>> Sunday, August 2, 2009
Sometimes on the weekends, I ramble about thoughts I've been having that week. Feel free to comment, add to my thoughts, or disagree with anything I say. But please remember that I don't like being called an idiot, even if I'm being one. So keep your comments respectful.
This week I've been thinking about where and how people choose to live. I don't mean like what part of the country. More like, urban vs. suburban vs. country. Big house vs. medium house vs. small house. Apartment/condo vs. townhouse vs. single-family home. Etc.
First some background on me:
I have lived everywhere. I have lived in small towns, medium cities, and large cities. I spent my childhood in the suburbs, my teenage years in the country, and currently live a mile from Raleigh's downtown. I've lived in small houses, large houses, dorm rooms, apartments, and townhouses.
My husband and I both spent most of our lives in small towns, and both of our parents currently live out in the country. When we lived in the DC suburbs, we constantly talked about buying some land in the country, building a passive solar home, and starting a small homestead.
Now we are in the city, and we love it. We love being able to walk everywhere and being so close to so many forms of entertainment. But when we visit our parents, our minds inevitably wander back to that dream of having some land in the country, and we end up in that never ending debate - buy a house in the city or the country?
It will be several more years before we'll be able to buy a house again, so I'm sure the debate will continue for awhile. But what we know for sure is that we never want to live in the suburbs again. We are just not suburb people. We love the buzz of the city and the tranquility of the country. We do not enjoy the monoculture of the suburbs. We do not enjoy long drives in traffic jams. We are not fans of McMansions, especially in neighborhoods where all the houses look the same. And we do not understand the appeal of carefully manicured lawns.
But I know that there are many, many, many people who choose to live in the suburbs. So I've been thinking about why. Why do people choose to live where they live?
Here are a couple of things that brought these thoughts to mind:
- No Impact Man wrote a great post about why he supports a less impact life, and in the original post, he wrote (among other things) that in the future he hopes to be able to say, "I am glad we've stopped building suburbs, which make people unhappy." Several people commented that they live in the suburbs and are very happy, so he scratched out that line.
- Grist points to a press release about a so-called environmentalist who has built a "6,700 square foot spectacular 'green' home."
- We got caught in a massive traffic jam out in the country last week, and we were stopped for an hour in front of a bunch of homes set way back from the road. And between each house and the street was about 2 acres of lawn. No trees, no landscaping, no gardens of any kind. Just lawn.
- What is the appeal of the suburbs? Why do so many people choose to live there?
- Can a 6700 square foot house really be called green? Why do people want such big houses?
- What is the appeal of huge lawns? Why do people like them?
- As we move toward more sustainable lifestyles, will our houses have to get smaller? Will our lawns have to get smaller? Or will innovation enable us to maintain our current lifestyles?
- How can we preserve what people like about the suburbs while still moving toward more sustainable lifestyles?
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