When I read the stories of big city lifestyles I'm amazed so many people opt-in to it. Traffic, noise, concrete everywhere. Yuck - but to each their own.
I'll take my country life as a remote worker going on 8 years. Trees, forest, wildlife, fresh air, backyards. 5 minutes walk or 1 minute drive to a shop for groceries, hardware, lumber, restaurants, kid parks.
Everyone knows each other. Very tight knit community.
Don't even get me started on cost of living differences. I'll never leave.
Remote work really levels the playing field and unlocks a lot of potential for rural and small towns. All happening at a time when the staple of resource extraction is declining but global connectivity is increasing. There may be a bright future for small towns yet.
It just felt like your comment, despite reiterating the parent's "to each their own" caveat, was either a total non sequitur or pushing the perspective that if you don't like city life you must just not understand it.
> When I read the stories of big city lifestyles I'm amazed so many people opt-in to it. Traffic, noise, concrete everywhere. Yuck - but to each their own.
I was simply explaining some of _my_ reasons for opting in to it. It's a tangent from the original post, I realize. I could easily come up with reasons a person might enjoy a rural or small town lifestyle, but here I simply gave my reasons for enjoying the urban life I currently live, even though I too have the option of going the remote work route.
No offense intended.
sorry why do you presume they're superficial? or i should sat why do you exalt your small town interactions over someone else's big-town interactions? i've lived in both a smalltown (currently) and brooklyn ny (previously) and the depth of the interactions is absolutely about the same.
btw we can all play presumptuous and haughty: in your "tight-knit" community no one will help you/acknowledge you as soon as you diverge from highly constrained cultural norms even a small iota - where as in my diverse working class neighborhood in brooklyn that wouldn't be the case. what do you say? not true? color me just as suspicious as you color yourself if i claim to you that i actually had deep and genuine conversations with my neighbors, grocers, and occasionally fellow subway riders.
It was just an unkind jab at the fact that the examples given of exposure to different people and cultures were helping someone cross the road and giving up a seat on the subway. That jibed with my experience living in NYC - it's not particularly conducive to expanding your horizons; the diversity is there if you really want to go out and meet people, but mostly it will be courteous distance on the street and most of your deep interactions will be within your filter bubble, same as anywhere.
Unlike my current town, NYC has mosques, but I didn't actually learn anything about Islam or Muslims living there, compared to when I actually lived in the Middle East and made friends for life there. I ate at Chinese restaurants and shopped in Chinatown but wouldn't say I gained any cultural insights. But living in Singapore for a year and making friends with Singaporeans, Indonesians, and Chinese people - there I learned a lot.
I think you might be unduly defensive. I interpreted the "superficial" to mean "without the intimacy of an established relationship", which isn't particularly controversial afaict.
Humility is an aspect that’s often missing from these urban vs. suburban/rural discussions. Living in an suburban community and working in tech, it’s very easy to have a high opinion of yourself. Moving to SF quickly humbles you as you are suddenly surrounded by people much smarter than yourself. You feel a need to focus on what you’re uniquely good at and work on continuing to improve your skills in that niche. That was my experience anyway.
Public transportation is great, except for rush hours. And the nights and weekends scheduling.
Don’t get me wrong: we loved our time in NY (and, like most people in NY we also hated it; it was a bipolar relationship). And my career might takes us back that way. But I hope not. It’s not really built for single income families raising multiple children.
I’m perfectly happy if you’re happy with the city trade offs. Because they are just trade offs. But I prefer the trade offs of living in unincorporated county outside a small city.
I grew up on what was practically a nature preserve in rural midwest, and I find Prospect Park is so beautiful, great for a walk or a jog, and has such a friendly community with the farmer’s market, weekend off-leash dog hours, kids programs, free BRIC concerts at the bandshell.
I find quality of life solely on factors like enjoyment of nature, community belonging, diversity of activities, is just so, so much greater in New York. The direct access to private nature areas in the rural and suburban midwest has plenty of upsides, but truly was much less convenient, much less community-oriented, much less diverse in terms of both cultures and variety of free or cheap activities.
I had similar experiences in Boston too. I joined a geocaching group that frequently met in Middlesex Fells. It’s borderline impossible to find such a group in the midwest that actually has meaningfully large membership and meaningfully diverse variety of people regularly participating.
I do agree that one has to weigh the cost tradeoffs carefully with cities. But I think what you get out of a big city is very different than the way you put it. It’s more about the vibrancy and diversity of the community, and that you can find inclusiveness no matter what walk of life you come from.
Life is about trade offs. We did our best to make Brooklyn home for our family and didn’t expect to leave. There were some incredible highs. There were also some very challenging lows.
We spent a lot of time in Prospect Park and were very blessed to live within walking distance. I would frequently meet the family in the park for picnic dinners on the way home from work (in the spring / summer). But as a counter example, I now live 5 miles from a massive state park. Yesterday we spent the morning swimming in the lake and the evening hiking to a waterfall (where we then climbed down the rock wall for a dip). It’s a very paddle friendly park as well and we plan on buying kayaks and paddle boards for next season (we only just moved here in February).
The best part of all of that is that it was just a normal Saturday. No pre-planning required. When we got home and realized my son had left his life jacket at the lake, I made dinner while my wife circled back for it (okay, I ordered pizza from my phone...).
I will say, we miss Seamless. Like a lot.
I’m on the fence about cities being more inclusive than towns. As a family we’re very active in church and community service so YMMV, but I find no shortage of opportunities to work, play, worship, and serve with people of varying backgrounds. There are certainly fewer types of communities (Jews and Muslims are underrepresented in the south). But I’m not completely sold that’s the same as inclusivity. My experience in the city was that bias exists in humanity no matter how many people you cram into a square mile. It can take different forms in the city, but it certainly isn’t absent.
I more meant that in rural / suburban American it can be really hard to have a community if you’re interests or beliefs are not mainstream to that area.
If you’re vegan, you like frisbee, long-form board games, medieval architecture, unusual (in America) world sports, have non-mainstream religious or political views, want to attend tech meetups, etc.
Near large culture hubs, despite the fact that racism or bias exists in cities just like it exists everywhere, you can find a community no matter what itbis that you love or value ir what to try or identify with.
Speaking from experience growing up in small town Midwest and Louisiana, both in rural areas and small cities, and then living in the Midwest as an adult, this is not true unless you’re right in a big city. Sure, there’s the usual superficial politeness granted to you even if you are “weird” relative to the area, but really it’s obvious your mere existence makes people uncomfortable and your hobbies or views or whatever “aren’t right.”
Small communities don’t tolerate wide varieties of weirdness (incidentally, Paul Graham has spoken about how this is a mainfactor that allows a city to develop into a successful tech center).
