When I was going to school in Vancouver I shared a series of dingy basement suites with other people, On had closet doors for walls, the other had ceilings that were so low, my friends had to stoop while inside; at 5’6” I was fine—barely. But I didn’t really care, because my I only real slept, kept my meagre belongings, and had the odd meal there.
The City as a Living Room
My real living space was the neighbourhood around me the local park was my backyard where I could stretch my legs, get some exercise, or just relax with a good book. The local café was my living room, where I would hang out with friends. There was a repertory theatre not too far away (for cheap) entertainment. The local pubs allowed me to keep up with my hockey fixation. When I was dead broke, I could always walk up and down the main drag, and be entertained by the sidewalk ballet that performed daily in front of me.
Sure you may say, but that was when you were young and single; it isn’t a practical life for families. I would say you are wrong. Sure there are practical reasons to raise kids in the suburbs (the quality of schools is a major consideration), but these can be overcome.
To this day, many of my friends have remained in the same neighborhood albeit moving ‘above ground’ to slightly larger, but still tiny by suburban standard apartments and subdivided houses. They now take the kids to the local parks and pools for entertainment and socialization. When they are school age, they are able to walk, with the other neighborhood children to and from the local school, and be baby-sat in the afternoons by the retired couple who live across the courtyard. Their kids learn to take public transit to get around, freeing themselves—and their parents—from being chauffeured in the family car.
Admittedly, this life is not for everyone. But, in an era where the we are questioning the viability of the McMansions and basing our live savings on a wood and stucco box, it is appealing to an increasing number of people. So instead of thinking about the number of square feet you will have to give up if you move from a suburban home, start thinking about the amenities that you will gain; not to mention the time you will recover. For many of you, you will find it a more than favourable trade-off.