city living... WTF?

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KevinW
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by KevinW »

Here are the reasons I prefer cities:
- All necessities are within comfortable walking distance: grocery, farmer's market, pharmacy, library, hardware store, restaurants, transit hub, etc. Practically anything you could want is within a few miles: airport, hospital, butcher, martial arts, etc.
- As a consequence car-free or car-light living is very doable. I am uncomfortable being literally dependent on cars since they are expensive and difficult to DIY 100%. I am comfortable relying on walking and bikes.
- Resources for obscure activities are available. If you suddenly develop an interest in, let's say, capoeira or playing pipe organs, you'll be able to find people and shops to do that with. In rural or suburban areas a lot of activities are simply off limits.
- Related to the prior point, I like the feeling of opportunity and excitement that comes from being in a dynamic area with a lot of people coming and going, businesses starting and changing, and being surprised by new things. Being in a static environment where things change slowly if at all, makes me feel old.
- Bigger local market on craigslist, freecycle, and thrift stores. It's easier to find, buy, and sell used goods.
- To Ego's point, infrastructure like roads and buildings are shared among more people and so utilized more efficiently. Makes those things less expensive on an individual basis and is greener.
- Close to a major airport which makes travel easier.
- Culture such as museums, theaters, music venues, university events, etc. is at hand. I actually don't use these very much except when hosting guests, but there's still helpful for that.

JohnnyH
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by JohnnyH »

Some counters to KevinW.

*Town of 2k people, I have the following in walking distance: 2x grocery, farmer's market (in season, but aren't they all?), 2x pharmacy, library, restaurants, hospital, 2x butcher, 2x hardware, martial arts... probably other stuff, I don't pay attention to.
*Car free living is totally doable; I drive maybe 3,000 miles a year, mostly for trips and other things in this post... My vehicles don't depreciate (old), have a carrying cost of about $30/month and enable me to do more work.
*Obscure activities: you are definitely correct here... But I have [relatively] obscure interests and still get by... I might drive 80m for a club twice a month (but certainly multitask when I'm there)... *Might be an introvert thing, but I generally learn better on my own, and prefer to practice on my own 80% of the time. Do other INTJ find the same, or am I doing this out of necessity?
*Craigslist: I routinely plan trips to cities up to 200m away for the proper craigslist deal... Vibrant craigslist is nice, but I still reap most of the benefits for the few things I want.
*Airport is 45m away... However, there is 0 traffic and TSA takes 5m and they actually treat you like a human being... I'm out the door to sitting in the airplane in less than 40 minutes. Even if you lived in the terminal you couldn't match that in most major airports.
*Culture: I have all these things within driving distance... I like that they're there, but I don't desire more than a few times a month... I LOVE museums, and don't mind traveling for them. But, they're pretty static and I don't feel the need to live by most of them.

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jennypenny
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by jennypenny »

My aunt and uncle lived in Seattle for years. When they retired they wanted to move to someplace quieter, but didn't want to give up the benefits of living in the city. (they are definitely drawn to the culture/restaurant scene) They decided to move north of Seattle, but spend one weekend a month in the city. They go in for 3-4 days, visit with friends, see a concert, do a little shopping, and then go back to their peace and quiet for the rest of the month.

I think it's a nice arrangement.

Seneca
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Seneca »

JohnnyH wrote:Some counters to KevinW....
I have been tempted to do a list like this for where I live a couple of times. There are lots of areas in the US where you can be rural, yet still walk or cycle to grocery/library/resturants and have fairly modest drives to airports and "culture".

It's 3mi to everything except a mall or "cultural" stuff from my house. I find some space between myself and lots of nice resturants a good thing, though am happy we have great Mexican food. :oops:

@Jenny- that sounds like a wonderful compromise.

JohnnyH
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by JohnnyH »

jennypenny wrote:They decided to move north of Seattle, but spend one weekend a month in the city. They go in for 3-4 days, visit with friends, see a concert, do a little shopping, and then go back to their peace and quiet for the rest of the month.

