Is it possible to have an ultra dense city that has a low cost of living?

NY mass transit may be great, but SF’s sucks donkey balls. Living in SF, a person could take an hour to get to downtown.

The posts of all the rural people on this thread have me scratching my head. For the longest time, we lived outside of a small town. Had to drive an hour out, to get any serious shopping done. Then we lived in the suburbs- plenty of shopping, but culturally dead as a doorknob. Currently we have a house smack in the middle of a ~230k-person city. City living trumps country living, methinks.


  1. Rush hour traffic- generally bad idea to try to drive anywhere around those hours.
  2. Noise. We live on a major street with all sort of emergency vehicles passing by, multiple times a day.
  3. General lack of respect for private property (cars rummaged through if left unlocked, vandalism, trash, etc.). Doesn’t help that we’re in an old block of row-houses, surrounded by apartment buildings- most people rent out here.
  4. Crime- though that’s very conditional/regional. If you don’t go out alone at night/don’t stumble around drunk/avoid certain parts of town, you’re generally fine.
  5. Got to be prepared to pay for parking.
  6. City’s lack of maintenance on certain things (potholes take a while to fix, and we’ve got a running battle to get the trash removal people to do regular pick-ups at the local dog park.)
  7. Tiny, tiny back yard.


  1. A good grocery store 2 blocks away.
  2. Post office and veterinarian 7 blocks away.
  3. One of the better hospital complexes in this state, within 5 minute drive. (~12 blocks).
  4. Numberless restaurants within easy walking distance.
  5. More galleries/museums/etc within 10 minute drive than you can shake a fist at.
  6. Festivals/concerts/other performances/marathons… seriously. You name it- chances are, it’s happening somewhere in the city this week.
  7. Civic organizations and non-profits by the dozen. Also, there’s no longer a need to drive an hour to join a geeky club/meet-up.
  8. A river 2 blocks down from us, with white-water rapids ~10 blocks down. Amazing park/trail system around the said river. (And, heck, the park system in the city in general. There’s 3 large-ish ones within a 10 block radius of us that I can think of; probably more.)
  9. A rather large and respectable dog park within 15 blocks.
  10. People of all walks of life, rubbing elbows. We’ve met some really cool friends out here.

I wouldn’t lie, the noise took about a year to get used to, and I still sleep with ear-plugs… but we’re down to 1 car in the household, both work from home, and are finding this city living experience pretty darn convenient in general.

So, you think there’s something magical about living in a city that turns conservatives into liberals; and you want to “grind … xenophobias and cultural purity to dust” by making everyone live alike and demonizing those who choose a different (rural) lifestyle. Okay…

Ever notice that small towns have exactly zero buildings >4 stories?

The only reason to build UP, instead of out is the extreme cost of land.
If city lots were as cheap as farmland, there would be no cities - just sprawling villages.

It really saddens me that there is this great hostility between rural and urban.
The other side isn’t really Satan Spawn (they just vote like it :wink: ).

So, by definition, no, cities will never be as cheap as hinterland.

Before WWII, the US was mainly agrarian. The war simply compressed what had been a slow trend - kids leaving the farm to find work in the city. See Superman legend. Clark Kent was raised on a farm and went to the city to work on a newspaper.

The shame of the Trump lie was that he told these people that they could just stay where and as they were, and he would make the money come to them.

The Dust Bowl of the 30’s + mechanization of the farm = NO JOBS on the farm.

My brother revolted from the movement and set up his family (they are straight out of 1940 culturally) in a farm house on the edge of tinytown WI.

They had 3 kids - one a bit brighter than father, one much brighter, and one “old egg” who got through only because both her parents worked in the school.

1st went into IT at a regional campus in smalltown. Promoted to slightlybiggertown.
2nd moved straight to big city and planted deep roots
3rd tried 3rd rate college; flunked out (parents couldn’t protect her). She is in a nearby smalltown.

That is pretty much a microcosm of the rural = urban model.