So, sure. If you “fit in” and all you want in life is the particular set of options that the one small town offers and people mostly see you as One Of Them, then it’s fine.
But this is obviously not scalable to a large group of people, who will have all kinds of conflicting weirdness.
I'm still unconvinced that cities tolerate "weirdness" better than small communities. I'm a religious conservative who works in the tech scene. People were "superficial[ly] polite" (for the most part), but it was obvious my "mere existence [made] people uncomfortable and [my] hobbies or views or whatever '[weren't] right.'"
I didn't move away from Brooklyn because of that, but it was a very real thing. I was fortunate enough that when I moved to the city I was already pretty successful in my career. I didn't have to kowtow or apologize for who I was because I didn't really have to care what people thought of me personally. But my kids definitely caught flak for it (even from the parents of their friends -- it was strange seeing a 40 y/o father debate the existence of God with my then 10 y/o daughter who finally, in exasperation said, "Listen, I'm just religious, okay?").
But I completely agree with tech meetings, veganism (though it's growing in popularity even in smaller towns), frisbee, etc. That is a definite trade-off. I used to grab lunch with players from pretty much any and every company. This week I'll grab lunch with a guy from Shipt, and... that pretty much sums up Birmingham.
The trade offs are very real. I happen to be at a point in life where my community consists largely of my wife and kids. Once the kids are gone (or once they bore of me), I'll probably reinsert myself into other social groups. But right now, I don't want to spend Saturdays playing frisbee with other adults. I want to spend it hiking with my kids.
Those things are possible in the city. But as a family we prefer the trade offs of living in the county. I think the secret is that you don't have to have the same preferences that I do. And if you find the city more embracing of your goals, appetites, life style, or whatever then that's great. But every time I sit in my car all by myself in near silence, I breath a long sigh of relief.
As a Jewish family in Germany (currently living in Berlin) I wouldn't want to raise my children in a small eastern community where they will be the only Jewish kids in school (I get the impression in North America anti-semitism is a pretty fringe phenomenon, but it's still "a thing" in Central Europe).
And similarly I probably wouldn't have wanted to be the only Muslim family in your town.
I think Anti-Semitism is fairly rare (though it does exist). But it would be hard being one of the five Jewish families in my entire high school. I was good friends with them, and Christmas was a hard time for them. It would be very challenging to be a Muslim in good parts of America (outside of major cities; where, if we're being honest, it still isn't easy being Muslim).
It doesn't always stem from malice (sometimes just ignorance) but it very much exists.
And yes there are also some such issues in "Arab ghetto" neighbourhoods in Berlin and Paris but at least here I find it much easier to avoid by simpley not living in those neighbourhoods (& of course neither all muslims nor all working class europeans are anti-semitic, but you don't need a large % of the population to cause trouble/discomfort).
Having lived in Manhattan I appreciate being able to visit when I like, for as long as I choose (working remotely).
I'm reluctant to be a complete relativist about these things, even though I recognize that I'm biased. The fact is that a demogogue who wants to drive a wedge of fear between people (no need to state who I'm talking about) has a much harder time doing it in cities. All perspectives arent equal in this respect - some perspectives are based on ignorance and fear, and some are based on the actual experience of interacting with the kinds of people we're supposed to be afraid of.
As to the high correlation between population density and political affiliation, I don't see that as being particularly mysterious, even if it is a complex topic. And having recently hosted a fundraiser for a prominent progressive candidate I can attest that fear is being effectively employed across the entire electorate.
NYC is much larger than Manhattan.
My Dinner with Andre
> [In NYC he heard] the enormous hiss of egos at various stages of inflation and deflation
And as you point out, living in a big city can be akin to traveling.
This article isn't a about nor does it require defend of living in NYC or it's people. Your property value isn't going down because 3 people move to Ohio
The irony being you refuse to or are side tracking the thread and conversation immediately to talk about how misunderstood NYC is.
NYC doesn't need defending, millions live there. Tons of articles about it constantly. Media made there, hyped to infinity. It's not the topic of the article either.
What I noticed is many people from NYC only see other places as not NYC and complain about how they aren't. Talk about the article and the virtues of a small town. Have you ever lived in one or are you just a NYC snob like the lady was for Truckee? Discuss the article not threadjack it to extoll NYC.
Sure you know plenty of people on the street. Do you know 80% of them like you did in highschool? No, you don't, you don't know your whole burough. That's the point of know lots of people.
Not everything needs to be about you or NYC or defended. Many people here barely know small towns are an option or how cheap and welcoming they can be.
Not everyone needs to eat waygu steak every day... Chicken and tofu are also fantastic in their own ways.
My problem with your comment stems from me feeling you haven't lived in a small town ever and so only see it from the side of NYC as many big city and small town folks both do. NYC is a crime ridden cesspool with no parking. NYC is a walkers Utopia with tons of culture. Small towns are filled with Hicks who know nothing. Small towns are filled with many self sufficient who have a direct and obvious impact on the community and I know them like family (and like family I hate about 30% of them)
One terrible thing about nyc is the subway. It’s been getting worse every year.
I lived in NYC (read, Manhattan) for 4 years. Sorry but if you’re saying you lived in “the City” and you’re talking to non New Yorkers, the other boroughs don’t count cause they are equally unique in their living experience when compared to non NYC living. For instance you mention jogging through a Hasidic neighborhood and I instantly know you are 90% not talking about Manhattan and I also know what Hasidic means (I would venture to guess most Americans do not). I see your Hasidic name dropping and raise you a, I converted to Reform Judaism at Central Synagogue in the City, and there wasn’t even a threat of marriage involved.
I say all of that to make the point that I still agree with the parent’s comment, so much so that I now live in Texas. There came a moment where I had to choose between making work my life, so that I could afford a decent life for myself and any family I would eventually maybe have, or I could make my life my priority, which would mean sometimes not prioritizing decisions that impacted an upward trajectory for my paycheck. If you live in the City and you didn’t arrive there with a trust fund or pre existing network, and even then, you still have to prioritize work, then you’re not gonna have enough money to have a decent sized home (you will still not have a yard) and if you choose to own a car that will be a sizeable expense and you won’t be able to afford family expenses or possible downturns in the economy. Period.
Contrast that to my life in Austin (still a fairly expensive city) where I have a one bedroom to myself that is $500 less than the (actual) bedroom I was renting in the City, an SUV, that I use to tow my sailboat, which I use to go sailing with my friends cause I have free time. And if the economy tanks, I don’t fear I’ll go bankrupt if I don’t get a job in 3 months since I can have savings and there is no state income tax and no city (NYC) tax. And since other people enjoy much the same lifestyle I can develop actual, sincere, non transactional relationships with people since we’re not all jockeying for professional advancement, transient, or tying to get laid every night to fill the vacuum in our soul caused by the lack of real relationships. (But there is 6th street, if one gets the urge). And we have parks. And we have an awesome economy. Etc etc.
