U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 02-20-2013, 11:26 AM
 
1,207 posts, read 884,425 times
Reputation: 1107

Advertisements

(this info was previously posted but got buried in another thread so I wanted to make a new thread specific to this subject)

We currently live in a semi-urban area on the fringe of Boston. We have two small children, and many of our friends have move to the suburbs in the last few years. We have stuck it out, and when we go visit our friends in the suburbs we always come back home, glad we live where we do, but also realizing its not for everyone. For so many, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that suburbia is best for kids, so here is a challenge to that:


1. Its quieter here. Sounds crazy, right? One catch - as long as you live on a side street. Almost everyone uses a quiet reel lawn mower and week-whacking takes all of 4 minutes per week. Contrast this with the relatively open plains of suburbia where the noises of construction and gas powered lawn mowers travel far and wide especially on Saturday afternoons. In dense areas the homes also create significant noise insulation.

2. Independence for young teens. The 13-17 year olds in our neighborhood have an amazing level of freedom. They can walk to Harvard Square, or several other squares with their friends. They can walk to the train and go into Boston. Because of the high density of children, they can walk to the homes of most of their school friends.

3. Exposure to the world for toddlers. The 1-4 year olds tend to get out more and see more without having to be strapped into a car every single time they leave the house. When you can throw them into a stroller and walk a few blocks to everything you need, they get exposed to the world much more. As a quick example, this Saturday we walked to the local Winter Market, then to the local butcher shop. Sunday we walked to lunch and then to the natural history museum.

4. Safety. Think I am crazy again? What's the #1 killer of teens? Car accidents. Teens that can walk are much less likely to be driving a car when they turn 17-18.

5. Social interaction. We can walk to 5 playgrounds from our house. Every one of them is full of families with kids every afternoon. Families often make an afternoon of it and bring lunch. Suburban playgrounds often tend to be empty, as the kids tend to play independently on the swingset in the back yard. There is a year round farmers market we can walk to, and in warmer months there is a fun kid-friendly street festival almost every weekend.

6. Diversity. I love the mix of people here. The other parents in our preschool have mostly non-corporate jobs. They are architects, non-profit managers and founders, artists, jewelry makers, and faculty at local universities. They tend to be people who pursued their interests in life as opposed to chasing money on the corporate ladder. Contrast this with the suburbs where it seems almost everyone has a corporate management job.

Benefits of suburban vs semi-urban:

1. More room to roam - yards, and sometimes even woods to explore. I find that this is especially beneficial to boys from the ages of 5-11. After age 12 the wears off and the isolation and car dependence of the quiet cul-de-sac kicks in. My experience with girls is that they tend to be fine with smaller yards at any age. Outdoor space is critical, but mose suburban yards are much bigger than they need to be for kids.

2. Perception of Schools - High scoring schools makes parents feel better. However if you believe the overhwelming data showing that student scores are driven almost exclusively by SES and parental imvolvement, regardless of the school, this holds less water.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 02-20-2013, 11:39 AM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,408,176 times
Reputation: 6702
I think a LOT of parents would love to live where you live. I bet it's not cheap, though. That's a factor, too -- you want to live somewhere like Cambridge, it comes at a price. But yes, I'd take that over a quiet, boring neighborhood any day, and think it would be a great fit for our family.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 12:31 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,987 posts, read 102,540,351 times
Reputation: 33045
Yes, I remember this thread from last time. I'm glad you've found a place you like. My comments in blue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by semiurbanite View Post
(this info was previously posted but got buried in another thread so I wanted to make a new thread specific to this subject)

We currently live in a semi-urban area on the fringe of Boston. We have two small children, and many of our friends have move to the suburbs in the last few years. We have stuck it out, and when we go visit our friends in the suburbs we always come back home, glad we live where we do, but also realizing its not for everyone. For so many, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that suburbia is best for kids, so here is a challenge to that:


1. Its quieter here. Sounds crazy, right? One catch - as long as you live on a side street. Almost everyone uses a quiet reel lawn mower and week-whacking takes all of 4 minutes per week. Contrast this with the relatively open plains of suburbia where the noises of construction and gas powered lawn mowers travel far and wide especially on Saturday afternoons. In dense areas the homes also create significant noise insulation.

I don't know how much time you've spent in suburbia on a Saturday afternoon. The idea that everyone is out mowing their lawn at the same time, or conversely, in staggered times all day long, is erroneous. If you live in a developed neighborhood, there is no construction noise nearby, either.

2. Independence for young teens. The 13-17 year olds in our neighborhood have an amazing level of freedom. They can walk to Harvard Square, or several other squares with their friends. They can walk to the train and go into Boston. Because of the high density of children, they can walk to the homes of most of their school friends.

Having raised two kids to adulthood, I'd be hesitant about letting a 13-14 year old go into a large city w/o an adult. You can get to the city on public transportation from most suburbs. By 15-16, they may be old enough to do that. I don't remember that mine ever did. Believe it or not, there is plenty for teens to do independently in most suburbs w/o going into the city. You're lucky if there's such a high density of kids that they can walk to their friends' homes. My kids could do that too. There are usually lots of kids in the suburbs.

3. Exposure to the world for toddlers. The 1-4 year olds tend to get out more and see more without having to be strapped into a car every single time they leave the house. When you can throw them into a stroller and walk a few blocks to everything you need, they get exposed to the world much more. As a quick example, this Saturday we walked to the local Winter Market, then to the local butcher shop. Sunday we walked to lunch and then to the natural history museum.

Toddlers need stimulation, yes, but they can get it in many ways. Since you have to take them with you whenever you go out, or hire a baby sitter, which most of us can't afford to do every time we need to run an errand, they get plenty of exposure to grocery stores and the like. You can make an excursion into "the city" and take them to the natural history museum, the zoo, etc.

