Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 57

Thread: Abandoning Suburbia

  1. #1
    Member tetrimbath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Clinton, WA
    Posts
    86

    Abandoning Suburbia

    I live on Whidbey Island, the site of four slides in the last year. It made me think about the "stability" of housing and its value as "real" property. So, I blogged about it. I think society is bifurcating: urbanization as people move in-city relying on infrastructure versus ruralization as people move towards self-sufficiency. Both can be paths to debt-free. But where does that leave, 3,000 square feet homes in suburbia?
    Just thinking, so I decided to pass it along.
    http://trimbathcreative.wordpress.co...ing-redefined/

  2. #2
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Offshore
    Posts
    10,612
    I more-or-less agree with James Howard Kunstler's take on Suburbia. In the future, at best a desert, at worst the Killing Fields.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    14,538
    I say this every time this subject comes up: I live in a modest custom-built house in a neighborhood of similar construction, with a small forest on my 100 sq ft lot and a much larger one within walking distance. I love, love, love my suburb. It's true it's not particularly walkable, but a short hike could get me to mass transit, a good grocery store and drugstore, and I drive so little it doesn't matter anyway. It makes up in sheer natural beauty what it lacks in urban grit. I've lived in a tiny resort town (350 gossipy souls), downtown in two cities (Portland and Bellevue), in central Portland, and in a couple of suburban neighborhoods, and my strong preference is for suburbs. The only thing hellish about them is lawn mowers, IMO.


    I doubt I agree with James Howard Kunstler on anything; his creepy sour personality could curdle milk at a hundred yards, I'm sure. What a nasty shriveled soul.

    ETA: Maybe I don't understand what constitutes the dreaded "suburban hell." I live within the city limits of an incorporated town with a recognizable downtown area, a library, and all the mod cons, as they say. I'm something like 12 miles from a big city--I can see it from my window, pretty close. If I'm missing something here, I don't know what it is.
    Last edited by JaneV2.0; 3-31-13 at 11:18pm.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    3,750
    Jane, I've hard Kunstler speak, and he is hilariously droll. I concur with his estimation of most suburbs. You happen to beina pretty sweet area, and the Eastside suburbs are improving immensly, IMO.

    I drive much less now that I live in the city than when I was on Lopez Island. "Self-sufficiency" is a non-concept to me. Even the most remote cabin on Lopez still relies on local infrastructure, be it roads, the library, etc. I love that community, and was a part of it for nearly 20 years, from commercial farming to a cabin in the woods to helping found the Community Land Trust.

    Rural areas depend upon urban infrastructure to provide those things they cannot produce, and urban communities depend upon rural agriculture. We are very much interdependent. There is no such thing as self sufficiency.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lhamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    1,624
    You can find both heaven and hell within the same suburban city limits, actually -- Issaquah is a prime example. I would LOVE to live in downtown Issaquah and have a job at KCLS headquarters or the Issaquah branch library. Everything within walking/biking distance and FLAT. Transport me a couple of miles to the Highlands or that horrible condo development above Fred Meyer, though, and I probably wouldn't be very happy.

    The Seattle area is actually quite nice in that several of the surrounding suburban towns now have pretty compact, walkable, well-resourced downtown areas that are linked with each other and with downtown Seattle by decent public transit. So as long as you live within the urban parts of the suburbs, you can have the best of both worlds.

    If/when we move back to the Seattle area, we'll probably end up in one of those suburbs. Would love to live near my brother in the north end of Seattle, but his neighborhood is a bit pricey for us, unless we build up a much bigger stash.

    lhamo
    "Seek out habits that help you overcome fear or inertia. Destroy those that do the opposite." Seth Godin

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    2,725
    We lived in the city before we moved here. It had advantages: we could walk to many places; DH biked to work. It had disadvantages: search helicopter lights through the windows at night (and we lived in a 'good' part of the city); mail theft; bicycle theft; our car was broken into 3X in 5 years (and believe me, it wasn't a car you would think was a theft magnet!); it was noisy all the time (cars, sirens, etc); when you did need to drive somewhere, the traffic was horrible. That city did not have good mass transit at the time; the buses were limited and known for breaking down in the 100+ degree heat. I had to commute to the outskirts of the city for my job.