Yes I understand Austin is not a small town. It’s a good compromise for me. My sister lives in a legit small town a short drive from here. Much like the small city I was raised in, Kingsville.
Anyhow. Very much agree with the parent comment. And tired of people romanticizing the City, like name dropping, and not being called out on it.
The second paragraph of the parent comment expresses some incredulouslness that anyone would want to live in a big city. I was specifically addressing that by giving my reasons that I love the city I live in. I totally understand that personal preference comes into play. This is my preference, and those are my reasons for it.
The bigger issue is what you stated: cost of living. It's not as bad here as San Francisco, but I believe strongly that unaffordable cities is one of the biggest, and least appreciated, problems we face as a society. As I said, I think there are many good reasons a person would want to live in a city. I don't think the fact that it's unaffordable for them to move here is a law of nature. It's a problem - crisis, actually - that we should be tackling with the same energy we would any other emergency that has such material impact on so many citizens.
Yeah I was told I name dropped “NYC”/ “the City” constantly after I moved to Texas. I was just trying to share my life experiences. And they happened to take place in a specific geographic location. But, funny enough, I then remembered when I first moved to NYC I gave my friends a hard time for calling it “the City” as if there were no other cities. Full circle.
I think the issue is, not engaging with the parent comment’s subject matter. Which was, small towns are finally getting a little love. To generalize, consider the Black Lives Matter movement. As a white person (which is a legitimate place from which to have life experiences, which you can legitimately share with friends and strangers), I really shouldn’t have gotten on the soap box during that time and place. During that time and place I should really let people in the BLM movement have the stage. So yeah, time and place. Not talking about your own perspective does not necessarily minimize your perspective, and sometimes by being perceived as fighting for soapbox time it can come across as minimizing other’s perspectives. Let’s all let the the small town have it moment, cause it kinda hasn’t been getting the love it might should be getting.
Since I am in a small town that doesn't have a Jewish population, I mostly think of B&H Photo and what days we cannot places orders. It struck me as odd when both myself and my boss added the Jewish Holidays to our calendars because its really important information. I guess we learn things in the oddest places.
Later that day I exclaimed my surprise to an old friend who lives in NYC that B&H Photo was closed on what, in my country, is the biggest shopping day of the week.
I just got a look and an explanation of the word "putz" in return.
I think this counts as a good example of how a big city was able to broaden the experience of this small town lad. :P
> 5 minutes walk or 1 minute drive to a shop for groceries, hardware, lumber, restaurants, kid parks.
Almost every small town in Ontario is car-centric. The big ugly parking lots push the shops further from the street. There is no bike lanes to speak of. The coffee shops don't feel lively, they feel depressed, and the coffee is usually Tim Hortons or worse.
What I want is a hipster small town, built around bikes and walkability. Close enough to a lake to be fun, but not so close to make it all about "water life". I want a city where artists and computer scientists can both afford to be there. High property taxes, but with a per-person dividend / basic income so the effective property taxes are progressive.
The best thing about living here (coming from the 'states) is the density in the cities and towns. You can realistically have a town with a vibrant center full of cafes, bakeries, a bar/brasserie or three, and a grocery store in a town of a couple thousand people, all living within the area equivalent to 4 square city blocks.
Walk a few hundred yards the other direction and you'll find yourself in the countryside.
It's quite refreshing after living in an American suburb where you can drive in a straight line in any directions and pass nothing but Albertsons, Starbucks, Apartment Complex, Walgreens, Albertsons, repeat for 20 miles... without ever escaping into the country.
But why can't Ontario have a town like this? Why can't we get 5000 people to kickstarter a town? Have really strict building codes and really pro-human policies.
Edit: What town are you, if you don't mind my asking. I'm planning on going back to Europe at some point.
To answer your question, it is because sprawling car-centric localities are the cheapest way (in the short term) to maximize the living space/cost ratio. European style cities don't spring up from empty fields anymore because they are more expensive to build. Your comment about building codes is telling. European cities did not form in the way they did because of building codes. They formed for economic reasons in a pre-industrial era. The same way American and Canadian, and newer European cities sprawl for economic reasons. That you bring up building codes is a tacit acknowledgement that to make a medieval city layout now would require forcing builders and buyers to pay more than they would otherwise.
Anyways, a medieval city layout nowadays would still be an inauthentic pastiche, sort of like a Tudor-style Celebration, Florida. Form ever follows function, and all that.
Once you change from thinking "oh we just must have cars here" to thinking "how would we solve problem x without cars" the whole city can be made to be more vibrant. We can't let our children out of our sights in modern cities they're so dangerous. That's madness!
In terms of authenticity, here I partially agree with you. I do not intend to emulate an ancient European city. That's dumb. But I don't want the city to end up looking like shit like most of Canadian cities do with their completely mismatched building styles, billboard ads, tacky chains, and telephone poles all over the place. Instead, at the city formation you get good estimates of what types of natural building materials are near by (the types of wood, clays, stone, etc) and you hire teams of architects and city planners to design a set of cohesive style guides. There should be room for custom flourish, but the city should still look like a cohesive whole. There is no reason to use concrete for anything other than subterranean piles. Use large flat rocks for streets. Yes rock streets are more expensive but they look much, much better and because we have density from day one they might be 10x the price but we should only need 1/10th of the pavement by area.
Also, by creating a hard perimeter around the city, there could be a real set of community gardens just outside of the city for things like herbs and other expensive plants. We wouldn't have to choose between city life and connection with nature.
That has nothing to do with cars and everything to do with culture. I grew up roaming freely on streets filled with cars in the 70s/80s.
Banning cars won't fix helicopter parenting.
Some actually did. Lisbon expanded rapidly in the 1960s, and the new construction was designed on purpose to be 4 or 5 stories high with shops on the ground floor and with primary schools and churches as main foci of community interaction. If anyone wants to check out Google Streetview, the neighbourhoods northwest of the Zoo and east of Campo Grande park are typical.
But in America it seems that no architect made it back alive from WW II, and that's why their cities are so awful.
And part of the reason for that is that many towns buy an off the shelf municipal code called municode to start from.
You can get close, but it is expensive. You'll need pedestrian tunnels. Given that people won't be on the streets, you don't need to be concerned about traffic on the streets.
However, a common lament in these towns is that housing costs are increasing as people move there from the cities. It can be... socially awkward... to be a carpetbagger in a place where everyone knows everyone else's story. Maybe that's why you've mentioned taxes and basic income in your comment.
If they are popular that is a good reason to build more of them.
The first could be solved by something like the UK's New Towns, although that requires a level of government involvement that is likely politically impossible in the US and perhaps Canada, as well.