I think it's a nice arrangement.
I agree, I think it's ideal... Retired people, so smart. :D
Seneca wrote:It's 3mi to everything except a mall or "cultural" stuff from my house. I find some space between myself and lots of nice resturants a good thing, though am happy we have great Mexican food. :oops:
I agree, even small populations that are relatively concentrated (not in terminal decline) have everything they need within walking distance... I also agree on restaurants ;) , having tasty and easy food around me is not necessarily a good thing. To be honest, outside of steaks, the restaurants near me are pretty meh... But, I just don't want/need good restaurants for more than a few times a month. Similarly, I don't have world class museums or cultural attractions within driving distance... But what is within range, I still find sufficiently interesting. And I have made about half a dozen trips in the last 10 years to see specific attractions in major hubs... To be honest I doubt most people in cities with world class venues visit them more than even once a year, over a period of 10 years.
KevinW wrote:- Related to the prior point, I like the feeling of opportunity and excitement that comes from being in a dynamic area with a lot of people coming and going, businesses starting and changing, and being surprised by new things. Being in a static environment where things change slowly if at all, makes me feel old.
I think this hits it on its head... Even I feel this, and am not sure why... Cities are a party, and everyone is invited. Cities feel like excitement and growth, small towns often the opposite. But I think this is just a feeling, and not based on anything rational.

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Ego
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Ego »

JohnnyH wrote:
KevinW wrote:- Related to the prior point, I like the feeling of opportunity and excitement that comes from being in a dynamic area with a lot of people coming and going, businesses starting and changing, and being surprised by new things. Being in a static environment where things change slowly if at all, makes me feel old.
I think this hits it on its head... Even I feel this, and am not sure why... Cities are a party, and everyone is invited. Cities feel like excitement and growth, small towns often the opposite. But I think this is just a feeling, and not based on anything rational.
That same point caught my attention as well. It seems rational to me. Growth requires change. We are all influence by our environment. A rapidly changing environment provokes more personal growth than a stagnant one. As we know, stagnation is a myth. There is either growth or decline. Stagnant is the thing people in decline call themselves. Peace and quiet sums it up well.

Seneca
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Seneca »

Some small towns change and grow too, and big cities stagnate and decline.

I'm more worried about the city trying to incorporate us than I am a decline, but there is less bustle than the Silicon Valley....

Chad
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Chad »

I grew up in the country near a small town (4k population) and now live in a major city. For me, I prefer either living in the middle of no-where or in the middle of everything. Suburbs seem to have the worst of both worlds: neighbors, but not really neighbors, quiet, but not really quiet, can't walk anywhere, but still have traffic, a yard big enough to require actual work, but not big enough to actually do anything serious, big box stores, mostly chain restaurant/bars (yes, I spend a little for a night out or two a month), low culture, too far from work (at least 80% of my jobs have been location dependent and better opportunities in larger population areas). Plus, I get more energy from the city or country, but not the suburbs.

Obviously, you can like living in suburbs all you want. I'm not critiquing that. Just giving you why I don't.

JohnnyH
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by JohnnyH »

Very well put, Chad, great post.
Ego wrote:That same point caught my attention as well. It seems rational to me. Growth requires change. We are all influence by our environment. A rapidly changing environment provokes more personal growth than a stagnant one. As we know, stagnation is a myth. There is either growth or decline. Stagnant is the thing people in decline call themselves. Peace and quiet sums it up well.
But the thing is, most of the "big" cities have mostly peaked. There's the trendy, expensive, competitive, densely populated [creamy] center, surrounded by 20x the area of various shades of decline. Not startling decline like small towns in the midwest, but 1.6 people per 3 bedroom/2 bath, retirees/pensioners watching fear based "news" tv, decline... It actually seems like the business focus of urban areas is 80% superficial, IMO.

Meanwhile, my small town is not declining... I looked for info about patents filed small town vs urban area and was unsuccessful... Professionally, the geographic distance is less and less of an issue... Change might not be detectable to the naked eye.

There has always been a media bias that small towns are only to be escaped, that they provide no excitement, no opportunity... Simple numbers aside, I think this might be an archaic, pre-internet notion to be rejected.

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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by jacob »

Cosmopolitan doesn't mean city-favored. It means non-nation favored, citizen of the world.

