Some Things I Will Not Miss About City Living


So, there comes a time in many a young urbanite’s life when she has a baby and realizes that this whole city thing she used to love is just not going to work anymore.

Okay, truth be told, there were always down sides to living in an urban area. But before Casey, I was always able to overlook them, or justify them, or accept them. And then our house got broken into when he was two weeks old. And we were there (it happened around 4 a.m.). That is by no means the only catalyst for getting the heck out of dodge. But it might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, or something like that.

It’s a cliche, this whole having a baby and moving to the suburbs thing. And honestly I don’t think we would have even considered it had David not gotten a job in one of the far VA suburbs. But once that happened, I really started to see the potential pluses of moving out there. The only real negative is commuting costs, but that was more than outweighed by the numerous benefits. So we’re moving, and I am more excited about it than I ever thought I would be. Every day now something will happen — routine things, all, but more grating than ever — and I say to myself, not gonna miss that.

So, in honor of our move, a list of some of those things:

In no particular order …

1. Rude people. Drivers who speed up when you put on your turn signal, pedestrians who jaywalk with an irritating sense of entitlement and trust that you won’t run them down, people in Whole Foods who glare at you for taking up space, and everyone who does not smile at your baby even after he smiles at them. People in this city, as much as or more than NYC, are RUDE. I mean not giving up their seat on the Metro for an elderly man or a pregnant woman rude. The South has its issues, but we know about manners.

1b. People who hang out outside no matter how cold or hot it is and talk or play music loudly at all hours. Our neighbor’s place is the hangout house for all the teenagers in this area and sometimes they are obnoxious. Make that most of the time.

2. 45 minutes (or more) to travel 1 mile or less. Enough said.

3. Old house, creaky floors and stairs. Worrying about waking baby it took half an hour to get down with every single step.

4. Churches without parking lots whose parishioners take up every parking spot on Sundays and double park with impunity.

5. Taking baby for a walk in his stroller and worrying about all the exhaust he’s breathing in and whether the loud trucks are hurting his little ears.

6. Bad memories of a certain evil law firm for which I once worked.

7. The choice between spending an hour looking for a parking spot or paying $15 to park in a lot for an hour or two. (And yes, I’m aware of the environmental implications of free parking. Have a kid and get back to me on that.)

8. Having to drive 30 minutes to get to a Chick-Fil-A. 🙂

9. Street sweeping.

10. A general ethic that work is more important than family.

Hmmm, now that I look at this list, a lot of it has to do with cars and driving. Which is a symptom of congestion. Which relates to the whole thing about people being rude. I think the surliness comes from lack of oxygen.

Oh, I just remembered, and must add

11. Difficulty and expense of finding good housing and child care. I kid you not that in the city you have to be on a waiting list for 18 months to pay $1500 a month for day care. Out where we’re going, I found a spot immediately for half that.

12. Arrogance, snobbery, sense of entitlement, being caught up in the rat race and keeping up with the Joneses. There’s a lot of that in DC, and for this humble Mississippi girl it’s well nigh intolerable. Get over yourselves already, people, and figure out what’s important in life before it’s too late.

Of course, all the snobs are WAAAYYYYY too good to live in the town we’re moving to, and I say we’re well rid of them. We will not let the door hit us on the way out.

23 Responses to “Some Things I Will Not Miss About City Living”

  1. Whitney Says:

    I love the suburbs, and we don’t even have kids. But one point resonated with me more than the others…I’d have to fly five hours and over 2000 miles…for over $500…to eat at Chick-fil-A. And it is tempting. 🙂
    Good luck with your move!

  2. dejon05 Says:

    Interesting… I’ve never experienced true urban living, but it appears the opportunity will be available to me soon. Your timing is impeccable, and I’m glad to hear the other side of the story.

    I just moved out of the suburbs not long ago. And as I put that white picket fence in my rear view mirror for the last time, I experienced many of the same feelings you sound like you’ll have on the day you finally pull away. My feelings were summed up with a smug, “Good riddance.”

    Here’s what I hated about the suburbs.
    1) Snooty neighbors
    2) Snooty neighbors who roll their eyes when my lawn exceeds the unwritten, yet-heavily-enforced 10-day maximum interval between mows
    3) The neighbors teenage kids who regularly parked in front of my house and sat on the hood of their Honda Civics while smoking and acting cool. (One of them actually parked in my driveway once, and had the nerve to act like I was bothering him when I told him to move his car.)
    4) A complete lack of variety… Maybe its just Oklahoma, but sometimes I wonder if the housing codes stipulate only brown and beige on housing exteriors.
    5) 45-minute commutes to anywhere… And this is not exactly a metroplex!
    6) The palatable feeling of being average… 2.1 kids + median income = success. (Kill me)
    7) The 45-minute commute to a job I hated… Haven’t missed it for a second.
    8) Waving to a neighbor just to have them pull in to their driveway and bring down the garage door before my salutation can interrupt their chance to be snooty.
    9a) Mowing
    9b) Edging
    9c) Weedeating
    10) A complete lack of diversity. Everyone’s house, family, yard, car, identity looks exactly like the next person’s.

  3. dejon05 Says:

    I had no idea an 8 and a close-parenthesis becomes a yellow face with sunglasses. That’s unfortunate. 8)

  4. Whitney Says:

    Wow, DeJon, sorry for you. We had great neighbors in our San Diego suburb and a lawn service….people are even nicer here. The commute does SUCK. So much so for Joe we’re considering base housing, which is it’s own sick little suburb. And both lands of suburbia we’ve called home have been quite diverse, both in ethnicity and income-level. I don’t know if it is that we live in largely military areas both heavily influenced by other-than-American cultures.

    I would’ve taken a hammer to that kid’s car. 🙂

    And I did not know that 8-parenthesis = joe cool.

    So, what’s in the stars for you in terms of “city living”? Please tell!

  5. msmiranda Says:

    LOL. Thanks, Dejon, for reminding me that there are down sides to the suburbs too. I don’t know that there is an ideal place to live — if there is, it isn’t around here. I especially liked the thing about snooty neighbors. I hope this place is not like that. I guess I got a pretty good feeling about the street when I saw some of our neighbors-to-be with kids hanging out when we got out of the car, and they spoke to us in less than five minutes and were telling us about the neighborhood. I even decided to overlook the fact that one of the guys was wearing overalls and a camouflage hat and was clearly chewing tobacco. He works at the Pentagon and came from NC so I was like, well, what did we expect, some of our neighbors are surely Republicans and that will be something to get used to … again, since I am from MS after all.

    In terms of commuting, we chose the town we’re moving to (Manassas) because I will be able to take VA’s commuter rail into the city. No way was I doing a driving commute in this area. Train time is at least usable time, to read, work, make calls, etc.

    I hear you about the lack of diversity — the houses they build now are VERY cookie-cutter and utterly lacking in character. But, the up side for us is that we will have a bigger, nicer place in a quieter area for the same or less (depending on utility costs) as we have now. On a more encouraging note, the neighborhood and area seems very diverse racially — Casey’s day care looks like a commercial for Benetton. That’s something that is mostly not true in the city.

    I don’t know about the whole yard thing. I’ve never had one before, and because this is a townhouse community, it’s not a big yard. But I guarantee you I’ll never mow it myself. 🙂

  6. msmiranda Says:

    Chick-Fil-A is the greatest, isn’t it? My friend Melissa just moved to New York and said that she read that foodies are excited there is now one in Manhattan (in an NYU food court). There is one about a mile from the new digs …

  7. Whitney Says:

    They opened the first one in San Diego about 3 years ago. It was a mile from our house there and the line was almost a mile long the first several days. We waited about a week to go…and then went often. Too often. 🙂
    But breakfast is SO good and, relatively speaking, cheap. I am so jealous of you.

    Oh, and I highly recommend a lawn service if they’re reasonably priced. I had one every time Joe was gone and one is included in our rent here in Hawaii. It is a huge stress reliever that will allow David to spend his weekend time with you and Casey and not sweating it out in the yard.