The second is the more important issue, since, based on many of the comments, people don't seem to merely want to live nearby to another few thousand people. They also want lakes, forests, mountains, or some other geographic or natural feature. They also need provisions and Internet, which means pre-existing infrastructure nearby.
I don't know that I agree. I live in a small Ontario town. Pop. ~2,000. I don't ever feel the need to drive other than when leaving town to visit people who live outside of town. Everything I need on a day-to-day basis is easily walkable.
> What I want is a hipster small town, built around bikes and walkability. Close enough to a lake to be fun, but not so close to make it all about "water life". I want a city where artists and computer scientists can both afford to be there.
I think you described the Ontario town I grew up in. Pop. ~1,000. Near the lake, hipster town that has a booming (relatively speaking) tech industry. The downside is that everyone wants to live in the kind of town you described, so housing there is now just about as expensive as Toronto. That includes me. I would love to go back. But the costs are tough to justify.
For what it's worth, 'car-centric' has nothing to do with actual automobiles. "Car-centric" is coded language for "unplanned therefore affordable".
Strip malls, billboard signs, 10 lane light intersections, none of this is "car-centric", none of this is designed for cars, no regular person enjoys driving through that. But it's always cheap, so it's everywhere. Those represent an absolute-cheapest-option thinking, ignoring all else. Cars are just as much an afterthought as pedestrians and bicycles and busses are.
Roads that are actually designed for cars are freeways direct to other freeways, with no pedestrians and no bicycles and no oncoming traffic and no stoplights and no intersections ever and parking lots/ramps directly attached to freeway exits. It just so happens, that these are generally the safest roads too (in both US/Canada, and Europe) despite also being the fastest roads. Of course, construction of this rarely-to-never happens, "car-centric" roads rarely get built because it costs a bit more money.
But a 5 lane 'arterial' road, with turn lanes and curb cuts for every random store that wants it? Slap some sidewalks and a bike lane on it? Pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers will hate that, and it's terribly unsafe for all modes, but it's always the cheapest option to go with so it's the default. And it's so cheap that every municipality in the country can build them everywhere without thinking.
"Car-centric" has absolutely nothing to do with cars. "Car-centric" is complaining about areas being having the cheapest possible design (and therefore being somewhat affordable), with an unrelated jab against cars thrown in out of spite.
The US Interstate system and freeways into previously undeveloped land to create new suburbs near large cities would certainly fall under even your definition of "car-centric" design (and this could, arguably, be seen happening in Southern California to this day), but it doesn't in much of Canada.
I do expect some of the design is driven by a desire by citizens to live in low density (the "to each his own" idea brought up elsewhere in the thread), and it stands to reason that people attracted to suburbs would generally be those low-density seekers and would thereby encourage more of that kind of development.
However, that seems insufficient an explanation for a stand-alone town of a few thousand, that isn't a suburb of a nearby city.
Is building "out" really cheaper than building "up" a couple stories?
Maybe it's simpler than that, and city folk fail to understand that small enough towns are actually rural, without central sewage treatment, and every building needing substantial open space for a leach field. Even when centralizing becomes cost-effective, it may only be applicable for new growth, and it will still need land (and of a certain kind).
I visited recently, and if I was single I'd strongly consider moving there.
They wish they had left earlier.
My mother is from one of these small towns and she hates almost every single thing you enumerated:
- "Everyone knows each other" is a nightmare when you're a teenager. News that you did something stupid or peculiar can sometimes get home before you do, sometimes amplified. And if you don't want to be that close to everyone, you can end up being treated as a freak.
- Trees, forest, wildlife, backyards -- also the occasional possibly rabid fox, bugs everywhere, sweeping the leaves...
- Five minutes walk or one minute drive to shop for groceries. If they're out of ketchup, tough luck 'cause the nearest one is thirty minutes away and you have to cross the railroad tracks, too.
To those of us who live in the city, these things don't look bad at all. I'd certainly endure my share of bugs and give up the night life (at least for a while...) for some damn fresh air and being able to see more than five trees at a time. But the allure of large cities for people who grew up in small towns isn't worth understating, either.
(Edit: to be clear -- I'm definitely not advocating for large cities. I was born and grew up in one so I definitely understand where you're coming from :-D)
If you look at cities of 100k+, in the vast majority of them, only a tiny fraction of their residents can walk to a grocery store in 5 minutes. In fact, there are only a 3 very large cities (500k+) in the entire country where the majority of the population is a 5 minute walk from a grocery store.
Edit: certainly a slightly larger city (50k-100k) is better but the parent comment was about country life, hence my comment
In Chile we have lots of stores and services even in quite poor 10-20k towns.
When I was a kid, my grandmother's neighbourhood had two stores. Understandably, besides the basics (bread, oil, flour, sugar, stuff like that) they carried different items, since there was little room to compete on price. So my grandpa, for example, had a veritable stash of his favourite cigarettes, because only one of the shops had them. I'd have to go to both of them in the morning, because my grandfather would send me to buy him cigarettes, and I'd buy myself a 7up -- but the shop that had the right cigarettes only had that dreadful Sprite thing :-).
The first chain store there opened somewhere in the late 1990s, but it was pretty expensive for the locals and it was quite far (~20 minutes walk). Nowadays there are two chain stores and one of them is a little closer (maybe 10-15 minutes of walking).
I found out about the one that's closer the hard way -- my mom has long grown unaccustomed to small town life so obviously she ran out of cigarettes in the evening, only to find out -- much to her horror -- that the shops in the neighbourhood close at 18:00. Guess who valiantly had to chase the ferral dogs away when crossing the railroad :).
Edit: to clarify the mechanism: what happened, in this and in many other small towns, was that a larger chain store in a slightly larger city, or on the city's edge, monopolizes much of the trade. The small family shop is all but extinct in my grandma's town. There is only one left in her neighbourhood, and it carries only the most basic of basics. Oil, sugar, flour, a few brands of cigarettes, water and Coca Cola. Wide access to cars, coupled with frequent commuting and town growth mean that people spend enough time in their cars anyway, so they don't mind stopping to shop. The children shop for their elderly parents and their neighbours once a week or so. There's not much of a need for shopping because almost everyone grows their own vegetables and the like.
tl;dr if a shop is out of ketchup, you're out of ketchup :)
Back to my brother: he has been through a nasty divorce (divorces also happen in small towns/villages) and as such half of the village (the one who “listened” to his ex-parents-in-law) now think that he (my brother) is the scum of the earth. That isn’t good at all for my brother’s psyche. Also, my brother happens to be better at what he does (driving a lorry all over Europe for a living and in his free time raising a couple of cows and making some pretty good palinka-like drink) compared to some other villagers, and because of that those villagers sort of envy him, so much so that some of them have directly approached my brother’s new life companion and have told her about how in fact my brother is a not that big of a deal because he hasn’t accomplished this and that and that other thing. And I could go on and on with examples like these, all of which haven’t directly affected me while living in the big city: “My neighbor thinks bad of me? F.ck him, I don’t care what he thinks!”. The quiet and calmness is pretty nice in the village though, of that there’s no doubt.
