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Cause major metros are expensive as hell, they usually soft-ban children and parenting, they are openly hostile to quick/reliable transportation, and generally depend on lots of labour from other slightly-poorer non-local people to remain viable.

If you carefully curate your life in such a way as to have very few responsibilities or needs, city living can be a lot of fun. I get why people like it, I liked it too. And if you are wealthy, you can buy your way out of a most of these problems.

But for regular, average people, making regular average wages, city living is mostly just a long list of painful drawbacks, and most regular people couldn't afford it even if they were willing to put up with all of that.

> soft-ban children and parenting

Could you elaborate on that? My experience thus far as a parent of small children in one of the 3 metros listed in TFA has only strengthened my resolve to not move to a small city. They're just so far ahead of the smaller cities I've looked into on so many things - activities, parks and playgrounds, free public pre school, ease of locomotion for kids who aren't old and wealthy enough to drive a car. . .

I'm pretty sure the only thing other places have on us is the square footage of the house. Which, with so much cool stuff to do out in the world, we don't really end up making too much use of the square footage we have, anyway.

We go visit the grandparents in a metro of only half a million people, and by the end of the visit the kids are half crazy from lack of opportunities to get out of the house.

Roughly speaking, San Francisco has approximately as many children aged 0-6 as they "should" given their adult demographics, and half the older children. The likely culprit is public school desegregation policies, which result in schools that are excessively far from home. Parents have to choose between making their children endure an hour or more of commuting each way, homeschooling, or moving out of the city.

I don't blame them at all for moving out at that point.

It's also worth noting that San Francisco is not one of the metro areas mentioned in the article.

> They're just so far ahead of the smaller cities I've looked into on so many things - activities, parks and playgrounds, free public pre school, ease of locomotion for kids who aren't old and wealthy enough to drive a car.

My guess is that you're not in Los Angeles.

LAUSD is among the worst-performing school districts out there, and manages to outrank peers only on two metrics - the numbers of worker strikes / walkouts, and the rate of losing students.

Then there's an elementary school student stabbed by a homeless person every now and then http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/metro-charter-student-att...

Could you elaborate on that?

Not the OP, but can share my perspective.

Say, I want to take my 7 yo daughter to the Natural History Museum in London. The process looks like this:

- walk to the train station

- take a train to London Bridge station

- walk to the tube station, take a train, then another one.

By the time we get there she doesn't want anything. She wants her hot chocolate in the cafe and get back home.

The same process in the US outside of big city:

- drive to the museum

Large U.S. cities are very different from big cities in rest of the developed world. I live in NYC. I've spent a lot of time in places like London, Tokyo, Sydney, etc.

London has a higher standard of living in many respects. The Tube is cleaner, operates more efficiently and you don't run into homeless and crazy people as often. Public spaces are more respected.

NYC has garbage all over the place outside of Manhattan and major social problems (homelessness, racial disparity issues that lead to resentment and crime). The school situation is horrible compared to the suburbs. These issues stem from America's historical racial problems. American's don't want to invest in public transit because many people think public transit will bring crime and underrepresented minorities. Schools in cities are bad because of a history of segregation. Garbage is strewn about the streets since public services are cut and people don't respect public spaces.

However, if you're rich and live in Manhattan you can largely avoid these issues by sending your kids to private schools and living around other rich people. Streets are cleaner, even subway stations are better.

Ugh. I'm not sure what are you talking about.

Manhattan, especially the midtown, is probably the dirtiest part of New York City. Better subway stations in Manhattan? You must be kidding, right?

New York had its share of democratic mayors. New York had a black mayor. I doubt they all were trying to keep non-white people at bay.

Racial issues do exist and they do affect many parts of American lives, but they should not be used to explain all the problems of American society.

Yes, agreed, there are bad stations in Manhattan too, but the nicest ones are in Manhattan, especially on the new Upper East Side extension and 7 line.

