25 January 2006

The Burb Commute

This week over at Sticks of Fire there's been a discussion about commuting from New Tampa.

The discussion got off on a bunch of tangents, like any good discussion, but I was thinking about the whole topic earlier today anyway.
This chunk of a comment by Brett caught my interest.
If I could find something that would get me from New Tampa to my office (located near Feather Sound) in less than three hours and four bus changes, I’d probably jump all over it, as I’m about ready to shove my commute up the arse of the next jerk to cut me off in traffic. As it is, I’m seriously considering selling my house and getting an apartment in the city again. At least I might regain some semblance of my sanity.

You know, I honestly wonder why people who feel this way DON'T take that action. Not that anyone should do this lightly, but seriously, you CAN'T have everything. So you have to pick and choose. I think the entire concept of the suburbs was an attempt to have everything. At first it seemed great, because the vast majority of people, all they really want is a nice safe, secure home in a quiet neighborhood where they can pick and choose which neighbors they talk to and where the kids go to school with other kids who come from families just like theirs.
I think a lot of people still think that's what the suburbs offer. The fact that you have to drive for an hour each way to get to work, can't walk to the store to get groceries because the store is a mile away down a six-lane highway, and doing anything--including taking the kids to school--requires a half-hour driving investment and, these days, twenty bucks' worth of gas, just took a while for everybody to figure out.

So, you can't have it all. You want the big house and yard and the quiet street? Take the hour commute and all the money spent on gas and time away from the kids.

Me, I want my time. I live in downtown. I only have 980 square feet, so it's a small place (for which I paid $106 a foot, if you're interested; but then, I also don't think the seller had any idea what the place was worth--and her realtor was real shady). I don't have a yard. It's not quiet (not at 2330 when the cops are chasing somebody off I-275 and down Ashley, or when a train blows through downtown at
0130 and lays on the horn at every crossing (ahem, Tuesday morning).
But it is close to work. My daily commute takes maybe as much as 35 minutes total. I have this incredible view of downtown all day every day. I can walk to the grocery store that's a block down and around the corner (yes, it's a Chinese grocery, but it has milk and bread), and pretty much every store I ever need to shop at is within a five-minute drive.

Frankly, the things the suburbanites complain about, I don't have to worry about. I try to not to complain too much about the things I gave up--the hardest one is the fact that it's never quiet--but I don't sense the same coming from suburbanites. Unfortunately, I think they'd complain just as much that living in the city isn't "safe" enough.

Some folks just aren't happy and don't want to be. You can get rid of your long commute, but you can't just pick up your whole neighborhood and move the whole thing into downtown and cut your commute. Since you can't do that, you might as well decide whether the short commute or the suburban neighborhood is what you really want.

Another good quote came from Tim.
I don’t think traffic is that bad. Yes, it’s a pain, but traffic is a pain in *any* big city. It takes about 40 minutes for me to get home from USF at 5pm. That’s not that bad.

Holy crap. 40 minutes to get home? Not that bad? I'd rather shove a hot fireplace poker into my eye, but that's me. Tim, at least, seems to have accepted his commute. I think if you choose to live in the burbs, you should accept your commute, too, or else join the revolution and move into town. It's really not as scary as you think.


Anonymous said...

Life is about choices and consequences even my 6 year old knows that. I think many adults fall in to this category as you say "Some folks just aren't happy and don't want to be". They need to grow up!
That's my very black and white 2 cents!
P.S. I love the "burbs" and the view on my drive to work through downtown!

Lucky Bob said...

And that is one of the biggest reasons I love living in a town like Clemson. I have a 5 minute commute to work, and that includes circling the parking lot looking for a space. I can see the grocery store from the house, and I'm less that 30 minutes from theaters and malls. But I'm tired of renting and house prices in Clemson are way too high for a town of around 10k people. So I have to make the choice of a small house or move farther away from work.

scanime said...

I like going from Greenville to Clemson. It's still about 45 minutes to and from work, but I have the reverse commute. Everybody is leaving the suburbs to go to Greenville, and I get to do the opposite. The only part I don't care for is the traffic in Easley. That, and filling up my tank more often.

AMS said...

You've left out one option--work near your suburban neighborhood and eliminate the downtown portion of the equation entirely.

Smitty said...

I tend to wonder why more people don't do what AMS said, and then I think back to where I grew up. If you wanted to work in Clay County and live in Clay County, then you had to be a teacher, a bus driver, a garbage man, a postal carrier, an insurance agent, a lawyer, a doctor, or a retail clerk.
Kind of limited options.

Actually, now that I look at it, that list is pretty much all that remains of the American economy anyway. Maybe we can all live in the suburbs.