Also, the reason cities are expensive is entirely due to the number of people wanting to live there. Setting aside housing demand/supply, cities are more efficient and cheaper than small towns by far. It would be interesting to see how livable small and rural towns would be if it wasn’t for the variety of subsidies the US government offers these areas (subsidized postal services, roads, etc. that are largely paid by people living in cities in the US, where the majority of the economic benefits of the US are generated).
Other measurements like job opportunities also tends to
favor small/mid cities. "U.S. Census Bureau metropolitan area population estimates for 2017, which show a significant increase in domestic migration away from the 53 major metropolitan areas with populations over a million and toward the 54 middle-sized metro areas in the 500,000 to 1 million range." 
As to your point about subsidies...many of those subsidies are for the production of food that the cities obviously rely on. I think it would be interesting to see how livable large cities -- dozens or hundreds of miles away from food sources, waste disposal sites, and water sources -- would be if the true, un-subsidized costs were passed through.
For example, the Philadelphia metro area has over 6 million residents, while the city itself has only about 1.6. Problem is, the metro area includes extremely rural and small towns within about a 1-2 hour drive of the center of the city . I'm not sure I'd consider someone living in exurban/rural Chester or Montgomery counties, 50 miles from the city, to be living in Philly.
>rural and small towns within about a 1-2 hour drive of the center of the city
According to this, the vast majority of the metro area is within 1 hour.
>I'm not sure I'd consider someone living in exurban/rural Chester or Montgomery counties, 50 miles from the city, to be living in Philly.
The number of people living in rural areas is small compared to the people living in closer more densely populated areas. Subtract 10-20% from the population numbers to account for them and you still have a number more useful and less arbitrary than population within city limits.
Not so much in Canada. Small towns (1,000 to 29,999 people) are the fastest growing community type. Large cities (100,000+ people) have lost share of the population. The definition of urban is "a population of at least 1,000 and a density of 400 or more people per square kilometre", so you might hear that urbanization continues (which is true, the rural population shrunk by about the same rate as cities), but that doesn't mean the people are moving into cities.
More people have been becoming surfers than leaving surfing for skateboarding since it was invented.
Yes, this sounds amazing. In fact you've just described exactly what (most) in the big city enjoy about it.
You also described a vanishingly small amount of American small towns. Most are much more akin to suburbs, which to me is the absolutely worst form of living yet invented.
I completely understand those who want to live in small towns/rural area around nature. I completely understand those who want to live in a big city with big city conveniences. I simply do not understand those who want to live in between.
I now live in a quiet and walkable city. Have a huge shared backyard where kids in the neighborhood play. We all know each other, we have Whatsapp groups for the neighborhood (wives created one, husbands, half-jokingly, created another to keep a balance of power). I almost never have to use a car. We have only one.
I never considered moving to a smaller city, but, really, I can see the appeal of not living between tall buildings, with sirens, beeps, engines and the constant hum of large city.
I'm now in San Francisco (for the week) and the constant noise is already getting on my nerves again (happens every time I come here - I'll be cranky for 3 days or so - and, mind you, I've been living in Dublin for only two years and grew up in São Paulo).
I've never lived in, or even seen, a small town in america where this was possible.
I spent a few years growing up in a ridiculously small town where we'd have to drive to the next town over to check out books - and I never missed anything I wanted to read, just had to plan ahead a little.
That's my main problem with it. Grew up in a small city and this was exactly the case. In a big city I can pick the people I want to deal with, in a small town this is inpossible without creating tensions.
For example, there’s a “yuppie” coffee shop and a “hippie” coffee shop. They’re both great, but there’s a noticeable cultural divide and some animosity on both ends. People who have been here their whole lives are starting to get priced out of the area, and they’re understandably leery of non locals. We’ve already had long time businesses shut down because they couldn’t afford rising rents. There’s a vocal group who are very much against new developments that would taint the old charm and probably raise prices.
Our town is actually pretty progressive though, and is already investing in low cost housing, but I doubt that’ll be enough. I see a bright future ahead for our small town, but managing the growth without losing our sense of history and community is going to be difficult.
My neighborhood in Chicago has all of these things and I can walk to the train for work every day.
If you don't mind a bit of privacy invasion, what city/town do you live in? One of the biggest reasons I live in a big city is that I like being able to take a 5 minute walk to get to anything I need. Stereotypical suburbs/rural areas are primarily built for cars, not pedestrians/cyclists.
> Trees, forest, wildlife, fresh air, backyards. 5 minutes walk or 1 minute drive to…
Guessing that the number of places in the middle of a forest with a five minute walk to spectacular shopping are quite rare.
This might be true for you but that's probably because your income is much higher than the median where you live such that you can afford just off Main St is whatever qualifies as central where you live.
By definition not everyone can do that. And I say by definition because:
- Average walking speed is about 5 feet per second
- 5 minutes to just one of the destinations you mention puts you at at radius of 1500 feet
- The average supermarket size is, say, 40,000 square feet 
- Let's assume an entry on each side and a square footprint of 200x200. That doesn't include parking
- It seems ~150 parking spaces per acre is a good estimate , putting the space for each at roughly 300 square feet
- I can't find any stats or the average number of parking spaces for a supermarket so let's go with 100 for 30,000 square feet bringing out supermarket footprint to 70,000
- Assuming these things are circular (best case) and you can walk in straight lines (best case) the radius of the store is 112 feet. The parking lot eats another 38 feet of that
- So the circle for being within 5 minutes is 112 feet + 1500 feet - 70,000 square feet, which we'll call ~8 million square feet.
- Average lot sizes are harder to figure out. There's data like this  but that includes cities. Even in big cities like Atlanta or Kansas City you can see lot sizes over an acre.
- There is also things you need to roads, (more) parking spaces and so on so probably a better way to approach this is houses per acre . Based on medians of 24 acres and 60 housing units, that puts the average house footprint (including ancillary services) at ~18,000 square feet. I actually think that's rather generous too as the figures were for a subdivision. Small towns (with the possible exception of older towns such as what you have in New England) will probably have higher average house footprints.
- That means within our circle we have ~440 houses.
- According to the 2010 census, the average was 2.58 people per household 
- So ~1100 people get to walk to the supermarket in 5 minutes.
- So with 10,000 people, only 1 in 9 has this lifestyle.
- That's just one your points of interest (the market). Add in restaurants, parks and the other things you mentioned and it gets a lot worse very quickly.