I've overly simplified why American cities are the way they are. It's not just racial issues, but general lack of public funding, political reasons, etc. Having said that, places like London and Tokyo don't have the same overt racial issues as NYC. I often see homeless people and panhandlers in the subway who are down on their luck, often with psychological problems. They are frequently non-white and it's sad that the city isn't taking care of them. I don't see that in large international cities in other developed countries to the same extent. In London, for example, I rarely see non-white people in such dire circumstances in public areas compared to NYC.

My general point is that cities like London, Sydney and Tokyo are cleaner, nicer and have better public services. Personally, I would feel more comfortable raising a family in those cities rather than a U.S. city. In the U.S. with a family I think it's better to raise a family in the suburbs, but that's my personal preference.

In a rural environment, you could just kick them out of the house and tell them not to be back until dinner time

Probably not meaning to refer to the city as a whole but most of the things you might do in a city. There are parks and child care centers in a city, but there just aren't a lot of places to bring tottlers.

Swanky restaurant? Get the evil eye. On a bus? Get the evil eye.

And if the transportation is free that doesn't always mean it's convenient. If they gave me free bus access I still wouldn't use it as many area buses are 30-60 minutes off schedule. I don't plan my day with that much freetime to spend waiting on transit.

> Swanky restaurant? Get the evil eye. On a bus? Get the evil eye.

I'm very curious which city that is.

I bring my kids on public transit all the time, and rarely get the evil eye. I take the kids to a couple of the nicest restaurants in our neighborhood on a fairly regular basis. The staff know their names and people who aren't even serving us that time stop to talk to them. And yeah, one of them is a toddler.

Buses. . . I don't know LA that well, but NYC and Chicago are both "buses every 10 minutes" cities. If they're more than 10 minutes off schedule, it's because something happened. In some smaller cities I've lived, on the other hand. . . it's true, buses could get pretty late.

I'm glad you've experienced better. I've lived in probably 3-4 of the USA's top 100 cities and I have yet to find a place that does every 10 minute bus service, except for the most central parts of the city. Perhaps you live in the core? What is strange to me is that busses that aren't every 10 minutes aren't even GPS trackable on an app or something. If I could do that with a 10 minutes early alarm, that would make the public transit worthwhile again.

Top 3 are way, way, way different than top 100...

apartments big enough for a family can easily cost the entire sallary of a middle class person and more, and thats for a 2 bedroom shithole.

You could pay less somewhere else and get a really nice house on mortgage instead, and actually have something to show for the 40k a year you are throwing into a black hole

So, I don't deny that the housing prices are higher. But the number you threw out there strikes me as off the wall; we're paying a fraction of that for a well-kept 3 bedroom apartment in a 3-flat building across the street from a playground in a nice neighborhood.

That said, perhaps it's worse in other cities?

Yea, and now you have to have two cars (car payments, insurance, gas, car tax = $$$), and you have to worry about your kids getting hit by a car when they're outside of the house, even in their front yard.

Housing in other parts of the country is absurdly expensive too, unless you go to "low-CoL" locales, but then you run into the problem that there's no jobs there, or the jobs pay peanuts, so unless you banked a bunch of money while you were living in the high-CoL area, you're not going to be able to afford one of those nice houses anyway.

>car payments, insurance, gas, car tax = $$$

This is only as expensive as you make it (gas notwithstanding).

>and you have to worry about your kids getting hit by a car

There's a really simple solution to this. Don't worry. There's plenty of things to irrationally worry about in a city too if you want to do that.

>Housing in other parts of the country is absurdly expensive too,

Outside of places where rich people congregate they're really not.

>locales, but then you run into the problem that there's no jobs there, or the jobs pay peanuts,

So commute somewhere you can find a good job. When you're not stuck in bumper to bumper gridlock it sucks a lot less.

>so unless you banked a bunch of money while you were living in the high-CoL area, you're not going to be able to afford one of those nice houses anyway.

This is pure BS. The people that live there afford the houses somehow. Considering that mortgage lending is fairly standardized at the high end it still shouldn't be any harder to afford a local house on a local salary, if it were nobody could get that loan.

> Housing in other parts of the country is absurdly expensive too

No, this is easy to refute with a cursory look at the data.

