When I lived in New York, I despised and often questioned why I was paying exorbitant rent to live in the city.
Now, a few years separated from the metropolis and experiencing the sterile suburban life, I’ve come to appreciate several reasons why:
1) Walkability - Being able to walk everywhere is an incredibly relieving, fun and spiritual experience. More importantly, being in your feet and upright is one of the most fundamental forms of exercise and promoters of good health: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/you-like-walking-in-the-city-so-do-plenty-of-others/
2) Fluidity - By this I mean the constant upheaval of restaurants, bars, stores, food trucks, etcs. While your neighborhood Target and Safeway have been around for decades, the constant shifting and flux of trends in the city provide constant revival and edginess to the city
3) Diversity - It is extremely challenging to live an engaging, diverse life in suburbia. House prices, highway traffic, school zoning often price out and segregate neighborhoods into racial and class lines. While large cities might have an even larger gap between the rich and the poor, at least the geographic vicinity and availability of public transportation provide an equal opportunity for people to live and work in the same area regardless of class and reap the benefits of the city life. Factor in things like public parks, free concerts and the like, I do believe the city serves a more utilitarian purpose than the rural, and suburban environment
4) In-Betweeness - Working in the suburbs involves waking up, driving to work, driving to the gym, and driving home. There is no pub to swing by after work, or coffee shop, or fountain, just highways and roads. This can be incredibly isolating, not to mention wasteful - read NY Times article about Suburban Office: “To Rethink Sprawl, Start with Offices”
5) Late Night - Things actually do close at 9pm. The main reason I get a lot of shit for living as home is “doesn’t everything close at 9pm?!?” In fact, this is true. Sitting at home on a dark, wintry night after work is an awful feeling, as I tend to just start shutting down from evening until bedtime with nothing out there
6) Energy/Spontaneity: The process of getting into a car, driving, parking, and going to a grocery store takings planning and just like inertia, it’s much easier to get chores and tasks done when you are already out and about and moving. Also, it’s extremely hard to get together on a last minutes notice, as schedules are just more rigid and less daring when driving is involved.
As for me, I’m really exciting to moving to DC finally, and looking forward to better control the temptations and distractions of urban life, to live a service, community-oriented lifestyle and better deal with the city this go-around