Friday, October 10, 2008

Squishy or spacious?

Just finished reading this article about families who have eschewed the suburban sprawl and larger homes with yards for small apartments in the heart of their cities. This article reminded me of the difference between my brother and I. I have never really desired to live in downtown, although I can see the attraction of living there (that is, if I also worked downtown.) My brother, on the other hand, would love to live in the city, or maybe a bigger city than our own. (No doubt he'll contradict me at some point during this post.)

I used to tell the hubby that I always dreamed about living in an apartment. I have no idea why I wanted to live in an apartment. Maybe it was a Seinfeld or Friends or Mad About You influenced idea. Of course, nobody in New York has apartments as big as on TV. Every time I go to Ikea, I marvel over the showrooms that proclaim, "Live comfortably in 455 square feet!" and display an entire family's life, squeezed into every nook and cranny of a small space. Chairs are folded and hang on the walls, beds are one step away from the kitchen, and the bathroom is right beside the fridge. Part of me is always tempted to try out living in a small space just to see if I can do it.

Of course, the problem is, I don't mind suburban sprawl. We live in a spacious part of the world where people can live in houses that have yards. And once you have a yard, and a BBQ, and maybe a few chairs to sit on outside - well then - why wouldn't you want that?

I can definitely understand that one reason for living in the city would be a commuting issue. I don't work in downtown, but when I have to go there, it does make me curse the traffic situation getting out of the burbs. (That is partly a problem with how the city and its outlying areas are designed.)

Maybe I am a little claustrophobic. In our old place, I didn't like how there wasn't much separation in the common areas, such that if hubby was on the phone, I'd have to turn down the TV (or turn up, if I wanted him to get off the phone!) I can't imagine sleeping in a closet just to make more room in the apartment for my kids, or sending my laundry out just to accommodate living in a smaller space. I am a homebody at heart; I think relaxing is best done at home rather than out at some restaurant or club or theatre. (I make exceptions for vacations. Those can only be done away from home. Preferably in some hot, sunny, tropical location.) Besides, it's hard to have a 60 lb dog in an apartment.

I hope this post doesn't come off as "la la la, I love my giant house"* ... instead, I think it's pretty amazing that many of us have the ability to choose our living circumstances. Whether it's living in a basement suite, an apartment, a townhouse, or a house, or with family or in-laws, many of us are fortunate to have a place to live at all. This is just my perspective. Sometimes I think it'd be awesome to live closer to the "action", to be in a more culturally and socially diverse area of the city. Other days, I think living in the suburbs is really pretty good.

Your thoughts?

*I don't have a giant house!


ArC said...

(No doubt he'll contradict me at some point during this post.)

No, you've got a pretty accurate version of my preferences.

(that said, I wouldn't exactly mind having 9000 sq ft in the heart of the city....)

Jo said...

I've always thought that I would one day live in a loft near downtown. But that's probably me dreaming 15 years ago, when I was single, thinking I'd work near/in downtown, and don't want to live close to parents. Heh.

I am happy to be living in the space that I do now. It's nowhere "huge", but it's spacious enough for the Mister and I. Faster to vacuum/clean up. Forget yard work and lawnmowing, too! Although I think we could probably live in a even smaller space than our current one, because we spend so much time in our computer room. And without cable, we hardly sit in our living room unless we're watching rentals or have people over. Yikes.

I still remember when I lived with my grandparents, my parents, and my brother in a 600 sq.ft 2 bedroom apartment in HK. I guess we all just adapt when we needed to.

ArC said...

I realized later that part of why I'm happy in dense urban spaces is because I rarely drive there. Which means I don't think about parking.

(as with everything, there's a tradeoff; I often wish I had a handy movable locker to stash extra stuff.)