I fear all such sentiments become anecdotal as they're based on personal history or preferences. I grew up in the BFE (3M from the nearest 5k city, 10M from the nearest 50k city, and 20M from the nearest 250k city) mind you in a country where a family only has one car (if that) and gas is $10/gallon---so take it from me, under those circumstances, 20M is quite far, 10M is doable, and 3M is still something you plan for), population 50-100 where those of my teenage age group's largest ambition was to drive a tractor and the idea of fun was to drink yourself senseless at a "barn-party". I spent most of my teenage years home, alone, in front of my computer.

Since then I have lived at the perimeter of a (the) 250k city (undergraduate, fun stuff, probably a lifetime peak in terms of social life). The center (2 blocks from city hall) of another 250k city.---Here we're talking Euro-cities, so close and compact without sprawl. A US 250k city (total sprawl!), a US 60k city (sprawl again), and lately Chicago (8M from city-center), probably a second peak in terms of social life.

I've learned that big means something different depending of which continent, you ask. I guess, due to sprawl, the conversion factor is 4-8 .. like a Euro-city sized 250k feels like a US city of 1M. Just something to keep in mind.

The key point (for me) of cities is concentration of people. Sure, there's the internet, but more things get done---serendipitously---face to face. As mentioned above, it's just way easier to find people on the same wave-length or bump into people and get new ideas ... because there are always new people.

(I might be introverted, but it's not by choice as much as it's a lack of interesting people to talk to.)

The downside, for me, about cities is that I don't give a *thing* about museums, nightlife, and the likes... the lack of green and the congestion of cars is crushing to say the least.

Unfortunately combing lots of interesting people with abundant green space is $500k-1M+ expensive, unless, of course, we can decide on ERE-city. Hint, hint!

For those reason, I've always seemed to gravitate towards the perimeter of medium-sized cities.

JohnnyH
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by JohnnyH »

Great point by Jacob; EU vs US size. Area wise 1 million in EU = <100k in parts of [western] US... Maybe 350k east of Mississippi (I am not an expert, but have noticed a large difference)?
jacob wrote:The key point (for me) of cities is concentration of people. Sure, there's the internet, but more things get done---serendipitously---face to face. As mentioned above, it's just way easier to find people on the same wave-length or bump into people and get new ideas ... because there are always new people.
This accurately describes my frustration with small towns... And my fear I might have wasted some of my youth by living in them.

@Jacob: In your opinion, the opportunity for the random collaborations outweighs all other considerations?... Like another decade working to afford the costs?

Again, I am envious of people who know their life's calling so they can build their networks early and move wherever they please!

Chad
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Chad »

JohnnyH wrote:Again, I am envious of people who know their life's calling so they can build their networks early and move wherever they please!
I share your envy.

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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by jacob »

@JohnnyH - Again, this will depend on what [how common] your interests are and what your strength as a facilitator and bringing people together is. My interests are uncommon and I'm not a great facilitator (IRL), so big cities makes it easier for me. I actually do not consider my introversion such a great thing, for me. I suspect I'm more extrovert than I test---if only I could find more people on the same wavelength as me.

That said, I can't wait to get out of the city!!

My worry is that after having been out of the city for several years, I would probably want to come back.
The grass is always greener and eventually we take our current lawn for granted.

My hope is that I can find some Goldilocks location. Or convince enough people to "get where I am" (under the assumption that I picked wisely) that we can create ERE city. Like semi-rural but with many interesting people. Or discovering the next Portland, OR or whatever.

Moving wherever I please has been quite formative for me. I went to school with people who have yet to move more than 2M away from where they grew up---for whom a trip to another country is a trip of a lifetime; who think that me living within an hour from San Francisco was the coolest thing ever. I could have ended up like that save by pretty much whenever someone has offered me a big change, I've accepted. I've only said no once. That was for a position in Canada and it was rejected because I just applied for US permanent residency (If I leave the country for more than 6 months inside a year, it's considered abandoned :-P ). In retrospect, it might have saved my physics career, but who knows... There's a hypothesis that one's life only has a handful of big choices that decide almost everything. Whenever (minus that one instance) I've run into one of those, I've went along.

