City Slicker or Suburban Soccer Mom?

by Samantha on June 30, 2011

“Urban life cannot be replicated” state those who have a penchant for fresh lattes from the corner Starbucks on a lazy Sunday morning. A five minute walk will cure last night’s hangover with that first sip of java, tasted just a few minutes after rolling out of bed. Parents who plead more mundane reasons for fatigue such as interrupted sleep due to a feverish and demanding child still need their daily hit of Joe as well. No worries, their double mocha latte is waiting for them as well, just a hop, skip and a jump from home. It’ll be ready, just as soon as they saunter a couple of steps down the street to their favorite coffee shop. Such is life in the big city.


Image courtesy of http://brownstonecambridge.wordpress.com
There’s no place like home, especially when home includes a sprawling square footage of property that includes three or four bathrooms (the kids have their own), a family room, finished basement that includes a full recreation area, wet bar and pool table, and a master bedroom that is evocative of the palaces at Versailles. The sprawling expanse that is the backyard of such residences can easily accommodate the neighbors, their friends and their families. Barbecues or pool parties are the name of the game because space is not a problem, so hey – why not? Said home’s walk-in closet is the size of some city homes’ bedrooms. No joke.

Image courtesy of www.praisehouston.com
City vs suburbs. Urban vs. suburban.To move or not to move. That is the question.

Is it any wonder that we all get our backs up about this topic, regardless of which side of the city limits we live on? People can get downright nasty when they talk about the merits of each location.

More recently, the topic has become top of mind as (in my case) two “terrible twos” makes one crave for more space – if only to provide a sanctuary to run away from the noise and chaos for a fleeting moment.Having 5,000 kids makes one think long and hard about one’s living arrangements, that’s for sure.

In speaking with various parents, it has become very clear that there are definitely two camps of home devotees out there, and they are very passionate about their choices.The city lovers love their way of life, and cite the following as reasons for their refusal to leave their respective urban enclaves:

  • The ability to walk to their favorite restaurant, coffee shop or movie theater
  • The ability to get by without a car
  • The sense of community resulting from living in close proximity to your neighbors
  • The “cool” factor

Those living in their suburban paradises wouldn’t dream of life in the big city and embrace the space provided by the nether regions of the city limits. While space is clearly one of the key reasons that many families decide to move to the suburbs, there are other factors as well:

  • More affordable housing costs
  • The perception of a more “safe” living environment for the family, particularly children
  • The opportunity to have a newer and in some people’s estimation, a “nicer” home
  • Peace and quiet – all night raves are less common beyond the city limits
The Urbanites vs. the Suburbanites may sound like a “B” movie from the ’50’s but the two camps are very real. And camps they are. Ask any dweller in either area how they feel about their choice of residence and you will likely get a passionate discourse on the merits of their particular area code. Similarly, they often slip in a not-so-subtle “dig” at those who don’t live in their chosen part of town. Hence, comments such as “I can’t imagine living in such a small place with all of my kids,” or “It’s a great house, lots of space, but boy is it ugly!” (I’ve heard both of these comments regarding choice of residence). What gives?

We all make choice that we feel are best for us and our families, but despite this truism, people still get their backs up about those who choose to make a decision that does not jive with our own. I know I’ve been guilty of this at times, in spite of myself. Is it human nature to do this? Is it a subconscious way of making peace with ourselves about a decision that we have made that we are, perhaps, not altogether completely comfortable with?
Many urban dwellers would give up their tiny digs for a bigger living area, but just can’t for a variety of reasons, including proximity to work, lack of a vehicle and/or resources to purchase a new one,  financial considerations or other reasons.

I know of many friends who have moved to the suburbs purely due to the need for more space, a limited pool of financial resources and perhaps, a new baby on the way. Many did so begrudgingly, not wanting to cross what they saw as that defining line that labeled them as a Soccer Mom, Suburbanite, or (in their eyes) worse.

Why are we so sensitive about the three digits that precede our phone number? It’s as if something as simple as this defines our very being. Ditto for someone’s zip code or postal code. What gives?
Perhaps it’s human nature to want to define and label those we encounter and heck – determining someone’s worth based on their proximity to the downtown core makes a lot of sense doesn’t it (insert sarcasm here)?
Furthermore, there is often a faint odor of superiority when those who want to convey their seemingly correct choice of residence discusses the poor folks in the _____ (insert the word “city” or “suburbs” here).
Each location is valid. We all make choices that we feel are best for our families. Yet when others do the same, e.g. deciding where to live, we feel that we can denigrate their decision with no consideration to the factors that led to their choice. And so the war between the city and the suburbs continues. Unnecessarily.
City or suburbs? Urban or suburban? What’s your choice and why? 
How do you feel about those who live in the City or the Suburbs? 

Not exactly “City vs Suburbs,” more like “City vs Country” but I used to love this show. Food for thought, anyway…




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