Reasons You’ll Hate Living in the Suburbs: Losing Your Urban Identity

Everyone who moves from the city to the suburbs makes the same promise to themselves: I won’t become a suburban person, I’ll keep my urban sensibility, I’ll come into the city all the time.


Take, for example, this jackass writing about his decision to move from the city to the suburbs:

So I’ve convinced myself that I’m not leaving.  No, not me!  I’m just moving to a new section of Manhattan, a hot new neighborhood like Dumbo and Nolita and all those other acronymic (is that a word?) Manhattan neighborhoods that magazine writers or real estate brokers are always discovering.

I’m just moving to “Suma,” the “SUburbs of MAnhattan.”  Just like “Tribeca” is the “TRIangle BElow CAnal” or “Nolita” is “NOrth of LIttle ITaly.”   Just another neighborhod of Manhattan!  Really!

Suma is not a neighborhood per se, of course, but it’s a state of mind, the state of mind that I might be moving to the suburbs, but I’m going to retain my Manhattan sensibilities, pretentious though they may be.

I’m not going to give in.

I’m not going to get a cookie-cutter house.

I’m not going to become the organization man.

I’m not going to eat every meal at a franchise restaurant.

I’m not going to stay in on weekends.

I’m going to find my Suma.

That was three years ago, when I first contemplated my move to the suburbs.  And, of course, I’ve totally sold out.

Going into Manhattan.  I promised myself that I’d come into Manhattan often, at least once a month.  I’ve probably been to the city three or four times a year, at best.  Why?  It’s tough to explain.  We want to go into the city, check out a new restaurant, go see a show, hit a few lounges, but then the simple mechanics get in the way — the 45 minute drive, the potential traffic, finding parking, worrying about drinking when I need to drive us home. We think about it, and then it just seems so much easier to drive ten minutes to the mall to watch Liam Nisson growl and kill bad people. What amazes me is that I did that same drive every day for about eight years, when I was living in the city but working in the suburbs, but somehow what was once my daily commute now seems like an endless death march when I contemplate schlepping in for a night on the town.

Staying a city person. I promised myself that I wouldn’t become a suburbanite, that I’d stay a “city person.”  But strange things are happening.  The last few times I went to the city, I got disoriented by the little things. I walk uptown when I’m going downtown. I forget the order of the avenues — “is Park before or after Madison?”.  I forget which way the one way streets go.  Even worse, the last time I was in the city, I was walking to get a cup of coffee and I kept getting passed by people.  I became one of those people who clog up the sidewalks, walking too slowly for the rush of pedestrians trying to get where they’re going.  That was humiliating.

Keeping my “sophisticated urban sensibility.” This may be the worst realization of all.  You’d think that in the information age, you’d be able to stay in touch with what’s happening in the city. I read the Times every day. I surf the city lifestyle blogs.  But it’s not enough.  You just can’t stay in touch when you’re not actually there.  Reading about it isn’t the same.  In just three years, the city has changed.  Food trucks?  Really?  And what’s with these Vietnamese sandwiches everyone was talking about last year.  Are they still hot, or did I totally miss it?  Honestly, I have NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON ANYMORE!

Now, of course it’s easy to simply blame this on the suburbs.  Certainly, I like having something to blame besides the fact that I’m simply getting old and unhip.  Indeed, one could argue that it’s almost a little undignified for someone of my advancing years to bemoan the loss of an urban sensibility, when really I’m just getting cranky that I’m not 35 anymore.  Even if I was living in the city, it’s arguable whether I’d be any more tuned in than I am now, particularly since I’m now a father.  But it still hurts.

And here’s the worst part.  Slowly but surely, I’m starting to feel myself becoming a suburbanite.  I’m fighting it, but it’s insidiously working my way into my psyche.  I drive my new crossover into the city, and feel that twinge of superiority when I pick up my city friends who don’t own a car.  On those rare occasions when urbanites visit us in the suburbs, I silently bask in the sense of awe they have when they see my closet.  SO BIG!

It scares me how easily I’m being seduced by big closets and affordable restaurants and my guest bedrooms, how I find myself going weeks without even thinking about taking a trip into the city.  I’m getting — I can’t believe I’m saying this — used to it.

So that’s another one of the reasons that you’ll hate living in the suburbs.  No matter how much you might want it right now, and regardless of how many promises you’ll make to yourself, you’re going to find yourself going over to the bland side.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you….



  1. “Tribeca” is the “TRIangle BElow CAnal” or “Nolita” is “NOrth of LIttle ITaly.” Thanks for edjumacating me! I never knew that! I did enjoy your blog Joe! I had an apartment on 73rd and 1st, went to F.I.T., worked in the garment industry for 6 years. It didn’t take long for me to become a “Country Bumpkin”! Everytime I am in the city, I can’t help but think they should have fast and slow lanes on the sidewalk. I’m sure you can guess which lane I’d be in! LOL

  2. You ar hilarious. I love this log.