Love/Hate Relationship with city living. Anyone else feel this way?

  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 19, 2011 4:20 AM GMT
    I'm a city guy. I know my home city like my own hand -- know where to go, know how to get around it, am fully adept at city living. But there are times when i dream about a house in the burbs and the peace that would come with it.

    The latest thing that got me to thinking this way was that tonight, i took a walk to the local grocery store, which is only two blocks from my home (big plus for city living there!) and on the walk home, as i was carrying three shopping bags, a bum on a bike rode up to me and said he wanted to 'ask me a question.' As I usually do with bums like this, and since I was really annoyed he was bothering me as i was trying to listen to the gay XM station on my phone, i told him to get lost. He then got off the bike and started repeating he wanted to ask me something then started cursing at me. I then started bellowing at him to get the F- away, and a local homeless guy then ran over and also started shouting at him and chasing him over to the main street and i then started walking to a police car, but the guy then pedaled away. I thanked the nice homeless man and then finished my walk home.

    And i live in a halfway decent neighborhood!

    Sometimes I just feel like the city is cesspool. There's the city crime -- no one gets murdered in my neighborhood but there are muggings and such -- every place is crowded, there's nowhere to park, it's dirty, many people aren't very friendly, my neighbors don't shovel their walks when it snows, etc., etc.

    But then there's the fact that i can walk to my gym, my favorite restaurants and bars are less than a mile away, my boyfriend and i can go for a walk at night to the local yogurt shop or starbucks, i can drag myself out of bed in the morning and get to work within a half hour because of our (mostly) rapid transit, i can go for a jog along the lakefront because its only a half mile from my home, the neighborhood gardens are lovely, we can go to a concert downtown or the opera and be home less than an hour after the end of the show...But then i think of a house in the suburbs, with big yard for our future puppies, and not having to fight for parking or running into lines at every store, etc...

    I just don't know. I don't think this dilemma is specific to my city -- it may be something people think no matter what the city, be Chicago, Boston, Philly, Dallas, any of 'em, really. Anyone else think so? Or is it just that i'm getting old?

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    Aug 19, 2011 12:54 PM GMT
    Cesspool is the word that sums it up for me. We got out about 8 or 9 years ago after being in T.O for about 10
    Any city is a world onto itself and I think you can loose touch with reality pretty easily. Especially during the hot days of summer.
    When I go back to the old haunts I just think, eww it's dirty.
    Once out you get a whole new perspective.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Aug 19, 2011 12:56 PM GMT
    Love living in the country... I'm actually a "suburban kid" and have had both sides.... my horses, the fields behind the house with coyotes howling..
    But I couldn't be away from metro conveniences, so it's a healthy combination.
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    Aug 19, 2011 1:02 PM GMT
    I know how you feel.

    I have a love/hate relationship with cities. It's nice being accessible to culture, travel...gay boys, haha, etc. But there is something to be said for country living. Nothing like being able to see the stars and hear the crickets at night. The stillness of the countryside scares me during the day (Children of the Corn, anyone?), but it is so comforting at night.

    My sensibilities and instincts, though, are very very suburban. Strip malls and track housing make put me at ease.

    I compromise by living in a flat, spread out cities with sprawling burbs (Atlanta, Los Angeles) as opposed to a tall cities (San Francisco, New York). Although I'm jealous when I visit friends in tall cities and marvel at how the world is literally at their feet. Want a coffee? Walk downstairs and get one. Want brunch? Walk downstairs and meet up. Want to go to a bar and get shitfaced? Walk downstairs and walk down the street. I envy that.

    But I gotta have my space.
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    Aug 19, 2011 1:20 PM GMT
    Some of Washington is just like you describe Chicago, We live in a quiet part of the city, semi-suburban, and we deal with car thefts, break-ins, and the like. On the whole, I love city living though. Would never want to live in a small town.
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    Aug 19, 2011 1:51 PM GMT
    I love living in Los Angeles. My partner and I have a great house in the Hollywood hills above all the noise and craziness where we have coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and deer.

    When we want to have more city, we just either walk down or drive to all the restaurants, bars, movies, museums, weekend farmers market, and great shops.

    We are also so close to Disneyland, beaches, mountains, dessert. We have it pretty good here, the only thing that bites is the traffic, but that is city life.

    I don't think I could ever live in NY as much as I like it. I would feel like a rat in a maze. A week there 2-3 times a year is a blast.
  • tbeaux

    Posts: 419

    Aug 19, 2011 2:37 PM GMT
    Well I was born in Saint Louis, in a rural community up by north cities and north county. I grew up in Powersite Missouri, about 20 minutes away from the arkansas border. I had a bout seven neighbors. I've lived in Los Angeles, in the hollywood hills (my family's current residence). So I have had all kinds of livin' but you should look at country livin'. I don't really like the suburbs, they're to cookie cutter. But to have a nice country or antebellum house outside of a big city, maybe not something like chicago (one because it's up north, but it's TOO big to do this.) Atlanta is pretty good place for it, Savannah, Nashville, Memphis, Saint Louis, Kansas City. The gas is the biggest killer, but the beauty, tranquility, and peace are priceless.
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    Aug 19, 2011 2:43 PM GMT
    antelope saidSome of Washington is just like you describe Chicago, We live in a quiet part of the city, semi-suburban, and we deal with car thefts, break-ins, and the like. On the whole, I love city living though. Would never want to live in a small town.