My point here is that you are in a privileged position and your characterization of "small town life" is unrepresentative. Most people will have to drive everywhere.
Now granted traffic probably won't be as bad as say LA or Chicago. My point is that being able to walk everywhere in a small town (in the USA at least) is highly unusual, not remotely representative and highly privileged (locally speaking).
I go to a big supermarket 4km by foot and return in a taxi. Cabs are always queueing near the exit. People who can't afford individual taxis or simply bought fewer bags, walk 20 meters to the bus stop to get a shared taxi or any of multiple city buses that pass through that street.
Smaller supermarkets are even closer and tiny grocery stores are in five-to-ten-minute walking range for 80% of the city.
Why? Who cares what decisions people make? I've lived on acreage in the woods, small towns, suburbs, mid sized cities and urban environments and guess what? The only thing I've learned is that each has pros and cons and that every time I've said I would "never" live in one of those situations again I was surprised when I chose to do that very thing.
Why limit your lifestyle options with arbitrary mental boxes? Maybe I'm just getting tired of reading strangers opinions on the internet, it seems like a waste of mental energy...but as you say- "To each their own"
I live in the tiny, 1,000 person, village of Arbonne-la-Foret, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, France. That is, unless you're a rock climber, in which case it's exactly in the center of the largest concentration of fantastic bouldering on the planet. American companies are happy to pay me the same to work from here as from that little Ohio town in the article, or from the Bay Area.
I think the strategy to follow if you're in tech these days is to:
1. figure out the thing you like to do most in life,
2. find the best place in the world to do that thing,
3. move there and,
4. contract remotely for a company based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
And Montana isn't even the biggest state. There are counties in Texas that are too small to have courthouses, so they share them with neighbors. That are not really walking distance. Check out the book "Miles from Nowhere". It tells of two census takers who ran out of gas and were lost for days in a county in populous Oregon.
My definition of remote is likely different from yours. I would define it as no internet access other than satellite, no roads connecting the rest of the country, no waterway access. I would be hard pressed to find somewhere in Europe that is smack dab in the middle of nowhere.
Oregon's population is mostly concentrated in the western 1/3rd of the state. The central and eastern bits have some extremely empty areas. Indeed, SE Oregon is one of the emptiest places in the US outside of Alaska.
We like where we live currently (small town USA), and the thing that really keeps us here is family.
Still, as someone who has (as is still doing) the remote thing (Vlore Albania, Sackville NB Canada -pop <2000) I completely agree :)
I've been trying to figure out what I'd like to do and where for the past 12 months. I've been jumping from one continent to another, living in villages under 50 people and in multimillion metropolises - all this while working remotely for clients in Europe. They didn't care where am I as long as I replied to emails in a timely manner. In South America I had to wake up at 4am and in Asia I would go to sleep at that time, but that's the only inconvenience I had.
p.s. No, good internet isn't everywhere :)
We used to go bouldering in Buthiers, which I'm sure you've visited. It was also the location for the world mountain bike trials championships in the 90's.
One of my favourite places in the area is the sand quarry near Bourron-Marlotte (48.342808, 2.676220). Highly recommend a day trip there.
Some Googling led me to https://www.contractorcalculator.co.uk/contractor_guide_cont...:
>“Although sole traders in France receive no paid time off, extra pay or unemployment benefit, they do have access to the French healthcare system and accrue pension benefits, albeit at a lower rate than an employee.
jasonkester, is this your setup?
I've done the same in England, Spain, Thailand, Colombia, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. And shorter stints in a dozen other countries while traveling.
It doesn't really matter where you set up shop, provided it's cheap to live there and you like it.
Took a few years to work that out though, personally, so I'm glad you asked for the benefit of anybody else who may not realize it yet.
There are a few companies out there that play this game (Gitlab ), but many others (Basecamp ) that pay you what you're worth regardless of location.
Heh, so their answer is to take away (presumably unearned) discretionary income from people who win the location lottery?
How very egalitarian of them.
You might have some advantage that is not even clear to you. Maybe you worked in a big company for 10 years and now can gather work through contacts from there. Maybe your father is well known in the industry you work. Something like that.
Keep in mind that the first 10 odd years of your career out of school should be all about building that advantage. You want to hit your 30s in a state of Embarrassing Employability, where another amazing contract gig is just an email or two, or a Twitter status update away.
Spend your entire 20s amassing a collections of artifacts you can point to to demonstrate how good you are at all this stuff, and a horde of ex-bosses and ex-co-workers to whom your name springs first to mind when asked by somebody who needs a guy to do that stuff if they know The Guy.
So yes, absolutely. Get an advantage. But know that the short list of "built in" ones you gave above is not comprehensive. The best advantages are the ones you construct yourself.
The attitude in your comment was such a bummer I had to log in for the first time in years just to respond. Try to be more positive and go after what you want. Have a good rest of the weekend.
The error in thought is limiting his perspective to people he knows personally, which of course can make it seem unlikely or impossible. For example, I don't personally know anyone who lives and works in Silicon Valley and doesn't struggle to make a living, but I do understand that it would be possible for me to try to do so if that was my desire.
If you think that your success comes from happy thoughts I bet you are in a similar good situation as the bear.
E.g. compare a western european software manager to his developer comrades in eastern europe offices. Independent of his skill he can make $70-150k a year. Most of his programmers will be in other countries where even people 5x his skill and putting in 3x his hours will earn around $18k/year. (Example could be Munich vs Brno, 600 km apart)
Who do you think can achieve more with his happy thoughts?
I don't say "do something for the poor". I don't say "you are bad for having an advantage". What I want to make sure is that one knows about ones advantage and that others can't easily copy it. In fact ignoring that difference is quite assholey.
It's still out of reach for most people in the world, but not even San Francisco can employ literally everyone.
I found even some little things like how people style their hair, if they use face masks to keep their face clean, if they paid for teeth whitening/straightening in the past, can make a difference. In some regards that is attitute, true. But the kind you can't really learn growing up in the countryside for instance, or can't afford from the pay you get in some countries.
One of the best programmers I know has even some black teeth. He'll never be invited to a meeting where financially sound contracts are made.
Last I checked for that was Wordpress and they paid like $1500/month if I remember correctly.
The women are super religious. Think bible quotes as Tinder profiles. And I don't mean "their bios have a lot about religion in them." I mean that's their whole profile. A bible quote.
And I doubt many gender non-comforming people in my age range are out about it. There is no way I'm taking my queer ass to one of the three dive bars to do it the traditional way.
That's not even getting into the lack of entertainment options. This town is at least close enough to Atlanta and Athens for good internet options and reasonable support for LGBT+ people in government. They had updated marriage licenses ready before the SCOTUS ruling.
