Thursday, June 18, 2009

From Suburban to Urban Living

Ron and I lived in suburbia throughout our life together (in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Memphis), before moving to Chicago. So we really weren’t sure how much of an adjustment to our lifestyle would be necessary when we moved into a condo in the city. After a year here, we have a handle on it.

The biggest surprise, and a pleasant one, has been how little we use our car. On average, we use the car about twice a month. Back in January, when the weather was really bad, we didn’t use it car all month! (In fact, I think there was a week we didn’t even venture out of the house!) The limited use of the car has been great, considering the cost of fuel. Now we are struggling with how to think about the rising cost of parking, and the cost of insurance. Do we need a car at all? Should we find remote parking that’s less convenient and much less expensive? Still thinking about this.

It's surprisingly quiet in our urban home. Our building was built in the 20’s, and is as solid as a fortress. In addition, the one block street we live on is all residential. It gets a little noisy when classes begin and end at the two schools near us – but that doesn’t last for long. Otherwise, we are rarely disturbed. We don’t notice traffic noise at night at all.

We walk much more here than in suburbia. We used to take leisurely walks in our Memphis neighborhood, but now we walk with purpose to stores, restaurants, the library, the el station, the golf course, and to and through the park…almost everywhere. This immediately resulted in some natural weight loss, even before we changed our eating habits last fall. When we moved here, I struggled with walking 2 miles. Now I can walk 5 miles in a day without popping the Advil PM before I go to bed.

I was worried that Ron would miss puttering in his yard, but that has proven not to be an issue. Our building has a small front yard, and we are on the landscape committee. We’re gearing up to make improvements that will require some sweat equity, and I think that will be satisfying for both of us.

We’ve become more eco-friendly in the city. We have always recycled, but our consciousness has now extended to our purchases, our use of public transportation, and a general desire to live a more sustainable lifestyle. This has been an interesting side effect of urban living.

One final observation… I believe that we have become more outgoing in our contact with neighbors, service providers, and casual acquaintances. This may be more as a result of a reduction in stress and a slower pace of life than it is the suburban/urban thing. We have found our new contacts in Yankee-land to be surprisingly polite, helpful, and friendly. It’s easy to respond in kind.

1 comment:

  1. Laurel,

    I lived in DC many years ago, but have always wanted to have another city living experience. Enjoying reading about your new lifestyle.

    Mary K