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Ego
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Ego »

Another important element of big cities is that they are populated by those emigrated there. Some come from different parts of the country and other come from different countries. There is something about the immigrant mentality that is somehow shut-off or minimized by the homogeneous nature of small towns. It is as if the difference is wrung out of the person who is different. They are made to conform. In cities when different "ways" collide they make beautiful mosaics.

Riggerjack
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Riggerjack »

@ c40,
"George - in the Midwest we have regular sunshine. It is very nice! . Depending on the specific area, there are nice parks/forests. In Wiscobsin I lived 15 minutes from a huge park that I could go spend an entire week hiking through"

Not to hijack, but this reminds me of the time when, as a boy, the clouds parted, and I saw the sun. It was like the moon, but even brighter, and warm, like being near a fire. Then the radiation burns hit. This is so common in the rest of the world, they have a name for it: sunburn. I don't know why anyone would expose themselves to that every year!


As to hiking a week in a park, you should come out west and see some real parks, although, the ones I'm thinking of are definitely rural. Urban Parks here seem to be just that, urban, and pruned. Fine for Frisbee golf, I guess.

lilacorchid
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by lilacorchid »

@JohnnyH - It was trial and error for us. We actually bought the quartre of land out in the middle of nowhere (summer road access only), near a village that had a school for when we started a family, and about 50km from what passes for a city around here. We were all gung ho to go but kept being met with road blocks, some in the form of locals. And given that it wasn't that far from where we were both brought it, it just reminded us why we didn't return home after being out for a while. We eventually sold the land, broke even, and were wiser about what we want to accomplish.

The city is great for becoming a small fish in the vast colourful ocean. I feel more freedom to be myself in the city. I have made some unconventional choices in my life, and I don't miss being the weirdo in the mostly homogenous small fishbowl. I have my weirdo friends here and now I don't feel like such an outcast.

Riggerjack
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Riggerjack »

@ego,
Another important element of big cities is that they are populated by those emigrated there. Some come from different parts of the country and other come from different countries. There is something about the immigrant mentality that is somehow shut-off or minimized by the homogeneous nature of small towns. It is as if the difference is wrung out of the person who is different. They are made to conform. In cities when different "ways" collide they make beautiful mosaics.

you seem to have some odd ideas about small towns. Here in western WA is nothing like that, for the most part. But our small towns and rural areas are growing. The one place I've felt this depressing vibe you allude to is in the wilkenson, carbonado area. That area was entirely dependent on coal and coke and timber. Then coal and coke went away, then the spotted owl killed off timber, and anyone with anything going on, got out. Those that were left made for a sad site. But this seems to be more of an issue of a self selected group being all that is left, after the party is over. I would expect that same vibe in Detroit and Rochester, NY. Whenan area is predominantly pensioners and welfare cases, I would understand not wanting to be there. But that's a growth cycle issue, not a population size/density issue.

Riggerjack
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Riggerjack »

So far, the best reasons for city living seem to be:
Art galleries are awesome if within walking distance, but aren't worth the drive.
You can get really good food, without having to learn to cook.
Spinach is cheaper in Asian markets. Let's just not talk about gardens...
City libraries are prettier.
Sharing roof/walls and gyms (and maintenance) can be cheaper than owning them (and maintenance) .
Serendipity.
Did I miss anything?

Riggerjack
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by Riggerjack »

More on that library thing. My local library is just a tiny little space, about the size of a small post office, but all the libraries in island and snohomish counties are linked up, with all the inventory moving wherever it is wanted. I go to the website, and almost anything I want will get to my branch in a few days. Seattle spent a fortune on their architectural masterpiece, so you can go hang out with the homeless, if that's your thing.
To me, a library is about the books, so the bigger the collection, and the easier to get what you want and move on, the better.
But if you want a pretty library, more power to you.

BlackRat
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Re: city living... WTF?

Post by BlackRat »

I prefer the country - we're about 20mins from a 100k town. I like the balance we have though, I I lived somewhere more isolated I think an internet connection would be even more vital.
But I do share interests with people here, gardening and growing food being the biggest ones. Many people around us work in town, or are retired... so I guess if everyone depended on the one industry (eg. growing wheat) it would be more homogenous and less interesting.
I've never lived in a big city, but I dislike the lack of space, I feel like I have less privacy, even though I'm more anonymous.

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