If you're a straight, white, cis dude who doesn't mind traveling to the nearest city for anything fun to do, knock yourself out. At least get a hotel paid monthly and spend some real quality time in a prospective small town first. Even if you are super default, I don't see how you could enjoy it if you're remotely intellectually curious.
I'm getting out of here ASAP.
The biggest sacrifice is career advancement. I personally don't care because I am considered an older worker...but as a remote employee, it can be more difficult to advance into management etc. I also tend to let others "win" if I have any sort of workplace conflict. Since I am not in the office, I need to make sure no one has cause to talk negatively about me.
Everything else is a positive. I can literally live wherever I want. I have no "commute". I get paid a decent Bay Area wage that is considered very high by local standards. I do not pay CA taxes.
Many companies are still hesitant to embrace remote work but that is changing.
My guess is in twenty years, the remote worker will have higher life satisfaction: much more likely to own a home, much more likely to be able to start a family etc etc.
Another reason to eschew remote is impact. Much easier to have impact and do real, meaningful work from onsite where one can convince people of things and drove companies in certain directions. Imagine Steve Jobs as a remote employee. Maybe this is cynical, but remote is great if all you want from life is to be well paid and code. For many, there's much more.
My advice for any engineers that want to do the remote work thing and still have career advancement is find a "remote only" company.
Everything you said is true for larger orgs who have physical presences. For small shops that have developed remote-only cultures most of those negatives are moot.
If I were ever looking for work again I would only entertain offers from remote-only companies unless I was getting desperate.
I agree, you need remote-first company or at least all-remote team to manage effectively. Politics are always hard but then meritocracy wins. However still I haven't found a good way to break the ice remotely - ocassional team gathering IRL helps a lot.
Disruption idea: remote watercooler/lunch/hallway talks solution.
We live very comfortably here for less than $2k/mo for two people and expect to build a house for less than $150k (including half a hectare of land that we have bought already). I think it's quite easy to retire early in these conditions even on a moderate remote income ($50-60k). Also, Chilean personal income taxes are the lowest in the OECD.
The southern Chilean culture suits me perfectly: there's no tension in the air (especially compared to the US or Russia) and most people are a bit reserved but kind to each other. It's somewhat different in the central regions because of the population density and competitiveness but still great in my opinion.
Neither of us spoke Spanish and it was tough in the first year because we had little time to practice. Overall Spanish acquisition goes quite slowly because we work from home and have met a lot of English-speaking friends but I got to the conversational level in the third year. It's not a hard language after all.
I don't have an immigrant's blog but I made the "Valdivia Guide" site from the previous comment.
However, I did pick a college town, not very far from interstates, Amtrak and a regional airport. So meeting clients hasn't been a huge hassle. And there are interesting communities, including a maker space.
And damn, the vibe is amazing. As much as I come off online as a privacy extremist, I love the intimacy. Neighbors care about each other. There's no need to lock your doors. Neighbors ask about strange vehicles and people. They know you at the post office. I've received mail addressed to just name, city, state and postal code.
But of course, I never talk about Mirimir etc there ;)
I'm living in NYC and looking into something similar. The rent is absurd and the vast majority of the work I do is conducted electronically. I read this article and was like, "Very close to my reaction." I don't want to move to a really small town, but somewhere like Nashville or Columbus, OH is appealing.
There are so many mid-size, low-cost-of-living, vibrant cities to choose from. Baltimore, Pittsburg, Columbus, Cincinnati, Charleston, New Orleans, Nashville, Louisville, ... And these days they all have great co-working spaces.
Not to mention that cities like NYC or LA are so expensive and so gentrified now that artists and other creative people can't afford to live there anymore so they're a lot less interesting than they were 20 years ago anyway. There's a lot of really creative and offbeat electronic music coming out of the American Midwest right now for example.
We moved back to NYC a few months ago.
Nashville was great, but it can’t even come close to touching what NYC offers in terms of culture, diversity, novelty, careers, food, walkability, transit, etc. Not to mention more minor things like multiple international airports, ocean access, architecture, etc.
We have to sacrifice to live here but I now know it’s worth it to us.
It varies from big city to big city, but older areas of cities are usually grandfathered out of ADA regulations that require wider doors, accessibility ramps, elevators, etc. Parking at all in most cities is atrocious, let alone handicap parking with extra room to unload a wheelchair. Wide aisles are a waste of space in dense urban areas but needed if you need to get a wheelchair to the only open table in the back of the room. Shoving your way on to a crowded train car is distasteful when young and healthy but a deal breaker for many. See also availability of handicap bathroom stalls. The list goes on.
I was recently at a museum in a small city and was struck with how many visitors had significant disabilities of various kinds. For all the diversity we come to expect from large cities, this kind of diversity is probably lacking.
I've worked with Meals on Wheels in suburban areas. Often, if the elderly didn't live in a senior community/nursing home or didn't have family nearby, they barely left home because they physically, or legally, couldn't drive. That means they don't see doctors when they need to, and lacked food, medication and basic necessities. Taxis exist, but they're relatively expensive if you're retired and living off of Social Security.
One thing I wonder, having seen a few articles recently about people leaving big cities, is whether this is a new trend or simply the same thing that happens every generation as people grow older and their priorities change?
I don't think so - not in general. I think it largely depends on the economical situation. My grandparents (and with them many others) have done the exact opposite because it made economical sense back then.
Some of my best friends also have jobs that allow them to live in the city they want to live (Tampa area) while working for companies in locations that they have no desire to live in (SF Bay area).
I've always felt that remote working was all about making the connection between the desired career and desired lifestyle where in the past if you wanted to work for major firm X you had to live THERE.
I myself work for a SZ based company, moved there from Canada. During production run times I'm in Shenzhen, and the rest of the time I'm stationed in a random "developing country" trying to "play a big man," fraternise with local business and political establishments, trying to win bets.
We have few Americans in the company, all of them are from "flyover" states. They all say China is a way better bet in moving up the ladder for them than Silicon Valley.
She’s been there for 4 years now so it must be going well - her house is amazing there too.
Many 3rd world countries have issues with government-provided infrastructure: security, healthcare, schools, etc.
But there’re quite a lot of 1st & 2nd world countries with reasonable cost of living but good quality of life. Montenegro’s one of them (that’s where I currently live) but there’re more, e.g. most countries in Eastern or Southern Europe have similar qualities.
In CA I have endless opportunities, events, family activities, and access to a huge variety of landscapes. Having both the ocean and mountains within easy reach is a big advantage. Food is also so much better out here. And then the people -- it's nice to live around people who think and feel the same way.
I sometimes think through moving back, or somewhere else with low cost of living, but I'm not willing to give everything up.