Nationally, US median household income is 63 K (source: https://www.sentierresearch.com/pressreleases/Sentier_Househ...)

Nationally, the current US median house value according to Zillow (2019) is 229K (source:https://www.zillow.com/home-values/). This includes houses not up for sale.

The median value of houses listed for sale is about 290K, and the median value of houses sold was about 240K. This discrepancy is because higher priced houses languish on the market and cheaper houses sell more quickly, thus there is divergence between the median price of listed houses and the median price of sold houses.

Let's take the midpoint of that and say a household plunged into the housing market should expect to pay 265K. That's a multiple of 3.9. Let's say this household pays 10% down, then their mortgage payments would be about 1400 (use a mortgage calculator) or about 27% of the median household income of about 5.25K/month. This is affordable.

This is the same for specific areas. Take a look at Phoenix metro, the nation's fastest growing area. Median household income in 2017 was about 52K (source: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/phoenixcityariz...)

According to Zillow, median house prices in Phoenix in 2017 was about 200K. (source: https://www.zillow.com/phoenix-az/home-values/)

This is also about a 3.9 ratio.

But now, let's swing over to NYC. Median household income in NYC is higher than Phoenix, but not by that much. It's 61K. (source: https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/income-taxes/med_hhold_i...). But the median house price in NYC in 2017 was absurdly high, about 600K (source: https://www.zillow.com/new-york-ny/home-values/). That's a multiple of 10.

So your choice is paying a multiple of 4 versus paying a multiple of 10. No wonder that people are moving out if they value owning their own home.

We can also look at home ownership rates. In the U.S. the home ownership rate is about 64%. In NYC, 30% of the units are owner occupied and 70% are renter occupied (source: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/about/2017-hvs...). In Phoenix, 53% are owner occupied and 47% are renter occupied (source: https://www.towncharts.com/Arizona/Housing/Phoenix-city-AZ-H...) Nationally, about 36% of housing units are renter occupied and 64% are owner occupied (source: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=oPyK)

So it's not true that wages are so much lower in the rest of the country that housing is equally unaffordable. Median household income is usually less than 10K higher in the expensive areas, but housing costs are 1/3 to 1/2 of what they are in the high priced areas. That explains much higher home ownership rates outside of the expensive areas.

Hear hear! The City of Cape Town nearly ran out of water a couple years ago. We all learnt to use much less water. People invested in rain harvesting water tanks and grey water systems. Well as a reward for saving so much water the city has now imposed a "water tax" [0] to cover up for the revenue shortfall because we are not using enough water. Parking bays that have been around in the city for over 100 years are now require you to pay a hefty fee to park. Cities are just becoming too expensive and my own personal gut feeling is that there probably to many city managers wanting to earn bonuses by increasing revenue collection.


With you up to the conspiracy theory at the end. Doesn't take a conspiracy; just a need to pay for what things are costing.

I guess in Africa we always suspicious of public officials. Agree with you, I presented no evidence on the conspiracy but we do have loads of examples of corruption at spectacular scale.

Careerism doesn't require a conspiracy

Government official salaries (and bonuses, and stipends) are costs, though.

The point I was trying to make which I didn't do so well is I might object to private companies such Apple or MS increasing prices. I can always opt out of their products. When it comes to services such as water I don't expect government to want to make a profit. I don't have an alternative water supplier. The rate at which the prices of such services is increasing is higher than the rate at which our salaries are increasing.

But at what rate is the water cost increasing? The infrastructure can be a fixed cost. With decreased consumption (grey water conservation etc), fewer are paying for the existing water. So the price goes up. That part makes some sense.

Somewhere there is balance that the city must find. I don't agree that the reward for using less water is a higher price of water.

I think you're trusting the government too much. Even if they aren't exactly making a profit, how much of that money is just being wasted due to poor planning and/or corruption?

I don't think it's about the cost. It's about the quality.

A typical dwelling in the city costs about the same as a typical dwelling in suburbs. The city dwelling will be a two-bedroom flat with a homeless guy sleeping outside; the suburban one will be a four bedroom house with a backyard and a pool.

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