4. Safety. Think I am crazy again? What's the #1 killer of teens? Car accidents. Teens that can walk are much less likely to be driving a car when they turn 17-18.

I doubt it. Post a link.

5. Social interaction. We can walk to 5 playgrounds from our house. Every one of them is full of families with kids every afternoon. Families often make an afternoon of it and bring lunch. Suburban playgrounds often tend to be empty, as the kids tend to play independently on the swingset in the back yard. There is a year round farmers market we can walk to, and in warmer months there is a fun kid-friendly street festival almost every weekend.

Again, how much time have you spent in a suburb on a warm afternoon? Our local parks tend to be quite busy most of the time. It helps that in your neighborhood there are all these people who don't seem to have traditional "day" jobs. In neighborhoods where most parents work, city or suburb, kids aren't in the parks so much during the day. It's also nice to be able to send your kids out to play in the backyard when you're busy. Often, the neighbor kids would join my kids in our yard, or mine would go to theirs.

6. Diversity. I love the mix of people here. The other parents in our preschool have mostly non-corporate jobs. They are architects, non-profit managers and founders, artists, jewelry makers, and faculty at local universities. They tend to be people who pursued their interests in life as opposed to chasing money on the corporate ladder. Contrast this with the suburbs where it seems almost everyone has a corporate management job.

Maybe in Boston. Not everywhere. Probably not in Boston, either.
Benefits of suburban vs semi-urban:

1. More room to roam - yards, and sometimes even woods to explore. I find that this is especially beneficial to boys from the ages of 5-11. After age 12 the wears off and the isolation and car dependence of the quiet cul-de-sac kicks in. My experience with girls is that they tend to be fine with smaller yards at any age. Outdoor space is critical, but mose suburban yards are much bigger than they need to be for kids.

2. Perception of Schools - High scoring schools makes parents feel better. However if you believe the overhwelming data showing that student scores are driven almost exclusively by SES and parental imvolvement, regardless of the school, this holds less water.

I'll comment on these two together. It's called damning with faint praise. We all know how to do that.
************************
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:04 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,983 posts, read 41,929,314 times
Reputation: 14804
Quote:
Quote:
4. Safety. Think I am crazy again? What's the #1 killer of teens? Car accidents. Teens that can walk are much less likely to be driving a car when they turn 17-18.
I doubt it. Post a link.
Unsure of which one you doubt, but for the first, here's a link:

CDC - Teen Drivers Fact Sheet - Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.

Quote:
I don't know how much time you've spent in suburbia on a Saturday afternoon. The idea that everyone is out mowing their lawn at the same time, or conversely, in staggered times all day long, is erroneous.
I've spent plenty. Exaggeration perhaps, but at least in my parent's neighborhoods, it definitely sounds like it many weekends.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:10 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,713,490 times
Reputation: 2538
You can doubt it all you want - but OP is dead on balls accurate (yes that is a scientific term) - auto accidents are number one killer of teens - there isn't even a close second.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:12 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,987 posts, read 102,540,351 times
Reputation: 33045
I know the facts about accidents. I'm questioning if these kids who live in an "inner-ring suburb" like the OPs are "much less likely" to be driving at 17-18. Then there's a question of just what "much less" is! Ha, ha, me and my definitions! Heck, I grew up in a "bus suburb" that was also very walkable, and most of us couldn't wait till we could drive. But that was then. . .

My neighborhood is usually very quiet. There's not *too* much lawn-mowing happening on Saturday/Sunday.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:14 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,713,490 times
Reputation: 2538
Yes, kids grow up much more independent and capable, far less bored, far less likely to get into the kind of trouble you get into when you're a bored kid, far more cultured, far more aware, and far more interested and ultimately far more interesting. And as for safety, there is no more dangerous place in American for a teen than an auto dependent suburb - very deadly. Parents don't do their kids any favors by raising them in the suburbs for safety reasons - absolutely the worst possible place.

Last edited by Komeht; 02-20-2013 at 01:45 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:15 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,983 posts, read 41,929,314 times
Reputation: 14804
Quote:
Having raised two kids to adulthood, I'd be hesitant about letting a 13-14 year old go into a large city w/o an adult. You can get to the city on public transportation from most suburbs. By 15-16, they may be old enough to do that.
From many suburbs, you may not be able to walk to public transportation to the city. And either way, often much more cumbersome. That's certainly true of the outer suburbs of Boston, where few would be in walking distance from a train station. Ditto for me.

I think it was 14 for me when I was allowed into the city without an adult (though not by myself).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:16 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,987 posts, read 102,540,351 times
Reputation: 33045
@ Kohmet: Yeah, my kids both ended up living under a bridge, after they got out of jail! (Heavy sarcasm)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-20-2013, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,103,705 times
Reputation: 3979
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I know the facts about accidents. I'm questioning if these kids who live in an "inner-ring suburb" like the OPs are "much less likely" to be driving at 17-18. Heck, I grew up in a "bus suburb" that was also very walkable, and most of us couldn't wait till we could drive. But that was then. . .

My neighborhood is usually very quiet. There's not *too* much lawn-mowing happening on Saturday/Sunday.
In my experience they do / are. Of course an inner ring suburb in Boston is much different (i.e. better transit access) than an inner-ring suburb in most every other US city.

Most of the kids in Brighton (part of the city but for all intents and purposes about the same urban setting as Cambridge) that I lived around did not drive cars. They took the T, in fact the most annoying riders were consistently the teenagers. I live in a more inner-city neighborhood now but there are plenty of kids here too, perhaps because of the proximity to the high school (which they walk to).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top