Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Living in the Suburbs

motorcycles in carports
We've been spoiled it seems to have lived in the urban center of San Diego the past 2 1/2 years (minus the 6 months we were on Road Pickle). A week ago, Sash and I moved into our 3rd digs in the past 4 months, and our 4th home in San Diego overall, though not counting the two motels we spent 3 weeks in.

But this new place is located outside of the city center, further out into the suburban perimeter in the land of master-planned communities, where curvy, meandering Spanish-named parkways replace the grid pattern of Broadways and numbered streets. It's where you find tract homes, HOAs, and three-car garages. It's where dads burn firewood in their driveways and where moms host Princess House parties.

It's also the place where the nearest store and restaurant requires a two mile trek past homes and condominiums, requiring you to take a vehicle to get there. Sash and I were used to living in the city where you can walk to a store and crawl back home from the bar.

In the city, there's an energy of vibrance that fills the air, and somehow it just isn't here in the 'burbs.

But it's not to say that I don't like living here. On the contrary, I've spent many years in neighborhoods like this. It's just a different environment.

Everyone here is all about their personal lives, about decompressing and getting away from the madness of the city. By living several miles from their place of work, they've drawn a distinct boundary between their career and family. But in the city, people blend both business and personal together. There isn't a moment when they only work or only play, they do it all concurrently and they live life at a faster pace.

So when our minds were running full steam on a conference call in the comfy comfines of our downtown abode, it's like culture shock to be plucked into the air and dropped in between a Little League tryout and a lemonade stand. Suddenly, the sight of brace-faced kids in minivans and white button-down Mormons on bicycles, just doesn't make synapse with our neurons. It's as if the neighborhood is telling us to slow down and smell the caramel Frappuccino.

weekly work schedule
Earlier this afternoon, Sash put together a drawing board of our weekly work schedule, just to remind us that we still have work to do. Yeah, somehow, the slower pace of the suburbs has me forgetting about work in lieu of standing on our balcony to gaze at the lovely swimming pool and spa. In trying to acclimate ourselves to the land of tract homes and complexes, we find the slower, quieter pace to have a calming effect on our mood. We've made good use of the spa 3 times in the past 7 days, each with beer in hand, something we didn't do while living in the city.

And that's not so bad if your work ends on a specific time of day and can you drive several miles away from your office. But Sash and I work out of our home. And in the stuccoed environs of bedroom suburbia, the vibrant energy that used to power our fast-paced lifestyle is not there anymore.

So we're tasked with finding tools to help us get back on track. We're trying to define hours when we work and play.

Technically, we don't have to work in our home, we can always find a coffee shop nearby. But here in the suburbs, chatty teenagers make too much noise to concentrate.

But one can only afford the high-priced rent of the city for so long, unless you're willing to live in apartments of urine-stained sidewalks and iron-barred windows.  But because we're not, it's back to the propinquity of Home Depots, Applebees, and the gentle music of ice cream trucks.


  1. Suburbia, that's all I've ever known when growing up in Southern CA. Now, in Alaska, it's more rural than suburbia. But I've never lived in a city.

  2. Great now I have the song "Rockin' the Suburbs" in my head, lol. Somehow I think you could could rock those suburbs.

    I live in a town of 50,000 (plus 25,000 university students) way more than the village of 2,000 I grew up in in rural British Columbia. When I started work here 13 years ago my boss asked me if Corvallis was too small a town. He didn't understand why I laughed and said no. Some days when the phones are ringing and I drive through rush hour home I think it is too big.

    I sometimes think I could handle living in the big city, but I'd have to live in a condo or apartment where I could walk everywhere. I am not much for diving in the city.

    Maybe the slower pace will be good for you. Just harder to work from home when you want to relax and hit the spa.

  3. Steve:

    I have a long commute, not far in miles but far as counted in minutes. Urban traffic is slow and we do not have arterials here so we have to navigate surface roads with countless stop lights. Imagine an hour to go a mere 12 miles, and over an hour to get home. It gives me time to think and decompress . . .

    Even though we are in the City (Not downtown) we have to use a vehicle to get supplies. If I worked from home I would never get anything done, Drawing Board or not

    A weekend photographeror Riding the Wet Coast

  4. I grew up in the MPLS suburbs, lived in the suburbs but worked in a rural area. Now I live in northern WI and "town" is 5 miles away, and the closest small city is 30. I love it out here.

  5. I hear ya, brother. It's a different world, to be sure.

    Still, let me know when you're downtown and I'll get out and have a cold one with you.

  6. Having lived in vibrant cities and out in the country (I literally had a cow in my front yard on day), I've found that it's all in what you want to do. I have a 30 to 45 min commute to work but I use that time to let the stress of the day fade away. The wife and I spend time walking, talking, gardening. It suites the pace of life I have now...funny thing was is that just 5 years ago I was taking 30 to 45 min to get to work by taking 2 buses. I used that time to read, to nap. So enjoy the world and what you got. It will change soon enough.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)