Photo by Salt Water New England

Friday, May 8, 2020

Question: What would it take for you to work and live in a city today?


A New York Times headline today: "Coronavirus Escape: To the Suburbs". The story chronicles the flight from New York City to the suburbs.
This is a follow up to a story from April 29 with the headline "America’s Biggest Cities Were Already Losing Their Allure. What Happens Next?"
Almost a year ago, The Guardian published an article titled"Tired of London: thousands flee capital for a quieter life".
A question for the community is, "What would it take for you to work and live in a city today?"


37 comments:

  1. No ambition whatsoever to live in a city anymore--been there, done that--but to the question of what it would take, I would do so knowing that I had a date at which my tenure as a city dweller would conclude and I could return to my peaceful existence in small town America.

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  2. I would love to live in NYC. But you need to have a good sustainable prosperous job or a wealthy portfolio. A huge drawback is the out of this world taxation that NYC uses to burden its inhabitants.

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  3. I lived and worked in NYC for several years. I had a nice apartment on the upper West Side and enjoyed much of what the city has to offer. There was nothing like getting off work on a Thursday or Friday evening, meeting friends for an early diner then going to Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall for a concert or the ballet. We enjoyed the jazz clubs and museums and countless other activities. I would go back for those experiences.

    I didn’t care for traffic making me late to appointments, and the dirt and noise. The “I’ve got to get to where I’m going before you get to wherever you are going” attitude of just about everybody made me pretty callous, which I didn’t like. I hated schlepping groceries in the subway and hated even more the cost of cab fare.

    Living in the city was wonderful and not. As time went on, I found myself more and more in Central Park running, playing tennis, or just taking a walk. I missed the outdoors and space. When I had the chance to return to Connecticut, I jumped at it and never looked back.

    Whenever I go back to the city for a visit, that old New Yorker attitude seems to take over. The last time I was there, I was hastily making my way to a Broadway show. As usual, there was a crowd at the entry doors. Instead of going through the door, the person in front of me held the door open for me to go in. Annoyed, I said under my breath, “Why don’t you just go in and make it easier for all of us!” The guy holding the door for me was Chevy Chase. He looked me dead in the eye and flashed a big Cheshire cat smile across his face. I felt like an idiot, which, of course, I was.

    Aiken

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  4. Youth. Our son, who virtually graduates from journalism school in June, has a job starting in July. I think the office is in the space above Chelsea Market. I love visiting cities and enjoy easy access to DC, but I'm also glad we can retreat to the relative peace of the suburbs.

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  5. Manhattan Island may have everything you could ever want but my island of Jamestown,R.I.
    has everything you need.

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  6. Living on Long Island's South Shore has afforded me the best of both worlds. Could get my NYC fix if needed, access to activities on the Great South Bay and a hop, skip and a jump to my beloved Rhode Island and New England (via Cross Sound Ferry preferably!).

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  7. As a resident of gorgeous Chester County, Pennsylvania, I look forward to the occasional trip to Philadelphia to visit a museum, see a show or have a great dinner, but I'm even more pleased to see William Penn in my rearview mirror as I head home.

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  8. My first regular job after college was in D.C., across the street from the Treasury Building. What made it possible was living relatively close, on the last bus stop before crossing the river. That's what it took. My next job was just about the same distance but in the other direction. Then the jobs got further and further away from home, even as my home moved around. But I can't imagine working in the small town where I grew up. I also don't remember the last time I was in D.C.

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  9. My dad always used to say, "I'd hate living in a city". I think it was because most of his time spent in cities was during the deindustrialisation of the 1980s. His view was that cities were dieing for all but the most privileged of society, and they'd never be revived. I think he's right. The high streets here in Britain have been on life support for the last 2 decades. They're all but dead. Desirable cities such as London are only really enjoyable for those with money to burn - those who don't have to experience the day to day grime of the true city. Covid-19 may be the killer blow for cities as we knew or know them. The only way to go in Britain now is semi-rural or rural. Cities and towns will never be the same again.

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  10. I grew up in the NYC Metropolitan area. I'm content with a country (more accurately suburban) life. While the convenience of the city is nice, I quickly tire of the noise and being around so many people.

    I'm accustomed to private, green outdoor spaces where I can freely exist without encountering anyone else. I love the feeling of stepping outside into a quiet, natural atmosphere. Access to hiking trails is important to me as well.

