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Well, it all comes down to preference. Many people are responding about how they'd never trade the acreage and large house for a small place in a dense city, and that's totally fine. Personally, I'd never trade the density and culture of NYC for something suburban or semi-rural, and that's totally fine too.

It depends on the nature of the city, of course. I live in SF, and I actually find myself lusting for both the peace of the countryside and a more urban city. Seriously, I do mean the peace of a big city.

I actually think many parts of SF are in a suboptimal density band where it is quite dense, but still car dependent, dense enough to add a lot of cars and concrete but not quite dense enough to reclaim some of the pedestrian spaceā€¦ this link explains it pretty well.


Totally agree about SF, it's not dense or diverse enough for my tastes either. For me the ideal setup is a place in a major city like NYC, getting out of the US at least once per year, and some time in the country every so often to reset.

I'm 50-50 on SF. I did grow up in SF (west of twin peaks, though, so a less urban experience even by SF standards), but I was exposed to a more urban experience when I lived for a year in Paris when I was a kid, and later NYC for a year as a young adult (in my 20s).

SF really is pretty diverse, especially in terms of language diversity (I read somewhere that the number of languages spoken by 1000 or more households is higher in SF than even NY, though I don't have a cite for this). SF also does have decent density by US standards as long as you're not talking about NY. (http://beyonddc.com/?p=4808). I also find that getting out of the city for the countryside or natural surroundings is faster and easier in SF than almost anywhere else (ie. the time it takes to get from a very high density urban neighborhood into a very quiet forest or rugged, undeveloped coast is amazingly short in SF). Since I really value both things, I do get a lot out of living in SF, but there is a kind of truly urban neighborhood, with trees and open pedestrian areas, that is much more prevalent in larger, more dense cities like NY or Paris. The images in that link about curb cuts, contrasting the street scape between Park Slope and Dolores Street in SF, pretty much sums it up. The image of Park Slope manages to both peaceful and highly urban at the same time, largely because it's urban enough to give up on cars and driveways. It almost seems like SF got just close enough and then blinked.

Aside from NY, though, and maybe a very few parts of Boston or Chicago, there really isn't much else out there, at least in the US. For the west coast, you just aren't going to find as many of those little red dots clustered (high density), even in Seattle. Interestingly, LA is becoming much more urban. That said, SF's high density urban neighborhoods are pretty limited in size, and they are breathtakingly expensive.

Yeah, being able to get to Muir Woods or other epic nature in less than an hour is a huge plus for SF. Don't get me wrong, SF is a beautiful city, it's just for the price I'd much rather be in NYC.

But you're right, there aren't many places in the US that hit that balance. I grew up around Boston (found it too small and casually racist), lived in Chicago (you still need a car), have spent a ton of time in SF for work, and have lived in Brooklyn now for about 9 years. When I think of where I'd move if I weren't in New York I usually end up with Mexico City, London, Bogota, Medellin, Tokyo, and other cities abroad.

Oh, I agree that it's definitely an individual preference, no judgement on anyone meant on my part. I grew up in a large city, and before settling down here, I've lived in a few places (the most densely zoned probably being northern Italy while in the military). I actually do appreciate urban life and how great it is to be able to either walk or take public transit anywhere I need to be.

But it turns out I really like having space to play more. YMMV.

How long have you been living in NYC?

Not that long, only about 9 years.

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