20 July 2009

City Living: The Pros and Cons

We live in an apartment building in a nicely gentrified area of a decently sized city's downtown. Having always been children of the burbs (some more rural than others) this was a bit of a change. While I must say I am liking it a lot, it has its good and bad points.

1. You can walk everywhere. With the exception of the required trips to Target and some doctors, we walk everywhere. The market, the library, the Y, the post office and so on are all right here. This is great in terms of gas usage, car maintenance and general health from getting my butt off the couch. It is not so great since you then HAVE to walk everywhere. With no parking downtown and the proximity making it more work to use the car, you are hoofing it, even when, like today, it is almost 90 at 9 am...with 97% humidity. When it is that gross out, even two blocks to the library can seem way too far.

2. The city is great and is constantly doing work to upgrade and maintain including the installation of a light rail system that should connect to DC withing a couple years. It is very nice to live somewhere where there is at least an illusion of civic-mindedness. The New Towne Pointe Park ($11 million upgrade) is lovely and has revitalized downtown as a cultural and family center. The downside, there is always construction. Not only are the roads a constant maze of closures, but the sidewalk are impacted as well. The Y is two blocks away, but thanks to construction one has to circumnavigate the Freemason District to get there.

3. People. there are tons of them, doing cool stuff, everywhere you go. I enjoy a great group of neighbors and have even enjoyed the phenomenon of local merchants knowing my name and so on. The flip side? You can't go ten feet without knowing someone and having to chat. A quick walk across the street for milk soon becomes and hour long ordeal as three of your neighbors are also there and want to yak about the tragedy of our property manager leaving. I am anti-social by nature, so this can be tough for me. It is like Mayberry...on speed.

4. Cultural events, right in our "backyard." It is lovely to be able to walk down the waterfront and attend the areas premier events. We have done the Children's Festival, Harborfest, Wine festival and so much more. So what is the down side? My house is perfect for listening to all the concerts. All of them, even the Jazz Festival. I hate jazz. While I realize improvisational jazz is an art form to some, when I am in bed at 1am listening to what is, for all intensive purposes, someone hammering away randomly on a piano while others toot horns and hit drums, it gets old fast.

And last but not least...

5. Traffic. while I dont have to drive alot, when I do it is a total pain. You have to get on the highway to go anywhere and well, people here don't drive so well. If you are going anywhere, at any time, state law requires you to sit in standstill traffic for at least ten minutes. It is just a fact of life around here.

With all that said I would recommend living here to anyone. We have really been enjoying it. While we will be ready to move on when the time comes in about a year, it has been a great change of pace. I really can see how once the kids are at a point where our desire for a backyard and bike trails have passed, that we could wind up back in city living.

More great lists to fight the Monday Monotony at:


Kerry said...

We've talked about moving downtown after the kids are grown. I think we'll be sick of shoveling snow and mowing and cleaning out gutters by then.

The youngest is turning two in September though, so we have a loooooong way to go.

abdpbt said...

Yes, the traffic is the thing that I miss the least about Santa Monica. That and the transients. But Santa Monica is uniquely situated for a homeless population, I guess.

Alexis said...

Kerry- We are feeling the growing pains as our family expands, but I don't miss the maintenance of actual property.

Anna- We actually live across the street from the local mission and we still don't seem to have transients floating about, not in large numbers anyway. I have a feeling there is some sort of Twilight Zone-style city planning at play there. Not sure I really want to know...

Tim G said...

I have never lived in a downtown area, but we have considered renting in a major area when the last child has moved on, just to try it out and see if we would like it. We tend to like the extremes: would thoroughly enjoy walking everywhere and seeing more cultural events, but like solitude and sitting on a quiet front porch as well. Makes the purchase of downtown seem like a huge committment.