There is an ancient feud as old as time itself. That between the 20-something who strolls into work each morning with a coffee from the cafe on top of which they live, and everybody else who has moved out to the suburbs to save money or buy a house. Everybody else has spent an hour and a half travelling only six kilometres into the city, donning that Jerry Seinfeld sneakers look with their work clothes, hustling with other commuters for a seat on the train like it’s the New York Stock Exchange, before literally falling into the office in an exhausted heap.
Yes, city living seems like the life, doesn’t it? Dumplings on call 24/7, a convenience store on every corner and the option for late night cocktails on a Wednesday, just because. But as always appearances can be deceiving. Who really wins between suburb vs city living?
“What’s a sky?”
The biggest drawback for those living too close in is the distinct presence of giant buildings towering over them every moment of the day. Living in the suburbs provides something not many consider: space. Not just space within the home but space within their surrounding environment.
There have been a number of studies related to the presence of green and blue spaces and mental health, especially one in 2011 at the University of Bonn that looked at the importance of bodies of water. However, the influence of blue skies above people’s heads on their mental well being has not been pursued that much in sociological studies. Knowing just how much we love to look out at a vista of a horizon with plenty of sky above us, it is not hard to believe that those who have buildings constantly towering above them may forget (or not have the chance) to enjoy what it feels like to sit under the stars or a wide blue sky.
Gotta love those capital gains
Ironically enough, those living a little further out tend to enjoy larger capital gains than those living within the city. Why? Because those buying a house in the suburbs tend to be doing exactly that: buying a house, not an apartment. Houses enjoy the luxury of sitting on a piece of land, and it is land that is the prized possession within the real estate market. Inner-city apartments sometimes can find themselves more susceptible to changes in supply and demand within the apartment market, which often results in slower capital growth. Of course, as investments, they can be easy and consistent sources of high rental yields (especially when investing in student accommodation).
Lock up and leave
There is something nice about watching characters in sitcoms leave their apartment. Jerry Seinfeld, Sheldon Cooper, Monica and Rachel; they all say something funny and then close that apartment door. That’s it, no checking if the windows are open nor if the security system is armed. ‘Lock up and leave’ is the anthem of those living in the city, and it’s an anthem many of us can only dream about as we plan our next holiday or even a night out. Remember that in the ‘burbs, your house (and your possessions) are on display, ready for the Sticky Bandits to make their way in while you’re away.
What’s on the other side of the wall? Oh right, nothing
Rest up, suburban sleepers, in the knowledge that there is no baby, fighting couple, band practice or Slipknot-themed restaurant on the other side of your bedroom wall. For those living in city apartments, there are few things more annoying than being woken up every 30 minutes because their bedroom is right next to the quaint 1920s (and incredibly loud) apartment building elevator.
A car, a cafe and your choice of parks
This may settle the battle between suburb vs city living. The cafes have infiltrated suburban corners, with some of the best coffee in your city often where the old milk bar used to be (spare a minute’s silence for the old milk bars). Add to that the luxury of a car, the choice of spending a sweltering summer’s day in the air conditioned luxury of a mall or the backyard pool, as well as your pick of parkland and suburban life quickly becomes the winner in this fight. While it is definitely possible to live in an apartment as a family (and even a fantastic lifestyle), most families in Australia would still prefer to have a little more space and breathing room once those toddlers start learning how to walk, talk and spill their breakfast everywhere.
Who is the winner?
There is no winner in suburb vs city living, obviously. If you want more for your buck, greater capital gains, room for the kids and space for your fleet of luxury cars, then the suburbs are for you. Further in, however, and you have access to restaurants, bars, entertainment, hospitals, and all that keeps you young!