I'm a 3 hour drive from the ocean, 30 minutes from decent mountain hikes (not as good as the Cascades, but decent). The food here is not as varied as Seattle. To get the same variety, I have to hop in the car and head up to Ashville, down to Atlanta, or 30 minutes into Greenville (whose food scene is improving). That said, I'm currently in walking distance of a great Thai place, a really good microbrewery, a great farm-to-table place, a great Mexican place, a really good seafood place... So, that's good enough for me. Politically, this is a conservative place, but not as much a you'd think, and Ashville, which is ~1 hour away, is as liberal as Seattle, I'd wager. So, you can definitely find a nice group of folks who think the way you do, if you don't feel like hanging out with a more diverse group.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this would be a dealbreak for anyone for whom ocean access is even moderately important. Even the greater Portland, OR area being 2 hours away (assuming no traffic, which is never a safe assumption for those routes) was a big enough impediment to a friend of mine who is a CA expat there, that he considers casual day trips out of the question.
> not as good as the Cascades, but decent
> food here is not as varied as Seattle
Ultimately, I think this is the big takeaway.. there are places that may be way less expensive, as you say, but many amenities (for lack of a better term) are only kinda-sorta comparable if one squints hard enough.
If those amenities are central to ones lifestyle and perception of quality of life, that approximation isn't going to cut it, no matter how cheap it is. Some people may well overestimate the importance of such amenities, but others may underestimate them because they take them for granted, if they've lived in certain West Coast cities long enough.
It's interesting that more people don't move to places like this. Perhaps the difficulty of obtaining well paid work is the hard part.
While it has its upsides, which are obvious, there are some downsides.
Winters can feel long. Like 9 months long. The “slack” season between spring snow melting and summer can feel never ending. Same with fall; too cold to do much, but no snow. Town is empty, businesses shut down and shorten hours.
It’s easy to get feel isolated. It’s easy to not see much sun shine for days or weeks at a time.
January and February are generally great, but tourists can get annoying. Same with July and August. 4/12 would recommend.
Why not just cross the border? Incline Village is great and you avoid CA taxes
There are perks like having a 4500sq ft home on almost 2 aces of land for a mortgage much smaller than what I see a studio rent for in SF. On the other hand there's only a couple of truly good restaurants in the area, the rest is low end fast food (McDs and the like). The nearest Chipotle, for instance, is 45 minutes away. And the night scene.. it ends around 10pm.
If one relies on work in the Bay Area, the remoteness can add a bit of anxiety. Driving to the Bay Area can also be a drag.
Main downside of moving to a small town if you’re LGBT or queer is that you’re always going to be the odd one out - at the very least you won’t have much of a dating pool.
The cost of housing is set by supply and demand; allow supply to increase and prices will moderate.
Though I think that's mostly a cop-out, people always blame the newcomers for all the problems -- can't count how many times I heard "Californians are driving up housing prices" during the real estate boom in the aughts. Now it's "the Chinese are driving up housing prices" though I often hear it's still the Californians' fault.
I hate having to be part of this system and resisted as long as I could, but if you don't own property in the UK you are virtually a non-person in some senses.
I'm a property-owner in the UK. Could you explain a bit about what you mean by this comment? I understand that there is a strong desire to own a property, even if most people can't say exactly why that is, but I don't understand the 'non-person' comment at all.
I'd argue that all in all not owning property can hugely affect your life chances here in the UK. You just have to watch one of the TV shows about high court bailiffs or evictions etc. to see what things are like at the sharp end for renters. Do you think I am exaggerating?
In some ways I see the UK as a semi-feudal state. Monarchy, rigid class system, concentration of land ownership in few hands (even worse in Scotland than England), property law that exploits the renter, etc.
I'm not sure what you mean; I can't imagine any circle where anyone would care either way.
> You just have to watch one of the TV shows about high court bailiffs or evictions etc. to see what things are like at the sharp end for renters.
Sorry, I make a point of not watching trash on Channel 5 ;)
> Do you think I am exaggerating?
No, I didn't say or even suggest that - I'm honestly just trying to understand what you mean. Also, you made a good point regarding retirement.
I remember an advert from maybe 15 years ago about a couple selling up to go abroad, cutting from the couple's brilliant new life to their snarky friends at a dinner party, one person saying 'where have they gone' with another responding 'straight to the bottom of the property ladder'. I guess the agency behind it must have thought it would be a familiar concept back then, and the property market has got even worse in the meantime. Middle class Britain can be a competitive place, no? Also I think The Good Life satirised this type of outlook even further back.
I didn't see it, but I'm not sure the point of the scene you mention was 'property snobbery'; it sounds like it was perhaps a dig at those people with a chip on their shoulder who hate when others have something they don't and will grasp at any pathetic attempt to mock them.
'Renting carries a stigma. "There is a social expectation to own a house at a certain point. You're made to feel like a second-class citizen if you rent."'
'But in the UK it can feel like a second-class system. There are limited protections'
And the ad would have no poignancy unless there were something recognisable about there being status attached to property, would it?
Anyway I think you are being deliberately obtuse or picking up on my choice of words whilst ignoring the main point, which is that property ownership is a critical differentiating element in life chances in the UK, and with that I bid you adieu.
I was absolutely not. I am however, also very much done here.
I see remote workers as an equalizer / booster for communities that have a small economy with little outside interaction with the larger economy. I’m thinking of small rural towns, groups of 2,000 ppl or fewer that are geographically isolated.
It has a feel of utter isolation but the town is big enough that it isn't quite like living in Antarctica.
Still more desirable to be the creative in the giant loft in the city doing really interesting or weird stuff that has no discernible market value except that the opaque market valued it for millions anyway.
You aren't going to have any of that in Small town, Anywheres. Just a few graphic designers that suddenly have a manageable cost of living, I can admit there is utility in that. I guess.
I also think that people from small towns can give you a different perceptive on ideas and life that you can't get anywhere else.
Also i find it ironic that despite all our advances in technology most tech companies insist on people working in office.
5x lower rent prices than in SF (https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...).
Thanks to that I an spend most of my time on side projects. It wouldn't be possible in Bay Area.
A few of the takeaways for me:
- General rule, a city can support 1 creative for every 1,000 people
- First mover advantage: small towns see creatives as novelty and are willing to assist.
- Benefits creatives moving to small town, but with an existing "big city" network
- Lowered cost of living means increased budgets for passion projects and less team dedicated to paid, professional work
I spent a summer in Sardinia a few years ago. I didn't meet anyone who was a programmer like myself, but I met plenty of people who taught me about food, literature, philosophy, herding sheep, and how to live simply.
I fully understand the appeal of SF and I know that there's more to SF than Silicon Valley, but I'd much rather live somewhere where I'm surrounded by people that I wouldn't normally meet. I feel like those environments give the greatest opportunity for growth and expansion of my personal perspective.
That's why it's difficult for me to even think about moving back to Italy eventually: I am not sure I will like it there.