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  11. There is no place like New York City (or Paris) especially in November and December. For thirty years we lived in New York and always looked forward to that special time of year. That’s when the city is cold, festive, and grand. Towards the end of the thirty years we realized during the rest of the year, however, there was someplace we’d rather be. We prefer the mountains in the winter. We’d rather be in the countryside in the spring and summer, to be surrounded by fields, farms and streams, and come fall, the foliage. An occasional mid-summer (and mid-week) trip to the shore might round things out. We’re just over two hours by commuter rail now from New York. Prior to covid19 we made frequent trips to enjoy galleries, restaurants (and the Strand). We miss the good friends who live among these amenities and the diversions themselves. But rolling by rail on and off Manhattan island, even before the current crisis, it’s easy to look out the window and think “I’m glad I don’t live here anymore.”

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  12. The flight from London has been going on for over a decade. The main issue is overcrowding, particularly the shopping streets in central London. Knightsbridge, including Harrods, is run by and for Arabs. Prior to the lockdown, it was almost impossible to get a seat in a pub or a table in a restaurant after 5pm without pre-booking.

    The main cause has been uncontrolled and illegal immigration, not just from the European Union. Knife crime has exploded and murder rates have soared. Gangs control not just inner London, e.g. the East End, but formerly affluent and trendy suburbs in north London too. This is the key issue that the Guardian's writers and metropolitan readership will not even discuss seriously.

    Those leaving London are moving not just to the suburbs and Home Counties but to the countryside too. Sussex, Dorset, Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire have long been the destinations of the leavers, especially retirees. In recent years, they have also been moving further north to market towns in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumbria and Cumbria.

    The quality of the local shops, pubs and restaurants is generally much higher than London where the big corporate chains rule. The low crime rates, clean air and beautiful countryside are obvious attractions for the middle classes too. Who can blame them for leaving dirty, overcrowded and dangerous London?

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    Replies
    1. According to one source, the population of London was higher in 1939 than it is today, although the immigration population is undoubtedly higher.

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    2. By the way, if you left the city and moved to the countryside, you would become the immigrant, sometimes resented by those who grew up there, bringing with you your city ways and city rules.

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    3. How do you define London? Have you ever lived in the city? Or are you relying on Wikipedia?

      I have lived in London and the Home Counties for over 30 years. Over the the last 20 years, the real population, including illegals not those those in fiddled government figures, has more than doubled.

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  13. There is no amount of money that could ever move to the heart of a major city. I need more grass than concrete, more trees than signposts in my my life!

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  14. I put my time in, and would not want to have to do it again.

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  15. Excellent public transport to enable an easy commute from the quiet suburbs to the city center and back again. Oslo is a bit sleepy, but Berlin would be ideal. My wife knows the area well, our son speaks German, and I can muddle through thanks to formal studies in Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch. If well-paying jobs presented themselves, it wouldn't take much convincing to go. Barring that, our almost rural environs outside East Lansing are delightfully serene. I do not miss the noise of traffic or disturbances caused by others' late night carousal one iota.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  16. Fortunately, working is in the rear view mirror.

    I’d need to smell the ocean and see billions and billions of stars at night. I’d need to hear coy dogs screech as I drift to sleep and a chorus of birds wake me. I can’t so I don’t.

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  17. Years ago I yearned to live in Atlanta, GA. Pre 1990s Olympics days. But no more. I have lived in a small town some 90 miles south of Atlanta all my life and remember those days when I thought going to Atlanta was like a trip to see Santa Claus, etc.
    But today's "Hotlanta" traffic is totally unbearable.
    No wonder it's often referred to as "LA East."

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    1. I lived in Atlanta in the mid-70's, and I can remember being able to do a complete circle on 285 in about an hour. Imagine that!

      Jacqueline

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  18. Think all the major cities will bounce back at some point. Who doesn't love NYC, London, Paris, Rome? All of them have awesome museums, theaters, restaurants, parks, architecture, history, romance, etc. Yes, right now exiting the big cities is tempting -- the burbs are green and pleasant and with any luck you get to have your very own backyard where the kids can play, you can grow an awesome veg and flower garden and the dog has somewhere to romp. If you live down the Jersey Shore (like me) you can take a 20 minute ferry ride and visit NYC whenever the mood strikes you. But for now I will play in my own backyard and hope to catch some sun as soon as the weather gets a little warmer. Wherever you are, social isolation is much pleasanter in the warm sunshine.

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  19. In my younger years (67 now), I lived in Los Angeles (three times), Atlanta, Dallas (twice), New Orleans, New York, and Tampa. I would not repeat any of those at this time in my life, nor any other major city. We are in a small town now, and life is so much easier. Sometimes we have the occasion to visit D.C. or Philadelphia, and I am always happy to leave even though I have enjoyed some of the stimulation and artistic events that are available there.