    We live just across the river in Arlington along the Rosslyn-Ballston metro corridor. So we have a nice suburban existence with a big yard - a two block walk to metro, 4 stops to downtown - walking distance to our own restaurants, shops, movie theaters - a lower tax rate than the District - and none of the car thefts, break-ins and petty crime of the District. It's pretty much an ideal compromise other than that pesky problem of living in a purple state where the red is still in control.
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    Aug 19, 2011 2:46 PM GMT
    I grew up on a working farm. You can't walk to a coffee shop there.
    I will never go back.
  • laxdude25

    Posts: 604

    Aug 19, 2011 3:03 PM GMT
    I live in New York on the Upper West Side, right down the street from Central Park. Now I know that is now considered one of the City's prime and most expensive neighborhoods, but I know the city well enough to know that you can create many of the same positive aspects to our living situation in many places around NYC. I think where you live in a city and how you manage it is a huge factor. Let me take it from our dog's perspective.

    When we adopted our golden retriever/border collie mutt from a suburban shelter, the woman in charge was concerned about the dog's move to the big city from a house with a yard. She came to visit him, and changed her tune. He is in Central Park (850 acres, no lease required after 9pm and before 9am, and tons of dogs to play with and sniff butt) 4 times a day.

    The gripes about living in NY typically focus on housing and other costs, noise, lack of space, crime 1) Housing. It is possible to find/create relatively cheap housing in NY, even in good neighborhoods, but it takes an effort. We live in a old brownstone, that we got for not much since it was in lousy shape and in a complicated estate situation. I had to do a lot of reno work, but we now have a lot of living space with even a back garden for less than the price of a one bedroom apartment. 2) Noise: There are quiet neighborhoods in NY, and/or quieter locations within noisy neighborhoods. We wake up literally to birds singing in the morning. 4) Space: We are in Central Park or along the West Side Highway every day for biking or walking or soccer or lacrosse, or even kayaking or sailing in the Hudson. Great beaches are a boat or train ride away.
    5) General Cost: NYC has some of the most expensive stores and restaurants in the world. But it also has some of the least expensive and great stores and restaurants in the world. And there is a huge amount of cheap to free entertainment. 6) Other pluses. 24 hour city, with 24 hour public transit. Doesn't always work as smoothly as you would like, but pretty darn good for the price. Very low crime. My kids feel safe traveling the subway at almost any hour.

    So, shorter response. I think most cities can be great places to live, but it takes some work to figure out how to manage around the least attractive aspects.
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    Aug 19, 2011 3:25 PM GMT
    RunintheCity saidI grew up on a working farm. You can't walk to a coffee shop there.
    I will never go back.
    +1

    shoelessj, your first mistake was acknowledging the bum. I pretend they don't exist...even if they're in my face. They usually go away after a few seconds, while mumbling shit about "greedy rich dudes" as they go (and I live in a mid-low income neighborhood).

    The other complaints you have are just part of any large city. The long lines, the parking problems, etc. I've cussed out my fair share of people in lines and parking lots, and been cussed out as well. Then seconds later smile at other people who are nicer. The trick is being able to change moods in a split second as the need arises, without compromising your sanity.

    Of course, I'd love to live in the burbs; but the conveniences of urban living (everything within walking distance) outweighs the cost of driving everywhere from the burbs. Even in the burbs, you still have to deal with traffic, parking, and checkout line issues...more often, actually, because nothing is within reasonable walking distance.

    Oh yeah, and if you wanna get shitfaced, you have to pay for a cab if nobody is willing to be your babysitter designated driver.
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    Aug 19, 2011 3:27 PM GMT
    I have spent most of my life in Los Angeles and NYC. Always had a love hate thing going on with both. But the love always won out.
  • SomeSiciliano...

    Posts: 543

    Aug 19, 2011 3:35 PM GMT

    I totally feel what you are saying. Yes, the really aggressive panhandling is getting old and police looking the other way is frustrating. The criminal class knows where the money is and which neighborhoods have allot of foot traffic. Four years ago, I would walk around at 9pm and think nothing of it....now i have my earphones in (as a diversion) but tuner OFF so i can hear footsteps behind me and I avoid unlit areas. Rats the size of armadillos frolicking in the alleys...garbage cans that haven't been emptied since the 4th of July and the ugly fact that the city does not have the money to maintain public venues just add to the urban shabbiness.