    When we moved to MN we bought a modest (<1500 sq ft) suburban house, mostly because DD was 18 months old and we could not undertake restoration in a house with lead paint, which included every house we looked at in the city (they all needed restoration, that is). It took some time to adjust, but there are again many advantages of our second-tier suburb: there is a lot of green space, which leaves me with a much more peaceful feeling than I ever had in the city; it is safe; schools are among the best in the state, while our city-living friends complain; we have space in our yard to grow a substantial garden. It has disadvantages: there aren't many places we can walk or bike (but we can bike to school, library, grocery, parks, farmers market when weather is good), and transit options are extremely poor. DH's commute is about the same length that mine was when we lived in the city. It takes us less than 30 minutes to be in either downtown Mpls or St Paul.

    I'll take our current suburb over our past city any day. Feeling safe in my home is invaluable.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    14,538
    Quote Originally Posted by lhamo View Post
    You can find both heaven and hell within the same suburban city limits, actually -- Issaquah is a prime example. I would LOVE to live in downtown Issaquah and have a job at KCLS headquarters or the Issaquah branch library. Everything within walking/biking distance and FLAT. Transport me a couple of miles to the Highlands or that horrible condo development above Fred Meyer, though, and I probably wouldn't be very happy...
    lhamo
    What happened to Issaquah is a crime--such a beautiful setting, such ugly developments. Some city planner needs to be sent to the stocks. The same thing happened in Beaverton, Oregon about the time I left. You can have density, beauty, and architectural integrity all at once. Mountain Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon is one of my favorite examples. It's on my short list of places to move.

    I can imagine Kunstler being snarky--he seems to disdain everyone but a few fawning acolytes--but not droll. His fantasies of societal ruin seem practically masturbatory. Can you tell I'm not a fan?

    I don't see any reason most suburbs can't convert themselves to more self-sufficient cities--with the exception of really far-flung, widespread ones. I have enough land to grow a bit of food and husband chickens and rabbits and tilapia if I had to, and I can walk to a water source. I agree with you, redfox, that we're all interdependent, and I find the whole "longing for apocalypse" meme pretty repulsive. It assumes that we're all stupid barbarians incapable of meeting challenges with vigor and creativity.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6,392
    Interesting topic.

    There seems to be a number of folks here that live in Western Washington and Oregon - quite progressive areas of the country where life is not quite as sprawling and car dependent - I say this from my experience of living in SE Portland for 5 years in the 90's - this is an area of the country where people really tend to care about environmental issues and quality of life. To me this is a very different mindset than the one where I am living now, though I do see some positive changes over time.

    ]Here in Phoenix, things sprawl much much much more and I am able to make due without a car only because I live so close in to downtown. If I lived further out, it would be much more difficult. And getting to the topic here, uggggggghhhhhh I have no desire personally to live further out in some sprawling car dependent hell, and hell is what I would consider it. I can see where Kunstler may be referring more to Sunbelt sprawl cities where there are miles and miles and miles of cities where everything looks the same and hardly any lots and construction was thrown up overnight and is perhaps of dubious quality. I'm glad to see here in Phoenix light rail and also more folks using mass transit but I also understand that for a good half of this sprawling metro area mass transit is not a realistic option due to no access to buses and distances and times to commute via bus involved. Rob

  9. #9
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    13,321
    I live in the suburbs, if someone passes you walking somewhere--even though you can walk to a lot of basic amenities here within a half mile to a mile--they think your car broke down.

    Also, we have parks that no one goes to, and neighbors you never see. I value the fact that my street has not been as transient as many--I've known my immediate neighbors on three sides for almost 30 years, but I think that's a fluke.

    Also, there is no town center in my township, which also hinders community. It was built as little Levittown type homes on farms when people started to move out of Brooklyn--not much planning. A farmer would make a few bucks and a subdivision would go up. A school went with it, but not many shops or amenities.

    I have roots here, so I like it It's familiar, comfortable, I know my mailman well, I know the merchants, and I cross paths with teachers my kids have had throughout the years, so that's what makes it "home."

    While I'm not a big fan of suburbs in general (I always wanted to live in Manhattan), I think you have to look at them on a town-by-town basis Some of them function well and others not so much.

    Here's my own blog entry on suburbia:
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    14,538
    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    ...
    While I'm not a big fan of suburbs in general (I always wanted to live in Manhattan), I think you have to look at them on a town-by-town basis Some of them function well and others not so much.
    ...
    Exactly. You can't generalize about "suburbs," which can be small towns, edge cities, undifferentiated sprawl, or something altogether different, anymore than you can lump all cities together.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •