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murderingmouth

Downtown USA - The reasons they're the best

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This is meant to carry over from the "which downtowns are the best" thread.

Since many people seemed to want to know why others were including fairly out-there suggestions for "best downtowns", I thought I'd open this post to see what others see as the priorities for choosing a downtown home (or any home for that matter).

In this age when suburbs have bigger homes, better prices, and allow one to have a garden, car, pool and back-yard grill, what qualities must a downtown neighborhood and dwelling possess to persuade us to choose it instead of a suburban home?

With all the advantages which the layman sees the suburbs as possessing, what specific requirements do you have for a downtown to tilt it in your favor versus a sparkling 3-car-garage suburban house?

----My own Response:----

For me, placing a value on the following are things which a livable downtown promises in greater proportion to a suburban home.:

1) reduced commute time

2) closer shopping and entertainment and

3) more "eyes" on the streets and thus greater safety

What often makes a suburban home win out, however, are:

1) substantially lower price (what's the use of living downtown if I have to live in a crowded hovel with 10 roommates in order to be able to afford it?)

2) privacy (I hate people and don't like being around them)

3) convenience (no need to haul my groceries 2 blocks and 10 stories)

4) car-friendliness (so that I don't have to ask Amtrak or Greyhound's permission in order to leave town, go out at 3am, or go for a Sunday drive)

5) property (I can have a garden, pool, jacuzzi, a few broken-down 70s-era cars, etc all within my personal space where no "community" is able to intrude)

Based on these advantages, in order to live downtown, I would need:

1) affordable: I am solidly middle-class (household income ~80-90k/yr). I'd like to be able to have a nice home which compares in quality, size and amenities to a good suburban home, and for it to be possible for me to own it without having to hook it on crack alley.

2) yard: non-negotiable. I want a garden. It doesn't have to be big, a 10x10 plot of my own personal piece of Earth is all I ask. But it has to be *mine*, and I won't settle for a bunch of pots on a balcony.

3) reasonably nearby, guaranteed parking. I own a car, I will not be giving it up. I don't want to have to move it every night or walk 5 blocks to get to it only to find it towed.

4) safety: no crack dealers on the street, no ubiquitous graffitti, no huge high-traffic surface streets right outside my door.

If all of these 4 needs could be met in a downtown environment, I'd choose it over a suburban home. This is why my list of "best downtowns" included the likes of Portland, Albany, Charlotte, etc. They offer the urban amenities such as transit and proximity to commercial areas, whilst still offering modern, safe and affordable housing downtown.

MM

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For one, I want to be within easy walking distance of everyday amenities. I'm actually looking to move to a new place this week, and one of the things I'm looking for is a very short walk to a major supermarket, preferably one that's open late (if not all-night). I'm also limiting where I look to apartments within a 5-10 minute walk of a subway stop and 24-hour transit, so I don't end up wasting a lot of money on cab fare coming from from bars on the weekend. And though it's good to be convenient to nightlife, if there are nearby clubs that you can hear out on the street, I want to be at least a few hundred feet from them. What's also important to me (and one of the reasons I'm looking for a new place), is that I'm no more than a 25-30 minute commute each way to work. Finally, the neighborhood should be clean and safe.

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What's also important to me (and one of the reasons I'm looking for a new place), is that I'm no more than a 25-30 minute commute each way to work. Finally, the neighborhood should be clean and safe.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

One thing I never thought of til now: most Americans (at least younger, educated Americans) tend to change jobs more often than they change homes.

Are most of you more likely to move for work if you find your commute is inconvenient? Or are you more likely to throw down roots when you find a nice home and only take jobs that are feasible commutes from your home?

In my experience, the more transient someone is, the more likely that they will live downtown, because they don't expect as high a standard of living, or prefer "corporate housing" in one form or another. People who are real corporate climbers tend to work long hours and can't afford the time it takes to commute or the "upkeep" time of having a large suburban home. They also tend to make more money, and thus can easily afford downtown dwellings in the larger cities, which most of us would find prohibitive.

MM

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