Average rent in Tokyo was $802 USD per month but, calculating from the sqm figure given, the average Tokyo apartment size was 350sqft. Apartments more typical of American cities are available. You can definitely find $10,000 a month luxury apartments but there are plenty of good options also if your budget is $1500 as a single individual.

I do think there is something to the hollowing out of rural areas due to the sorting mechanism of higher education and the shift of rewards to higher skilled people. NY and other major population centers tend to be more magnets of people with greater skills, and as those people leave the smaller towns the leftover residents are more of the… slag.

It sounds awful but I think that is part of the issue in terms of demographics.

This is why I think it should be on the agenda of every liberal to find a way to lift up the boats of all people, including the members of society that are less gifted. I have zero hope republicans are up to the challenge, Ryan is more of a randian than anything else, are his taxes low so he can keep more of his own money? Then problems solved.

I think the most straight forward solution until we have a way to engineer a solution into mankind is a universal basic income. But there the issue is that unlike more homogeneous societies, when there are large immigrant populations that do not look like the majority, the majority is increasingly hesitant to sign off on some of their own tax dollars potentially going to help “those” people. Even if it would boost up plenty of members of their own group as well.

It’s the black/latina welfare queens, meanwhile the rural areas are being increasingly hollowed out.

Now that Craigslist is in small towns, it is possible to see rental rates in cities and towns.

In my experience, there are HUUUUGE price differentials.

The LA metroplex might be instructive - high density urban inside the bowl*; increasing rural eastward.
Now that LA and San Diego have sprawled into each other, I suspect that there is no more “cheap” land within 50 miles of the ocean.

    • LA proper is surrounded by large hills (San Andreas Fault). The “grapevine” is a huge interchange of roads funneling down into passes through the hills.

If everybody lived in cities … who’d grow the food ?

Even if you could grow the food, how do you get the food to the city without burning fossil fuels ?

If the 80% of people who live in cities voted for Hillary, she’d be the next President.

There is no nice way to put this. The OP’s viewpoint is incredibly bigoted, ignorant, authoritarian and biased. I grew up in an a very rural area, went to college in New Orleans and then graduate school at an Ivy League school, lived in Boston for three years and then moved to the Boston exurbs.

I am a tolerant person but my personal idea of hell is being packed in with a bunch of high maintenance urbanites. Having lots of woods, fields and farm festivals at my disposal is even more important to me than trendy ethnic restaurants are to most people that live in cities. In my experience, people that live in cities hardly ever even do the things that are available to them (see the number of New Yorkers that have never been to the museums or even the Statue of Liberty).

It is also complete bullshit that rural areas don’t have diversity. My tiny little hometown in Louisiana was about 41 - 55% black and white respectively with the rest Hispanics and other groups. My current home outside of very progressive Boston is 93% white and the rest made up of successful professionals from other groups. It also happens to be one of the safest cities in the U.S. and was the absolute safest two years ago. Diversity can be good but diversity for its own sake is not a reason.

If you want to try to force people like me into mega-cities, that is just absurd. You are proposing abandoning over 90% of the land area in the U.S. for no other reason other than you don’t like “those people”. There is a name for that and it certainly applies to you if what you say is the way you really feel.

Congratulations Salvor. Attitudes like yours are one of the biggest reasons that we now have a President Trump.

No, attitudes that are infinitely more common in rural areas vs cities are why we have a president Trump. That is where the weight of republican support is, people who literally prefer to live away from civilization. That does something to the psyche of people and make them more conservative. Solution? Make the cities even more of a draw to siphon off even more of the rural population. There is no force being proposed here, no authoritarianism, but that is who the rural population voted for, the authoritarian. I think you need to look at your neighbors, not me. THEY are the ones that put Trump in office, they are not agentless automatons, now its the white working class that are the cripples that have no control over their own behavior and thoughts?

I suspect if more of them lived closer to and within population centers, they’d feel less embittered.

You obviously have no experience with rural America because almost all of your statements in this thread are delusion. There is tons of diversity in rural America and even a whole lot of liberals that choose to live there. The type of ignorance you keep repeating is where much of the disconnect is coming from. Sure, there are problems in some areas but you would sound much more reasonable if you proposed helping to fix those rather than trying to depopulate rural areas to reprogram the people that don’t agree with your preferences. Again, there is a name for that.

