Suburban Living tips for Ex-Urbanites

We’ve talked about urban living and what to consider when looking for a multifamily unit. However, a great location and vibrant neighborhood may not trump a little breathing room for many people. There are just as many charming suburbs as there are cookie-cutter ones, and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy living in the suburbs, even if you have previously been a hard core urbanite.

The biggest disadvantage of the suburbs culturally, financially, and socially is total dependence on the car, the greatest disadvantage being the toll that it takes on ones health. Take advantage of walking and bike trails. Live in place where your kids can walk or bike to that great school. Take a stroll to the grocery or corner store, or out to dinner. Sometimes we get in our car without thinking about it when things are within reasonable to walk or bike. It is truly an enjoyable way to get around. Of course, in many large cities, public transit extends into the suburbs. Distance from a commuter line could be a major consideration when looking for a home in the suburbs. When looking at a house, make walkability one of your main considerations.

Unless you have a strict homeowner’s association, which is becoming more and more common in master planned developments, you have space for some homesteading. The new way to rebel in the suburbs is by daring to have a garden in your front yard. (See the NYT article, The Battlefront in the Front Yard) Even small back yards offer plenty of space for chickens, gardens, composting, line drying clothes, and water collection.

Sharing spaces is a great way to foster community and help curb the isolation so many can feel in car dependent places. Check out the book Superbia!: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods by Dan Chiras and Dave Wann. (See my review here) for many ideas on how to combat the dystopian movie cliche of the suburbs and create fulfilling, healthy, fun places to live.