personal experience or anything.)

I love going to large cities for a few days during a vacation, but by the end of the trip I always find myself feeling overstimulated. It is very convenient, though, to be able to get everywhere so easily. The food (in major cities like NYC) is also good. That’s a big plus in my book :D.

The country…well, to be honest, I can’t say. It would be nice to have a large yard I could roam in and, like others have said, it’s quite peaceful. That’s all I can say about it.

Why, are you afraid of racoons?

I just recently moved from the suburbs to the country. I love were I live, I have a 150 year old farm house and 14 acres. My neighbors are great. When I want hay for my horse I just drive over to my neighbor’s hay barn, help myself and leave a check in his mailbox. If I want a round bale I just give him a call and he’ll deliver it to my paddock the following day at no extra charge. Last night my horse got loose. This morning one of my neighbors stopped by to tell me he’d seen him about a half mile away. I can sit on my front porch at night and see a million stars. I can leave my house unlocked and not worry (of course, the two dobermans, german shepherd, airedale and standard poodle help with the feeling of security). I live an hour from Nashville, so it’s not terribly far if I want to attend a play or concert. I’m 20 minutes from a multi-plex if I want to see a movie. I couldn’t imagine living in a city where I couldn’t have my dogs. I have boarded my horse in the past and could again, but right now my dogs have 500 uninhabited acres to run on. I don’t have to worry about keeping them up - my street gets maybe 1-2 cars per hour and they don’t go terribly fast.


I second this question - they don’t demand your money or shoot at you. I take this line of reasoning from one of the previous posts, which started out with something about having unfortunate crime problems recently, but otherwise enjoying the city and feeling safer than elsewhere. What?

Everyone talks about the vibrancy of the city - I get the opposite feeling. City boulevards with drifting youth milling about in the middle of the day with nothing to do but cause trouble; shiftless unemployed bums hassling people for money. Cities always feel decayed to me.