Okay, so in my most recent post, I listed what I see as the three alternatives to living in suburbia, namely life in the country, life in a small town, and life in a traditional neighborhood in a city. Now, I’d like to expound a little upon the positives and negatives of each of those three choices.
I. Life in the Country
By this, I mean living on a country lane within walking distance from the nearest town or village, like those modeled in lots of novels–“Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Town on the Prairie”, “Heidi”, etc. I imagine that, in this sort of environment, one would know their neighbors fairly well and would depend upon them out of mutual need. In this model, town is near enough to offer the benefits of civic life and the amenities of modern life, such as a church community, good health care, library, and so forth.
There are numerous positives to this sort of living arrangement, such as enjoyment of the gratuitous beauty found in the outdoors, no need to commute to work, assuming that one works as a farmer or from a home office, the capacity to raise much of one’s own food, a certain level of insulation from societal pollutants, and, well, let’s be honest, everybody loves a good autumnal harvest festival. There are also negative aspects of country living, namely, distance from the benefits of big cities (state-of-the-art hospitals, airports, etc), dangers of inclement weather, insofar as country roads are often not serviced as promptly after a snowstorm, as well as the potential for nasty neighbors, like confinement poultry farms or pig lagoons.
II. Life in a Small Town
I grew up in a town small enough to be traversed on foot in half-hour. It was delightful as a child to feel like I could, and that it was safe enough to, get around town. My siblings and I walked most places, to the pool or the park, to the library and the ball fields and to school. This is the sort of town I envision when I list “small town” as one of my ideal living arrangements. I have already offered many of the potential blessings I see; to the above list, I would add–nearly everyone knows each other, the crime rate is low, the beauty of the countryside is just a few blocks outside of town, and the pace of life is slower. There are certainly negative aspects of living in a small town, among them are those well-documented by Jane Austen, namely, gossip-y neighbors, stores that don’t carry the latest fashions, distance from big city hospitals and theaters, and fewer educational opportunities than those offered in big cities.
III. Life in a Traditional Neighborhood in a Big City
These neighborhoods are usually downtown in big cities, surrounding what was the original Main Street. They afford many benefits, namely walking distance from the grocery store, library, hospital, and so forth, as well as easy access to public transportation, and a selection of beautiful homes built during an era in which houses were well-built. The negatives to this living arrangement, however, seem to be rather plentiful; most often, downtown neighborhoods are poor or prone to violent crime, as well as polluted, run-down, or expensive. These negatives are not always present; my brother lives in Manhattan and, while his neighborhood is expensive, it is not dangerous nor run-down. However, this living arrangement seems to me the most burdensome.
Would any of our readers like to expand any of my lists?