Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Urbanism and the Generations

I've seen a lot lately about how Boomers and Millennials are abandoning the suburbs in favor of a more condensed, urban life. Haven't seen much about where Gen X stands on the subject.

When I was younger, I thought I'd move to a city and live in a loft and just be cool. But then I found a place - a smallish town of about 30,000 people 2 hours north of Detroit - that I just love. It's definitely not urban, but it's not country, either. Before I had kids, I liked it because the people here like to have a good time. Now that I have kids, I like it because it's just a little slower pace here - and the people still like to have a good time.

So I don't live in an urban metropolis or a suburb. I don't have a fancy car, but I do have a pretty big house that I love. I don't want to live in an urban metropolis or a suburb. I would like to take mass transit, but I don't want to live in a teeny tiny house in order to do it.

So Xers, what do you think we will do while all the Boomers and Millennials go to the big cities? Will we stay in our kinda big houses and turn into someone like that old guy the Brady Bunch met in the ghost town on their way to the Grand Canyon? Hanging on to our neighborhood col-du-sac and rambling crazy talk about going to Target in the old days to buy stuff. What do you think?


Unknown said...

We told our realtor, "We don't want to see our neighbors."

We don't. We're on 2 acres of land with woods. We are close enough to consider ourselves civilized but far enough away to keep to ourselves and not look weird.

It's not that we're antisocial, but we would rather socialize on our terms and not because our nosy neighbors want to host a block party.

Anonymous said...

Move to the city? Egads! I love my suburban neighborhood. Voted one of the safest cities in America! Not that I let my guard down regarding my kids, but I have a comfort level in my fenced in back yard, on my dead end street with my neighbors out walking and doing yard work and the umpteen kids playing in the front yards.

I do hope the Boomers and the Wireds (Y'ers) rehabilitate the dilapitated city. A rust belt city like ours needs all the help it can get.

Re: the green concept surrounding moving to the city - I recycle and someday I'll get a hybrid...

Anonymous said...

HAH! I opt for being the Brady Bunch eccentric from the ghost town. Actually, I wonder how long "we" (meaning society in general) will be able to maintain all the big box stores, restaurants, and strip malls galore with gas prices being what they are. No one can afford to shop, drive, spend, eat out, etc., the way we did even last year when we thought $3.50 per gallon was expensive. And let's not even talk about the people who have made really bad decisions, financially. And I include the credit card companies and banks, too. How our country will manage to stay afloat remains a mystery to me. I like the idea of more mass transit, and do wish that there was more within a (safe) walking distance from where I now live--if my kids didn't have to cross a major five-lane road with crazy drivers during peak traffic times, they could walk to school, for instance. But, I personally like living in my new neighborhood, having lived in "B.F.E." for nearly 15 years and having to drive a minimum of 50 miles to buy shoes, socks, and underwear for my kids. Having grown up where Suzanne now lives, I can say that this is as "big city" as I'd like to get! I think it has the best of both worlds. "country" is either an hour north, or just a ride out to corn country, to the west, about 30 minutes. One thing I've noticed, and learned about living in a neighborhood again, is that people practice having "invisible blinders" when you're in your yard. If they want to acknowledge you while you're in your yard, they'll honk as they drive by, or call out "hello." Otherwise, everyone politely pretends you aren't there, so as not to interfere with the privacy of your personal space. Unless you call out and wave, they'll keep on their merry way. So far, it seems to work, and I've learned not to take offense. It's not personal--people here have different ideas about "intrusion." is a link to an article I wrote on the subject of neighborhoods, that was published in a 2003 issue of 'Neighbors: Let's Stay in Touch.' Kathy

Anonymous said...

I live in the city I have a 20 minute commute to my downtown office. My neighborhood neighborhood has tree lined streets and kids running around and I know all my neighbors.

I live in Eastmoreland, in Portland, it's one of the first planned neighborhoods in the city, there's a public golf course to the west, Reed College to the north, and a 20 mile bike trail (Springwater Corridor) along the southern edge. There's three parks, not counting the elementary school field where everyone plays with their dogs.

I love living in the city, and I love my neighborhood. I am jealous of Laurie's three acres thouh :)