    Good luck with those Republicans!

  8. urbino Says:

    in an NYU food court

    Heh. I bet I know the very one. When I was a student, I used to go down there every now and then to get a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza.

    No Chick-Fil-A back then, though. If I wanted fried chicken, there was a place about a block west, across 6th Ave., called “Dallas” something-or-other. It was a poor substitute for proper Southern fried chicken, and the cornbread was an abomination, but it got this Southern boy by.

    I’ve been in the ‘burbs for the past 2 years. Rural small town for 7 yrs. before that. I can’t say I’m loving the suburban experience, but it’s a definite upgrade over where I was before. I landed here basically because I didn’t have time to find an apt. where I wanted to be — Midtown, which is pretty much right where the name suggests. If Memphis has a Greenwich Village, Midtown is it. (I believe Fraulein Peacock is a resident.) I still hope to move cityward at some point, I just haven’t gotten up the gumption for another move just yet. (Plus, my current abode is barely 5 minutes from my office, which is undeniably nice.)

    My guess, Miranda, is that you’ll find the DC suburbs surprisingly pleasant. Certainly more livable than your MS experience. Maybe it’ll be the perfect fit for you — not too rural South (with all the attendant problems), and not too urban (ditto).

    DeJon — where are you headed? Do tell.

  9. urbino Says:

    When I was a student, I used to go down there every now and then to get a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza.

    BTW, for the ChurchaChristChurchers among us, I was once evangelized by a member of the Crossroads/Boston/International CofC in there.

  10. odgie Says:


    I currently live in the DC suburbs too. I grew up in northern VA and my on my how things have changed. Even though this is my home, my wife and I frequently talk about heading out for parts cheaper and less populated, but jobs and friends keep us here.

    I hate the McMansions and the seeming universal rudeness too. However, Manassas is a pretty nice town, and I hope you and your family enjoy it.

  11. dejon05 Says:

    I don’t have any definitive plans just yet. I keep telling those that ask that “I’m casting a wide net.”

    I’ll finish up at OU in May, and I have no idea where I’ll be in June. But before Ms. Miranda told me about the not-so-glamorous side of city living I was definitely leaning toward urban centers (e.g. Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans, D.C., et al.)

    I’ll be sure to let me my friends here know when things fall in to place. When that happens, I’ll be so relieved I’ll need an outlet anyway!

  12. urbino Says:

    I was definitely leaning toward urban centers (e.g. Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans, D.C., et al.)

    One of these things is not like the others. I’m looking at you, Dallas. My impression from many a business trip there is it’s one vast, sprawling suburb. I turned down an interesting job with a Big Corporation just because it was in Dallas.

    Chicago, though. That’s a proper city. Or NYC. Or, on a much smaller scale, Portland. Or even, say, Minneapolis/St. Paul. That’d be the biscuit.

    Keep us apprised.

  13. urbino Says:

    BTW, is that Kierkegaard in your icon or avatar or whatever the kids are calling it these days?

  14. dejon05 Says:

    I had a very good friend and mentor in the Air Force that lived in Manassas while doing hard time at the Pentagon. He loved it out there, and I visited his place. The neighborhood was quite inviting. I hope you really enjoy it.

    I ate at Chick-Fil-A about 6 times a week as an undergrad, and didn’t eat another Polynesian drenched nugget until I went back to grad school. It really is tasty. But I suffered from a case of too much of a good thing.

  15. dejon05 Says:

    Yeah, Dallas’ entrance in to the discussion is merely days old. It normally wouldn’t be my first choice, but through a unique set of circumstances I met a business owner there that made overtures. He caught me at a weak moment, and I’m easily wooed. Plus, I would certainly consider OU university with regional appeal, and Dallas is the largest market in the region. But like I said, not my first choice.

    I added that little fella’s head next to my new Internet moniker more out of sarcastic spite than anything else. Perhaps you’ll recognize his mug as it appeared later in life.

  16. dejon05 Says:

    BTW: Funny you mention Portland… That city, much like my status with Salma Hayek and Wrigley Field, is one that I longingly observe from a distance, with little hope of a long-term, face-to-face relationship.

