Friday, July 28, 2017

What to Do When You’ve Picked the Wrong Suburb

For many city dwellers, leaving for the suburbs is a difficult decision, reached after a lengthy weighing of pros and cons. Imagine making the leap only to discover that you’ve picked the wrong suburb. Do you stay?

Switching suburbs after you’ve plunked down a hefty down payment and settled your children in school seems infinitely challenging, and indeed some recent transplants who have doubts about their new communities resign themselves to the idea that there is no such thing as a perfect suburb.

But for others, the gnawing sensation that something is not quite right pushes them to keep searching for another suburb, a better suburb, a place where they might actually feel at home. Maybe it’s the commute. Maybe the schools are too big or too small, or the town is too quiet or not quiet enough. Maybe what they thought was important — the big yard and the birds singing out the windows — was not so important after all. (...)

Moving to a new suburb may be the way to recapturing your identity, whether it’s somewhere where you can walk to dinner or a place with more like-minded people. But first, you should give serious thought to who lives in the town and what types of things go on there. Whom will you encounter when you walk your children to the park? Whom will you drink a beer with at the neighborhood block party? What do the mothers wear to drop-off, or will you see only nannies?

“Choosing a place to live is the single most expensive decision many of us ever make, and many of us make it mostly on intuition,” said Richard Florida, an urban theorist at the University of Toronto who studies demographic shifts, and is the author of “The Rise of the Creative Class” (2002). “We focus on house or yard size, but we don’t look around the town enough. What affects housing prices isn’t just square footage — it’s the value of what goes on in the community around the house.”

Sometimes just moving a few miles can make all the difference. (...)

The problem is that singling out what’s most important to you in a new town may be the biggest challenge of all. Dr. Florida said that we all have multiple sides of our personalities fighting for dominance, especially when it comes to choosing a place to live.

“You want your kids to go outside and play,” he said, “but you also want to walk to dinner. You’re in the gritty city and wish for a car, then you move to the suburbs and get a car and long for the gritty city. Nothing fits perfectly.”

And, he added, our ideas about what suburbs should look like are changing: “People don’t want their mother’s suburb, where there was tract housing and nothing ever happened. They want a suburb that feels more urban.”

by Brooke Lea Foster, NY Times |  Read more:
Image: Fred R. Conrad