Let me make this very simple. Very educated people choose to live in rural areas too for lots of reasons. Is it impossible for you not to understand why someone would want to be surrounded by nature on their own land in the Rocky mountains on lots of land versus paying even more for a walk-up apartment in Manhattan, Brooklyn or San Francisco. Believe it or not, some people like space and nature over crowds of people and Broadway shows that they will never go to.

I technically live in the Boston area but in a smaller town exurb. I work in one even farther away. I value the wild turkeys and deer in my yard much more than the prospect of any new restaurant, sporting event or concert. I would move to an even smaller and more rural area if I could.

You need to step out of your bubble and learn a little tolerance for people that have different preferences than you do.

Your use of the word “civilization” here is the same as that of the old missionaries who felt it their duty to travel to foreign lands and bring civilization to the natives (i.e. change their way of life so that it conforms to your own, superior way).

Where to you plan to get your food?

Why do you want to have millions of neighbors?

I live in Nevada and if I had to live anywhere else it would be Wyoming.

I would think “bare essentials” covers farming, which really doesn’t require many people.

Yep to all of that.

No need for that. I drive by a grocery store every day. A tiny bit of planning is all it takes.

Also drive by these every day. They are about 20 minutes away. We don’t get delivery of any sort, but we fixed that with getting a UPS box. Easy peasy. I’m tempted to completely drop my USPS box.

Brand new hospital right next to where I work. 35 minutes away so emergencies are a bit more problematic.

Yeah, that’s nice, but it also means that your in the middle of a congested area. Not worth the trade off for me. Not even close. And anyway, I like cooking at home.

Ok, that’s nice. But how often do you go to the same museum? The view off of my deck is worth the trade off.

Lots of that in town for me too. It’s only 20 minutes away. Seriously, it’s a world famous ski resort, LOTS of stuff to do if you so choose.


I live in the Rocky Mountains and have a small river in my yard. My property backs up to the White River National Forest. 2,500 miles of trails.

See above. The White River National Forest is 2.5 million acres. It’s literally my back yard.

I’d rather not be ‘rubbing elbows’. Though the ‘neighbors’ are nice. See 'em a few times a year. That’s plenty.

May not be for you, but fits me perfectly.

There is no physical reason why living in a city would be expensive. In fact, the higher the population density, the more energy-efficient and cheaper it is, per person. The only reason it’s expensive to live in a city is because of finite supply of land and high demand. In other words, it’s expensive because people already want to live there.

People may not enjoy being in a crowd, but for many people, it is offset by the convenience of living close to work, public transport, being close to shops and other businesses and services, not having to drive their kids to school, having a daycare center within walking distance, etc. And they could easily go out to the countryside on weekends if they can’t stand being in a city all the time.

For what it’s worth, you did miss a pretty major plus while nitpicking the positives of city living. We -walk- to all those places in a few minutes, rather than sit in a car for 20+. (As for going to the same museum multiple times, considering the field I’m in, that does happen on a regular basis.)

Anyway, think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. :slight_smile:

:shrug: Well I do have to drive to work. In doing so I drive by anything I need. Once I’m home, it’s very, very rare that I need or want to go out again. Well I do walk the dog every day. The National Forest is 200 feet out my door. So I do walk to that :wink:

I don’t think this dividing line between liberal and conservative is being a rural and urban distinction. Northwest Oregon is liberal, both rural and urban; Eastern Oregon is conservative, both rural and urban; the State of Jefferson is a fairly mixed bag, both rural and urban.

Here it seems strictly based on economic polices, The Donald promises to open up the forests for timber harvest, so Jefferson is voted for him, both urban and rural will do better once the lumber mills are running again. NW Oregon wants to export their products to China without paying tariffs, so they voted for Hillary and hope some new TPP gets enacted.

But then again, just carrying Portlandia is all a candidate needs to carry all of Oregon … and they may still be rioting there over this recent election … blue as blue can be without being violet …