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Old 03-04-2013, 09:10 PM
 
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I know this is purely anecdotal, but the majority of the families with school-age kids I know in the city actually are headed by parents who grew up in suburbs. I don't think there's any reason to assume, at least not based on purely historical data from a very different generation, that today's young people are going to rush out to the 'burbs once they have kids. Some will, of course, driven in part by cost. But there's nothing inherently more family-friendly about suburbs than cities for raising kids, and no reason to expect that someone will suddenly radically change their community preference just because they have children. I think there will be a socioeconomic divide, though, at least in some cities. It's cheaper to live in the suburbs, and not all families will be able to stay in the city even if they'd prefer to do so.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:24 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
But again, rates of "family formation" and childbearing are going down over time. There is a growing class of adults who do not have any children, and the assumption that they would move out of a city "for their kids" no longer holds when that happens.
I'm not so sure that's true. I think it's more like the marriage issue, where most people still get married, but at a later age. I think people are still having families, just later, and fewer kids. I'm not sure there's a large block of people who will never have kids.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Monmouth County, NJ & Staten Island, NY
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Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
...there's nothing inherently more family-friendly about suburbs than cities for raising kids, and no reason to expect that someone will suddenly radically change their community preference just because they have children.
I understand this to be more of your opinion, rather then fact and I believe that a good majority of American families agree with my opinion that the suburbs are a more family-friendly place to raise kids. I'm not trying to be the authority on what's best for families as some people on here can be (not you), as I'm a 24 year old single guy with no children, however based on the opinions of a LOT of people I've met, and the chosen lifestyle of the majority of Americans, I'd say that most people agree with my opinion as well. There may be (as you see in your anecdotal evidence) more families likely to stay in some of our cities as time goes on, and if more and more people do that because they feel it's how they want to raise their children, good for them. I find that the suburbs make life generally safer, easier, more convenient and better for raising children...in my opinion. I'm not going to start bringing statistics and facts into this, because I don't feel it is a topic which warrants it...it's an entirely opinionated decision, and one that Americans vote with their dollars and in choosing how and where they live, every day.

I should add that personally, I find it to be inherently better because:
-larger properties/backyards and front yards, bigger pools/patios, space for children to play
-plenty of big parks and wooded areas to explore (yes, by walking there)
-easier for parents to get their children around with a car, and all the stuff that they need to carry
-better schools generally speaking
-lower crime
-lower cost of living
-plenty of activities for families, generally more family-friendly atmosphere versus the Yuppie-sphere attitude in many cities

Again, these are my opinions and you could probably rebut each one with your own opinions, however I think like I said the majority of Americans agree with my view.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I'm not so sure that's true. I think it's more like the marriage issue, where most people still get married, but at a later age. I think people are still having families, just later, and fewer kids. I'm not sure there's a large block of people who will never have kids.
I definitely know people my own age who have gotten vasectomies and tubal ligation, but I do believe you are correct that in many cases raising children is delayed. Still, if someone stays childless until 35, and then sticks around until their child is of school age, you're talking about someone hitting 40 before they'd consider moving to the suburbs for better schooling options. That's a quite hefty chunk of your adult life.

The trend toward smaller families can also make the difference in urban living. Many urban parents do not consider public school options, but enroll their children in private schools. For the average middle-class family, sending one child to private school isn't a big deal (it's often less expensive than day care, which most families with two working parents pay for now). However, if you're talking about two, or even more, children, a free schooling option which parents find acceptable becomes more important.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by memph View Post
I wouldn't expect an equal square footage to cost the same, but I would expect the price to be similar. Walkable areas are inherently going to have higher land values... although I guess it depends how you're comparing. Maybe a 1500 sf rowhouse on 1/20 of an acre shouldn't cost more than a 1500 sf bungalow on 1/5 of an acre. However, a 1500 sf rowhouse on 1/20 acre in the suburbs should definitely cost less than in the city.
I was speaking about living space, not lot size. Pretty much everyone wants as much living space as is feasible within their budget, but lot sizes are more determined by zoning than anything. Some people place premiums on having larger lots, but generally speaking, particularly in suburban areas, people often end up with more yard than they want because they have no choice but to buy the yard which came along with the house.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,419 posts, read 11,926,143 times
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Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
I should add that personally, I find it to be inherently better because:
-larger properties/backyards and front yards, bigger pools/patios, space for children to play
-plenty of big parks and wooded areas to explore (yes, by walking there)
-easier for parents to get their children around with a car, and all the stuff that they need to carry
-better schools generally speaking
-lower crime
-lower cost of living
-plenty of activities for families, generally more family-friendly atmosphere versus the Yuppie-sphere attitude in many cities

Again, these are my opinions and you could probably rebut each one with your own opinions, however I think like I said the majority of Americans agree with my view.
I won't rebut you point by point, but I will note the following.

