Suburban Strong

After a year and a half in our new town, we're slowly getting to know our neighbors a little better. It hasn't been easy, because our ten-year old kid doesn't go to school in this town. Our 13 year old isn't increasing our social circle, because, by middle school, most parents have backed out of the socialization and fund raising activities that occur in schools. Ack. If the kids aren't helping you score new friends, what good are they?

But we're friendly-type people and we do our own lawn work, so people will sometimes wander over to chat. 

A young-ish, childless couple lives in a traditional Colonial across the street. We don't see them much, because they work crazy hours in the city. They return from the train station late at night. On the weekends, we might see them padding out in PJ bottoms to pick up their newspaper from the end of the driveway in the early afternoon. 

For a long time, that couple puzzled me. Who would move out to the suburbs unless they were forced out of the city by the need for schools? Why would you move so far from your job? Why would you live in a huge house, if you don't need all that space? But I've heard that this is part of the latest trend. Younger people are more interested in suburban life than old Gen-Xers like myself. (Where or where did I read that?) 

18 thoughts on “Suburban Strong

  1. Some people just like space in their houses, and yards, and don’t like cities, whether they have kids or not. Shocking, I know. They may well have grown up in the suburbs, so that’s what feels like home to them. (Even if not, they may just not like cities.)

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  2. There was some moderate pressure to get us to move to the suburbs, but I refused in the end. It would cost me an hour a day and make it so that I couldn’t walk to a bar. The .08 rule means that I need at least two passable bars within a half hour walk of my house.

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  3. We’ve had several couples move to our neighborhood before they had kids, but it was clearly on their agenda, and they now have. That’s what we did, actually.

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  4. I always assume that any neighbors who are really hard to get to know are either running grow houses or are serial killers.

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  5. Host a block party this spring. Get a permit, buy some beer, put it on a cooler on your front stoop, and let all of the neighbors mill around on your front lawn.
    Then, you can pump everyone for information.

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  6. I second Ragtime’s suggestion. Or host a neighborhood party this winter.
    Is there a Newcomers’ club in your town? Our local Newcomers’ club is very generous about defining “Newcomer.” It helped a great deal to have a fair number of British ex-pats in the area, as they were a fairly gregarious group.

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  7. MH – I live in the land of grow ops. Check for lots of foil on the windows and an extra power meter or two. And condensation – “ahem” plants create a lot of it.

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  8. Obviously “serial killer” is the more likely option, but one does like to leave room for positive views of human nature.

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  9. I’m just so ready to move out of the not-so-big suburban house – more to get into the city than to get rid of the space. Don’t know the neighbors after 12 years, the kids are not home more than a month a year, can’t walk anywhere. Ready to sublet for 2-3 months to give my husband a short, low-risk trial of the city. He’s so not inclined. And dang, we work in the suburbs, so this will increase commute time with no viable public transportation to the suburbs in the twin cities.

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  10. Is there a Newcomers’ club in your town?
    It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized my mom had been going to Newcomers’ and not Cucumbers’ Club.

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  11. Yeah, there’s a cucumber club in town. I keep meaning to join it. When we moved here, we already had friends here and we’re only 8 minutes away from our old friends. We also have huge extended family. So, it’s not a pressing need.

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  12. My best friend just moved back to town and found a loft downtown. We are so excited to have happy hour within walking distance. MH, we’ve got like 12 good bars that you could toddle to, dude you could be a binge drinker here!
    I can’t wait to get rid of the last kid just so we can downsize and move downtown again. Mind you, we’re 7 minutes from downtown by car, probably 20 by bike, but I’m not walking.

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  13. I think it depends on where you were raised. We are now on the second (at least) generation of suburban living in America. Many of my yuppie friends were raised in the ‘burbs and moved there as soon as they got married. They were really in the City only to find a spouse. It sounds like Laura’s neighbors are in that category.

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  14. My sense is that for many younger people the city is preferable, but just too expensive. They can’t *afford* to stay in the city unless they put up with multiple roommates, so they end up in the burbs.
    Then again, life in general seems to expensive for the younger generation. I swear this whole country is on its way back to multigenerational housing. The only way anyone can afford their car insurance and student loans is by bunking with a relative.

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  15. This reminds me of the life cycle of the salmon, with a few important differences.
    Anytime you guys want to set down the guns, we’d be happy to switch up our diet a bit.

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