    My husband and I were fortunate to experience the world in the past and visit many of those trophy restaurants and other places that were the must-eat and must-do things at that time. We no longer care to eat that way, and we don't have the patience for crowds. When we look out front windows, we see trees and the Blue Ridge Mountains rather than into someone else's windows.

    I am sad about what San Francisco has become because it was once a favorite place of mine, but I would rather hold onto my memories than experience it as it is now. I feel the same about Paris and London.

    I'm very grateful for the opportunities I had when I was younger, but "To every thing, there is a season."

    Jacqueline

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  20. Just think what London would be like today minus all the non-EU immigrants who have changed it beyond recognition.

    Sadly, the British Media and Government have been trying to cover-up the facts of this ethnic disaster (What knife attacks? What no-go zones?), and are suppressing anyone who dares to speak out, or stand up for what was once a country with people sharing a common heritage.

    Interestingly, a prescient novel by Anthony Burgess,"The Wanting Seed," predicted the current urban miasma way back in the early 1960s, and is worth reading.

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  21. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I still live in Los Angeles as well. My work has taken me all over the US and after having traveled to so many places big and small; rural, suburban, and urban, it's hard to imagine not living in a big city.

    The past two months have been interesting to say the least. With business travel on halt, I'm home more than ever. Additionally, our entire firm is working from home. I bought a place to be within walking distance of the office. I am curious to see if firms will adopt a more generous WFH policy/culture. Should I become 100% remote, I may consider moving elsewhere.

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  22. Oh yeah, it's always the immigrants, isn't it. Engleterre has been in decline since well before WWII. And before the "ethnic disaster," you thought it was the Irish. Stop with the racism, please. It's disgusting.

    Aiken

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    1. Thank you. The xenophobia in these comments is very disturbing.

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    2. Aiken:

      As Sergeant Joe Friday (LA PD) used to say on "Dragnet:" "Just the facts, Madam, just the facts." Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. (Incidentally, I still have a few friends left in the UK, and none of them consider London to be an "English" city anymore.)

      What's more, I'm sure the vast majority of Brits would agree with my mild statements (see Robinson, Tommy, Farage, Nigel, and BREXIT), and please just be thankful I didn't say anything about Eskimos.


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  23. My entire life has involved moving from larger cities to smaller ones. I was born in British Malaya, in the city of Kuala Lumpur, and then moved to Trivandrum, a slightly smaller but densely populated city in the state of Kerala, India (Kerala, incidentally has mounted a stunningly effective COVID campaign, the very best in the world, which the US media has ignored -- in a state with 34 million people and a size that is a tenth of California, there has been a total of 3 deaths!).

    I left Trivandrum in the mid 1970s for graduate school in Rochester, NY, a medium-sized city. After my doctorate I did a post doc in East Lansing,a smaller town, and now have lived for more than thirty years as a professor in a very small college town: Stevens Point,Wisconsin. Quite idyllic and bucolic. Wouldn't trade it for any city except the tranquil Friday Harbor Washington, my ideal place to live. We have had 7 cases in my county and no deaths from COVID.

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  24. Youth, health & money.

    The Concord Diaspora

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  25. At some point, maybe 40 years ago, I realized that nothing — no cultural resource, no soul-stirring experience, no nothing — was worth living in a big city for.

    Having grown up in and around big cities, about 10 years out of university I realized that I always take my culture with me whenever I go and having ready access to what large cities provide is simply unnecessary.

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  26. A bank account with a fat balance would be what it would take. The only downside of suburbia is that it tends to be very car-dependent. At least in the US it is. Having grown up in one where we couldn't go anywhere in the summer, when out of school, since we couldn't afford a second car, my mother and I were trapped at home. I despise car-dependent suburbs.

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  27. I'm not rich enough nor poor enough to live in a big city. It was the same way over 40 years ago when I worked in DC. I enjoy visiting cities and I've recently visited London, New York, Paris and San Francisco. I can think of nothing that would entice me to move to any of those places. If I win the lottery though, I'll probably have a place in Scotland.

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  28. Oh my, I like wearing a Barbour and tattersall when the occasion calls for it, I hope others don't see that and assume I share these xenophobic views!

    Personally, I've enjoyed city living (Chicago) until the shutdown. Now I yearn for a backyard, a home office, and some good trails. When this all blows over, I assume I'll fall in love with my city again.

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  29. Facts would be terrific and are clearly needed. Unfortunately, your “facts” are woefully skewed. Many facts would help explain such a complex issue. Legal facts, economic facts, political facts, cultural facts, educational facts, psychological facts, sociological facts, and other facts. You have reduced it down to one salient characteristic you think justifiably explains it all. Reductionism is neither explanatory nor a justification. Not only is it intellectually dishonest, it belies a racist world view. Please stop.

    Aiken

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