I moved to New York City from the South eight years ago and have come to love city living. While it definitely has its challenges, the benefits for my family continue to outweigh the downsides. One of those downsides is the seemingly constant stream of farewells to friends moving back home or to the suburbs. After yet another summer of goodbyes, I’ve been reminding myself of the reasons I stay.
There are the obvious draws of a city — opportunity, diversity, culture and their unique energy. As wonderful as these things are, their allure can fade over time. Here are some of the most attractive (and less talked about) aspects of city living that have created long-lasting appeal for me.
1. Proximity to People
I am an introvert, but love having apartment neighbors. It’s a little like dorm life. It’s so easy to catch up with neighbors as I’m walking into the building with my kids. The hallway on our floor is an extension of everyone’s personal space. Apartment living has fostered much stronger relationships with my neighbors in the city than I’ve experienced anywhere else.
Living in a modest-sized apartment also encourages family cohesion. Our family naturally ends up in the same room together because we only have one room to gather in besides the bedroom. It comes at the cost of privacy and alone time, but, overall, we’ve found this time together to be a big upside.
I find that my kids enjoy the stroller, walking or their scooters far more than a car seat. While walking around the neighborhood, I’m able to have fun conversations, stop and watch the backhoe working on our street, wave at the city bus drivers, and talk to them about what we see. A more obvious upside is the exercise. My kids get to let out a lot of energy just by commuting around the neighborhood. I won’t lie: it can be a serious challenge walking around the city when the weather is foul. Much like driving, there are annoying downsides, but, overall, we see the walkability of our city as a net positive.
Plus, who doesn’t love a short commute? In a city, you generally have much shorter distances to travel to work (since so many offices are located there), which adds valuable time to your day for more enjoyable activities.
3. Fewer Possessions
Cities are short on space, so most residents simply own less, meaning we’re responsible for less. Owning less frees up time, finances and energy. You’re also forced to be more thoughtful about (and with) what you buy. This semi-forced frugality also creates more opportunity to share and pass along goods within your community.
You may have noticed that most of these benefits have nothing to do with money. Money is often a huge driver in our decisions about where to live. However, the non-financial reasons that draw you to a particular place are often worth weighing heavily and you may decide to make a few sacrifices in order to make your housing budget work.
Interested in different neighborhoods? Check out our peek inside America’s Exclusive Gated Communities.
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