  17. urbino Says:

    I feel ya. Not so much on Wrigley, though. They do make a fine gum, however. I tried to land in Portland with my most recent move, but couldn’t work out the logistics.

    Karl! Mein Gott!

    Polynesian drenched nugget


    BTW, Miranda, Cap’n will probably be jealous of your ready access to Civil War-iana.

  18. msmiranda Says:

    Yeah, I’m actually looking forward to checking out the park and battlefield site. Despite my politics, I’m sort of a Civil War buff — not actively, but I do break out my North and South DVDs once every couple of years. Swayze … 😉

    Polynesian — one of their sauces for the nuggets.

  19. msmiranda Says:

    Dejon, I don’t think city living is all bad. What I’m talking about specifically is living downtown. We’ve been in a rowhouse in a neighborhood that is very transitional and near an extremely busy street that people use to commute in from MD. There is definitely drug dealing going on on our street. And DC is thought to have the second worst traffic in America after L.A. (though I’m sure New York is in there somewhere too).

  20. alsturgeon Says:

    Oh, I have so much I want to say, but not yet. (How do I make that winky-face like when Miranda thinks about Swayze?)

    I do have two things to add:

    #1: I truly despise yardwork. Jody & I dream someday of a nice little condo where these things are taken care of… Given my lack of physical exercise, hiring a yard service right now is simply too embarrassing.

    #2: I think people act differently in different settings, but I think folks are basically the same deep down inside. They’re just products of their environment. One of my silly characteristics is that I like to mess with those preconceptions. I enjoy being different than the cookie-cutters just because…, being overly-friendly to those full of themselves, waving at the cool kids like they’re my best friends, etc. All in all, from my experience, people warm up to you over time, and that makes life bunches more bearable.

    Great post, Miranda. Best of luck and all that… Sounds like it will be a great move for your family!

  21. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    BTW, Miranda, Cap’n will probably be jealous of your ready access to Civil War-iana.

    Absolutely green with envy!
    You can’t drive five miles in Northern Virginia without coming across a historical marker by the side of the road for some battle or skirmish. As for Manassas, they liked having a battle there so much that they had another one the following year. Folks around there are probably still digging up Mine’ balls in their gardens today.

    I met my wife at Searcy, but she was born and raised in DC, so we go back every few years. We were married over the July 4th weekend during the Long Hot Summer of ‘68 at a church near her home in Hyattsville.
    I was in pilot training at Selma, Alabama – for those who know their Civil Rights history, we used the Edmond G Pettus bridge as a landmark to line up with the runway – and I hopped a military flight out of Montgomery into Andrews AFB on the 4th of July, caught a shuttle bus into town, and my wife-to-be picked me up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
    The streets downtown were all torn up due to the construction of the Metro, and, as we drove up North Capitol towards the Maryland suburbs, we went by several blocks of burned out buildings from the recent riots following the assassinations of MLK in April and RFK in June. A month later was the Democratic Convention in Chicago and the famous “Chicago Seven.” A year later, I would fly Marines and 82nd Airborne troops into Andrews AFB to secure the city during a planned anti Viet Nam War march.
    Interesting times to be young and passionate and bulletproof.

    DC’s a great place to visit – especially for history geeks – but I can understand why you are looking forward to life in the Virginia suburbs. Best of luck on the move.

    AKA “Grampy.”

  22. urbino Says:

    We were married over the July 4th weekend during the Long Hot Summer of ‘68

    And 6 weeks later, I was born. No connection, I’m sure.

    Sound like interesting times to be a young adult, indeed, Cap’n.

  23. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    Sound like interesting times to be a young adult, indeed, Cap’n.
    Yes it was, but it also illustrates the fact that most “History” doesn’t seem so momentous to the folks who are there at the time. To me, most of that stuff went on around me while I was much more interested in other things. It was just another “day at the office.” Now, almost 40 years down the road, there is probably a graduate student writing a thesis on some of those events. Kind of makes me wish I’d paid more attention.

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