Living in the suburbs is not as easy and convenient as many may think. I know that many people prefer it to living in the city but honestly for me it is the bane of my existence . I have been reduced to a life in the suburbs right after coming back to Canada from Korea. My parents were very nice to take me in for a few months. It is only temporary and maybe that is what makes it so difficult for me. Now that I’ve had a chance to try it out I will never buy a house in the burbs. Jonathan and I will be moving to the city very soon and I cannot wait because of the following reasons.
1. Cycling is painful
Some people have this weird misconception about cycling outside the city. They think the spotless streets are lined with trees and that there’s zero traffic. Everybody is friendly and lets you get ahead. Absolutely not true. The speed limits are at least 60 kph which means that cars go at least 70. Drivers in the suburbs have no idea what to do with cyclists. Some think that driving behind them at 20 kph is a grand idea while others pass you with one foot of room, and the occasional few honk and freak out because I don’t ride on the sidewalk. Everything about cycling in the burbs just turns me off. When I lived in the city I cycled everywhere and here I’m reduced to take the car to get milk or see the dentist. It’s just easier to take the car and I don’t like that. I’m turned off from cycling and that is the primary reason for point number two.
2. Too easy to get fat
In the city things are closer to you. When I lived downtown the liquor store was down the street, the convenience store was across the street, my favourite restaurant was just a 10 minute walk and I had to bike roughly 20 minutes to get to work. From where I am right now I have to either walk 30 minutes or drive 10 to get the closest grocery store. I’d be happy if I found a good restaurant within an hour’s walk. WTF is that about? What degenerate built this community? Whoever plans new suburban communities must only think about one thing, money. The planning is shit. It’s just all about how many housing units can I cram into this farm field. It’s completely infuriating. Anyway, getting back to getting fat. I don’t ride my bike, I don’t walk anywhere and I drive a car to get to Walmart. I’m just becoming incredibly unhealthy in this giant suburban house. If it’s healthy living you’re after, don’t live here.
3. Pay, pay, pay
So again, I’m not biking and I’m getting around with a car. Do cars run on free? Unfortunately not. Gas costs a lot of money. Especially when your parents have only a V8 engine for your disposal. Oh, you want to get downtown to play some board with your friends? That will be 40 bucks. Oh right, I’m also driving everywhere else so I’m wasting gas to get frigging milk. Intercity trains are incredibly expensive, just getting to work costs over 200 dollars a month. I love spending money on moving from point A to point B, it just adds so much meaning to my life.
4. Commuting is your life
More likely than not, if you have a nice house in the suburbs you work downtown. I did recently read that companies are opening more offices in the suburbs, but the amount of new offices is too insignificant to make a dent. Probably half of the folks are commuting from other suburbs to get there as well. Travelling downtown takes a lot of time. If you work a 9 to 5, be prepared to get up at least at 6:30am and you will probably get home 12 hours later. At the moment, I spend 1.5 hours travelling one way door to door every afternoon and morning. I love every second of it. I love freezing my bits off waiting for the train to pull up to the platform, I love hearing other passengers cough their lungs out or snore or when my train is stopped for 30 minutes while someone decided not to feel well on their morning commute. What I especially love to see is afternoon commuters actually running to their car to beat the gridlock out of the parking lot. Yes, there is also traffic in parking lots.
5. Not neighbourly
Whatever ideas that sitcoms or TV shows have put into your head, forget about them. There is no such thing as a friendly neighbour in the suburbs. I don’t even know what my neighbours look like. Everyone is just in their little bubble, trying to ignore everyone else the best they could. Sometimes I feel that my neighbours want to make everyone else’s life a living hell. The neighbours across the street make their guests parallel park on the street in such a way that I can’t even get out. After a big snowfall some of my neighbours shovel snow onto the road. Nobody says hello or even acknowledges your existence. It’s quite a welcoming scene actually.
6. The clutter
If you bought a house in the suburbs you probably got it because you want something really big. The problem with a big house is that you gotta fill it with stuff, once you’re done filling you just forget that you gotta stop. Big houses get cluttered very quickly. You will end up having so much stuff that you won’t be able to find what you need. I put down a hat in the living room about 3 days ago and I still haven’t been able to find it. Everything is just a giant mess. If you lose something your search area is spread out over 3 floors and 9000 rooms. You can just as easily lose yourself.
Psychologically, this is the worst reason of them all. Recently, I though that our car’s battery died and if we were not able to jump start it then all would have been lost. There is no way to get anywhere if you don’t have wheels. There’s a bus you can take, you may say. Well that bus runs twice a day and it costs 3.50 to take a ride. Also, I probably don’t have small change and I don’t have anyway of getting it because I can’t take a car to drive to a store or a bank machine. The reliance of cars to get around is just deafening. You literary can’t go anywhere if you don’t have one. I sit in my cluttered house because it’s too expensive to get anywhere and it takes way too much time. I feel as if I suddenly developed agoraphobia. The price to pay for a big and cheap house is just not worth it for me. Suburban living is just not my cup of tea.
Not everyone’s experience is the same. I have friends who adore living in the suburbs and the things it lets them do. Functioning garages filled with tools and cruising around at night on empty streets might be what they like. I love density and having people around me. I don’t like to feel that I’m living in a ghost town and that everybody around me just disappeared. I prefer my commute to be outdoors with the conveniences of the city around me. Just to have that I’m happy with a small apartment filled with just the things that I need.