1. The first push to the suburbs (streetcar suburbs in the early 20th century) was due to a desire to get away from pollution. As factories have closed just about everywhere, and road-related pollution is often just as bad in suburban areas, cities and suburbs have relatively similar air quality today.

2. The crime differential between cities and suburbs still exists, but it's much, much less than it was in the 1970s. Urban riots just don't happen anymore, for example. Racial relations are much, much better today in urban areas than they were during that period as well.

Considering the remaining suburban advantages, they boil down to basically two things. One is that suburbs have historically catered to middle classes, and thus they tend to still have lower crime, better schools, etc. But this is a function of the people who live there, not the built environment. The second, as you note, is basically subjective. It's cultural, varies from nation to nation, and could easily shift over time, even if the current movement ends up being overblown.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:39 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I won't rebut you point by point, but I will note the following.

1. The first push to the suburbs (streetcar suburbs in the early 20th century) was due to a desire to get away from pollution. As factories have closed just about everywhere, and road-related pollution is often just as bad in suburban areas, cities and suburbs have relatively similar air quality today.

2. The crime differential between cities and suburbs still exists, but it's much, much less than it was in the 1970s. Urban riots just don't happen anymore, for example. Racial relations are much, much better today in urban areas than they were during that period as well.

Considering the remaining suburban advantages, they boil down to basically two things. One is that suburbs have historically catered to middle classes, and thus they tend to still have lower crime, better schools, etc. But this is a function of the people who live there, not the built environment. The second, as you note, is basically subjective. It's cultural, varies from nation to nation, and could easily shift over time, even if the current movement ends up being overblown.
1. It wasn't as simple as that. People also wanted more space, especially land. Even before there was much zoning, cities were built more densely than suburbs.

2. Well, maybe. I don't know exactly what period you're talking about. Remember the Boston school deseg riots in the 1970s? (Actually, maybe you're too young.)

Nevertheless, crime and schools are what they are.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Monmouth County, NJ & Staten Island, NY
407 posts, read 407,601 times
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I won't rebut you point by point, but I will note the following.

1. The first push to the suburbs (streetcar suburbs in the early 20th century) was due to a desire to get away from pollution. As factories have closed just about everywhere, and road-related pollution is often just as bad in suburban areas, cities and suburbs have relatively similar air quality today.

2. The crime differential between cities and suburbs still exists, but it's much, much less than it was in the 1970s. Urban riots just don't happen anymore, for example. Racial relations are much, much better today in urban areas than they were during that period as well.

Considering the remaining suburban advantages, they boil down to basically two things. One is that suburbs have historically catered to middle classes, and thus they tend to still have lower crime, better schools, etc. But this is a function of the people who live there, not the built environment. The second, as you note, is basically subjective. It's cultural, varies from nation to nation, and could easily shift over time, even if the current movement ends up being overblown.
I can definitely understand points 1 and 2, I live in a more suburban part of New York City, and grew up going through the city school system which I didn't find to be bad whatsoever. My girlfriend's suburban New Jersey town has excellent schools, however the neighboring town's schools are horrible, so it's all based on location....and we pay less in property tax too. That being said, it's still all subjective and there's a lot of things about the more suburban NJ lifestyle that I prefer over being in New York.