    The flip side is I know (not necessarily like) my neighbors and we keep an eye on each other. Since walking/public transit makes more sense than driving...I fill up once every two months. I'm not really a big bar person...but when I get the urge, I have the 'straight' sports bar strip and the gay clubs within easy walking distance...not to mention coffee houses, all kinds of restaurants, etc. We can get killer Thai food at 2am on a Wednesday. From experience, I know i will not get that living in some Boca Del Vista Phase IV burb. Since the latter is more important at this point...i deal with the rats, the trash and the weeds.
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    Aug 19, 2011 3:37 PM GMT
    My house in San Francisco has a garden and garage so I'm good.
  • MagillaNectar

    Posts: 72

    Aug 19, 2011 3:47 PM GMT
    NYC - I just tell them I can't, I'm in a rush. Telling someone to get lost is pretty rude and is gonna get them angry. Whether you realized it or not, you probably made the situation worse with that remark.
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    Aug 19, 2011 5:11 PM GMT
    I was born and raised in Queensland . Queensland in the mid fifties , wasn't as developped as it is now , and fortunately , Queensland has stayed the same if you stay away from tourist spots or if you drive 15 to 20 km inland . I really enjoyed growing up in a country settings with Roo's walking thru your backyard . Because of my job , i spend a lot of time in big cities
    ( mostly near their airport ..Hahaha ) , but often go visit them .
    I couldn't live in a city like N.Y or Chicago or other large metros ........ or as a matter of fact in one of their suburbs . i found countryliving restful , relaxing ,, cleaner and so on .......
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    Aug 19, 2011 5:14 PM GMT
    Living in the suburbs is disgusting imo. So boring. Ugh.
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    Aug 19, 2011 5:19 PM GMT
    luvitohateit saidLiving in the suburbs is disgusting imo. So boring. Ugh.


    One man's boring is another man's peaceful.

    Love, love, love the burbs.
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    Aug 19, 2011 5:45 PM GMT
    laxdude25 saidI live in New York on the Upper West Side, right down the street from Central Park. Now I know that is now considered one of the City's prime and most expensive neighborhoods, but I know the city well enough to know that you can create many of the same positive aspects to our living situation in many places around NYC. I think where you live in a city and how you manage it is a huge factor. Let me take it from our dog's perspective.

    When we adopted our golden retriever/border collie mutt from a suburban shelter, the woman in charge was concerned about the dog's move to the big city from a house with a yard. She came to visit him, and changed her tune. He is in Central Park (850 acres, no lease required after 9pm and before 9am, and tons of dogs to play with and sniff butt) 4 times a day.

    The gripes about living in NY typically focus on housing and other costs, noise, lack of space, crime 1) Housing. It is possible to find/create relatively cheap housing in NY, even in good neighborhoods, but it takes an effort. We live in a old brownstone, that we got for not much since it was in lousy shape and in a complicated estate situation. I had to do a lot of reno work, but we now have a lot of living space with even a back garden for less than the price of a one bedroom apartment. 2) Noise: There are quiet neighborhoods in NY, and/or quieter locations within noisy neighborhoods. We wake up literally to birds singing in the morning. 4) Space: We are in Central Park or along the West Side Highway every day for biking or walking or soccer or lacrosse, or even kayaking or sailing in the Hudson. Great beaches are a boat or train ride away.
    5) General Cost: NYC has some of the most expensive stores and restaurants in the world. But it also has some of the least expensive and great stores and restaurants in the world. And there is a huge amount of cheap to free entertainment. 6) Other pluses. 24 hour city, with 24 hour public transit. Doesn't always work as smoothly as you would like, but pretty darn good for the price. Very low crime. My kids feel safe traveling the subway at almost any hour.

    So, shorter response. I think most cities can be great places to live, but it takes some work to figure out how to manage around the least attractive aspects.


    I grew up in the burbs and felt a sense of "urban isolation".

    I now live IN San Francisco and enjoy all of the wonderful things which you point out. I also do come in contact daily with those who are homeless, mentally ill, and such, but that's the way city life is. And, seeing the homeless, the mentally ill and other struggling members of our society gives me both a sense of gratitude for all which I have, and a sense of empathy and compassion for those who struggle and have less.

    I would never go back to the suburbs, and look forward to growing older on the streets of San Francisco. Maybe I'll get to be one of the crazy old codgers on the street providing amusement, entertainment, and "lessons" for those who come and pass.

    To the OP, "No thank you" instead of "Get lost" is probably a better way to address anybody who asks for anything. They are people too and have feelings just like anybody else.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 19, 2011 9:01 PM GMT
    TroyAthlete saidI know how you feel.



    I compromise by living in a flat, spread out cities with sprawling burbs (Atlanta, Los Angeles) as opposed to a tall cities (San Francisco, New York).


    Maybe that's the sort of compromise i should look to make some day. Thanks for your post.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 19, 2011 9:02 PM GMT
    luvitohateit saidLiving in the suburbs is disgusting imo. So boring. Ugh.


    That's what my friends who grew up in or have lived in suburbia have told me -- after a few days i'd die of boredom.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 19, 2011 9:03 PM GMT
    Alpha13 said My house in San Francisco has a garden and garage so I'm good.


    Hate you icon_wink.gif

    those three things together would be heaven to me.
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    Aug 19, 2011 9:32 PM GMT

    I grew up in a small town and I guess I romanticise country life.

    I'd love to live in a small city of no more than 250,000 people, buy an old dump of a house with a vegetable garden I could renovate and furnish, cycle or walk to walk.

    My own private Walden Pond.

    ]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden;_or,_Life_in_the_Woods