Suburbs be damned! Thank God we live in San Francisco

From a reader “DL” regarding The Next Slum? (The Atlantic.com):

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

Most Americans now live in single-family suburban houses that are segregated from work, shopping, and entertainment; but it is urban life, almost exclusively, that is culturally associated with excitement, freedom, and diverse daily life. And as in the 1940s, the real-estate market has begun to react.

Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium.

If gasoline and heating costs continue to rise, conventional suburban living may not be much of a bargain in the future. And as more Americans, particularly affluent Americans, move into urban communities, families may find that some of the suburbs’ other big advantages—better schools and safer communities—have eroded.

Well then, let’s all thank whichever God you believe in that we live in a great city like San Francisco.

-The Next Slum? [The Atlantic.com]

12 thoughts on “Suburbs be damned! Thank God we live in San Francisco”

  1. You’d think with the wide-spread use of the internet and possibilities for telecommuting, that people would actually spread out even more instead of cluster up even more.

  2. I have a wife, two kids, and a dog and we’re sticking it out in the city. If you do your homework you can find good public schools, and everytime we visit family in the ‘burbs we’re bored to tears. Life in or around a major metro area is what it’s all about. SF, Marin, and all the points around this area that are desirable will never (barring major earthquake) be a bad gamble.

    So nice to find a site that sees through all the garbage reporting. Keep it up and long live the city!

  3. The shift to urban living will lead to the decline of McMansions. I wonder if furniture sales will decline because of that. When u live in a big place you want to fill it all up so as to not feel the emptiness of it all. But when you live in a smaller place, you don’t need to buy as much furniture.

  4. Urbanite – couldn’t agree more.

    [Editor's note: Sorry sanfrantim, your comment was held in spam purgatory for who knows what reason.]

  5. This is how Europe is. The centers of contintental cities are pretty safe. It’s moreso out in the suburbs where you find crime and bleakness.

  6. the bigger the house, the worse the marriage, or so the saying goes. think about it. if you had a mcmansion, you’d never have to see or speak to your spouse.

    ;)

  7. james, on the same thought, I’d like to know about housecleaning in a 4+BA house. Do they really clean the 4 toilet bowls everyday? Are some bathrooms locked so not to have to clean them?

    (and the bill for cleaning the 2000 miles of gutters.. the spiderwebs on the 25ft high window in the foyer etc)

    living in the city is good. you can walk to buy milk, you can walk to the nearest ER, you can “walk” /public transportation to work – all of it keeping you fit and slim waiste – so you actually dont need a mcmansion with oversized doorways (altho I dreamed that people living in mcmansions would be fit – the mile long walk from the office to the fridge ofsetting the calories of the snack ;-) )

    while on the subject, what is your own occupancy sqft ratio? 200sqft per occupant (that’s “normal” in paris), 500sqft per occupant? 2000 sqft per occupant? (pets dont count)

  8. “Sure, and video conferencing will kill the airline industry”

    Of course not. But it is making a big dent. Video conferencing is certainly substituting for a lot of meetings. Have you ever tried Cisco’s latest telepresence technology ? Its pretty amazing how real it feels.

    On the other hand, globalization is increasing airline travel.

    “….this area that are desirable will never (barring major earthquake) be a bad gamble”

    Ummm… considering that a major earthquake is a near certainty over the duration of a standard 30 year mortgage, homeowners should expect and plan for the big one. It will definitely happen. We just don’t know exactly when or where.

  9. I think the ket quote here is: “For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs…”

    If this trend reverses itself for a similar amount of time, this is all that really matters to most who read this blog. By the time the trends does a 180 again, we will all be dead or close to it.

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