Schools in my part of the city are generally good in my opinion because of the higher income and more well-to-do people that live in this part of the city versus other parts. The same goes for crime, while it does happen (woman just shot her allegedly abusive boyfriend dead a few blocks away from my house the other day Staten Island woman accused of killing boyfriend says she was abused | SILive.com ) to some extent, it's not even close to the kind of things that happened in say northern Brooklyn in the 1980s, or even some of the bad parts of the city today. Neighborhoods change, there are good and bad places to live within the city in terms of both crime and schools, however I find that since more families tend to want the privacy and personal space of being outside of urban areas, they voted with their dollars and moved there, which is why we have such a large middle class property tax investment in suburban America (and what follows is better schools and less crime). If there was enough middle class, well-to-do population in city neighborhoods, such as mine, you'd see the same effect. If the trend of people starting families in truly urban city neighborhoods continues, and new families keep voting with their dollars, we'll see a shift as well. In my opinion, this doesn't take away from my feeling that suburbia inherently is better situated for a family, as you generally have more space to live, easier to get around with children and just a more fun environment.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:19 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,419 posts, read 11,926,143 times
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
1. It wasn't as simple as that. People also wanted more space, especially land. Even before there was much zoning, cities were built more densely than suburbs.
People wanted more space because the wealthy had more space, and they aspired to be wealthy. Traditionally the wealthy (going back to Britain) would have the country estate and the "townhouse" and split their time between the two. The townhouse was basically a jumped-up rowhouse, much larger and more ornate, but otherwise identical in structure. The country estate was of course its own thing, situated far back from any road, with an extensive lawn (originally grazed by sheep kept on site for the purpose). The U.S. imported the same essential breakdown between the city house and country manor, with city housing largely abandoned by the wealthy in many areas once rail transportation became good enough to not need an urban residence. Things like big setbacks, large front lawns with grass, and ample space surrounding the house thus became associated with being rich, and many people wanted these trappings of wealth once technology made it cheaper and more convenient.

Still, it should be noted the cultural norm across virtually all human settlements is dense living. I'm not just talking about cities, but the structure of villages in traditional farming and even hunter-gatherer societies. People might live in smaller communities, with huge swathes of wild land surrounding them, but having your immediate neighbors a dozen feet (or less) away is how virtually everyone has traditionally lived. Thus there's nothing inherently stressful about dense living - it just came to be disliked in the U.S. for very unique, status based reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
2. Well, maybe. I don't know exactly what period you're talking about. Remember the Boston school deseg riots in the 1970s? (Actually, maybe you're too young.)
I'm too young - I was born in 1979. I have read about the period, however, and I can understand why cities were considered to be unpleasant places to live in the 1960s and 1970s. The early postwar suburban movement, from 1945 through the 50s, was a positive movement to the suburbs - people wanted suburban living. But the 60s and 70s were more characterized by cities themselves becoming unattractive places to live, largely due to racial strife and crime. I don't think a single major U.S. city outside of the sun belt (where they were annexing suburbs and developing new land in city limits) grew during this period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Nevertheless, crime and schools are what they are.
They are, but even here, the advantages aren't as clear cut as they used to be. Many suburbs now have former "urban" problems with crime and bad schools, due to the displacement of the urban poor into first-ring suburbs. In contrast, some cities have very good public schooling options - Boston basically has city-wide magnets based upon merit, meaning if you're middle class and you happen to have above-average kids who test into the smart schools, you have no reason to ever consider the suburbs for schooling. I fully expect that the split will narrow even further in coming decades, to the point we'll stop talking about cities and suburbs regarding crime and education, and instead talk about good versus bad suburbs and city neighborhoods.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:29 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,003 posts, read 102,592,596 times
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post

They are, but even here, the advantages aren't as clear cut as they used to be. Many suburbs now have former "urban" problems with crime and bad schools, due to the displacement of the urban poor into first-ring suburbs. In contrast, some cities have very good public schooling options - Boston basically has city-wide magnets based upon merit, meaning if you're middle class and you happen to have above-average kids who test into the smart schools, you have no reason to ever consider the suburbs for schooling. I fully expect that the split will narrow even further in coming decades, to the point we'll stop talking about cities and suburbs regarding crime and education, and instead talk about good versus bad suburbs and city neighborhoods.
I have huge issues with these charter and magnet schools. I believe we have discussed this on the Pittsburgh forum. These schools are lottery admit, sometimes accompanied by some sort of entrance requirements. I think the city schools should work on improving ALL the schools, not just making these private academies at public school prices, e.g. free. The positive side of these schools is that they do keep the kids in the public school system, and keeps their parents involved with the public schools.
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