Why the urban life…

September 26, 2009

I figured it’s about time that I go into a bit of detail about why the urban life goes hand in hand with my “simple” and “green” themes. I will preface this by saying that I KNOW that not everyone will see the benefits I list in the same light I do and also that I AM NOT deliberately trying to cast aspersions on suburban living (though it may seem like it since the point of this post is to point out the advantages of the city–next I’ll do a post of the disadvantages, k?). There are many great things about both, and a person can be simple and green and happy in either place. I grew up in the suburbs and would say I pretty much had the perfect childhood. I just happen to love the city now–and love it so much that I have to share why!

1. I have nearly no outdoor maintenance. This is simple because, obviously, my husband and I just have to sweep a 10×8 ft. patio from time to time and try to remember to water the flower boxes out front. This is green because we do not have to use any water to keep a big lawn alive!

2. It costs almost nothing to heat/air condition our house. We live in a row home–which means the two long sides of our house are attached to the homes next to us–which means only the front, back, and flat roof are true outside walls. We get away with turning our heat and air on much later in the seasons than you’d expect, and even once they’re on, the bills just don’t skyrocket.

3. We only have one car. I was so happy the day we downsized to one! No more second insurance payment, no more buying gas, and no more taking it to the shop. Now I walk or take the bus/subway/train everywhere. Is it a little annoying from time to time that I can’t always get to a place as fast as I want or escape the elements when they catch me unawares? Yes, but I think the trade-off is worth it in saved money, saved carbon, and a whole lot of automatically built-in exercise for me to boot.

4. On the car note, I love the fact that I am forced to do virtually no baby-schlepping in and out of hot cars to run errands. I pop her in the stroller or Ergo and away we go by foot–no trying to keep her happy behind me while we’re sitting at endless stoplights, no finding parking and loading her in/out/in/out of different carts and strollers and carriers. And again, bonus that we’re not dumping lots of extra pollution in the air being in the car all afternoon. (And maybe a bonus to our general safety that we are in a car so infrequently–if you follow the news AT ALL it’s hard not to be convinced that you’re about to be mowed down at every moment by a crazed text-addicted 20-something! You doubt me?–See this vid at minute 2:15!)

5. The people-watching is amazing. This has nothing to do with the environment (unless you want to make an argument that too much homogeneity crushes the soul), but man, can you “simply” entertain a baby by parking her stroller at a good vantage point in a city square and just letting her watch the ridiculous variety of people passing by. The perfect “zone out” activity for that 6-7 pm hour before bed! (Which does remind me of another related advantage–that you can take about 10 quick walks per day in the city and have them all be to completely different genres of destinations even though you’re staying in the same 5 square block radius–really helps when you’re at that “I’m completely bored with my infant who can’t really do stuff yet but I don’t want to admit it to anyone lest they judge me” phase.) Of course, you can’t choose which types of people walk by, which can really be a burn sometimes.

All right, I know there are more, but that’s a good start for one night. And I will post a rant at some point about all the things that piss me off about the city. Because there are plenty of those, too. But actually I think I already covered the biggest one a minute ago.

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