Recently I read an article, Suburbia R.I.P, written by Michael Cannell, leaving me with a feeling that living in the suburbs is a dying dream….” In the wake of the foreclosure crisis many new subdivisions are left half built and more established suburbs face abandonment”. There might be some truth to his statement, since the downturn of our economy affects everyone, including the suburbs. The new home construction did slow down considerably, but I have yet to see “half built” abandoned subdivisions, or totally abandoned suburbs.
Suburbia took on a different look these days, in comparison to what it was like 50 or more years ago. The square footage of new homes is ever increasing, so is the demand for large lots, multi-car garages, private outdoor heated pools, tennis courts, central air conditioning, etc. Many homes in the suburbs are built now in clusters, gated communities, or developments, run by associations, giving them a very neat and uniform appearance. These developments are usually located within 5-10 miles from shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals, and other commercial centers, not exactly located somewhere in deserted areas, away from civilization.
Michael also states that homes constructed today do not measure up, quality wise, to homes built year ago…”the 1930s homes held up because they were made with solid materials, and today’s spec homes are all hollow doors, plastic columns and faux stone facades”, here again I only partially agree with his analysis. Consumers have several choices today in constructing a home they can afford, thus some choose modular (precision-built) homes, which cosmetically look very nice, but does lack the quality of the traditional home. But then again, one still can have a newly constructed traditional home which supersedes the 1930’s homes, because the new homes are star energy efficient, include environmentally safer materials (such as no asbestos or led paint), are well insulated, have double or triple pane windows, thus saving on energy usage, and still may include hard wood floors, ceramic tile, granite countertops, hot tubs, brick or stone exterior, etc.
Of course one expects to have a higher energy bill living in the suburbs in a 3200+ sq.ft. home, in comparison to 450+ sq. ft. flat in the city…. luxury costs money. However at the same time, the purchase price of the same flat in the city could cost you as much as the home in the suburbs, so it’s all relevant. Also, rent in the city could equal the mortgage payment of the suburbs’ home. In the suburbs every licensed member of the family usually owns a car, but in the city majority of the population depends on public transportation, due to high maintenance cost of owning a car (limited space, high insurance rates and parking fees).
I personally experienced life in the city and the suburbs, and I still prefer the suburbs to live in and raise a family. I love to visit cities, since there is so much to see and enjoy, but the suburb’s fresh air, the abundance of nature, the tranquility, the close knit neighborhoods, are my favorite attractions of these areas. The privacy and luxury of having y0ur own yard to play with your children or grandchildren. To be able to have a flower patch or a garden, to cultivate your own organic fruits and vegetables, relax on the patio and watch the sunrise and sunset. Wake up to the sound of singing birds, rather than a siren of a fire truck, or a police car. I also love the beauty of the seasonal changes of nature, especially during spring and fall, which is so much more noticeable in the suburbs.
I strongly believe that the suburbs will survive the current economic downfall and continue to flourish and attract the urban population to move into them.
I would love to hear your stories and opinions on this subject, whether you live in a city or suburb. What is your opinion on Michael’s theory.