Suburban Worries

I admit it.  I used to judge people that lived in the suburbs.  Who wouldn’t?  I was a twenty something living in Chicago.  I had no kids, no car and no utilities coupled with cheap rent and a resilient liver.  My biggest worry was catching the next train or if my music was too loud.  I could walk out the front door of my apartment building to endless opportunities for entertainment, food and friends.  When I thought about the suburbs, I would shiver as the theme song from Weeds would start coursing through my veins.  It was all very vanilla.  And that was not the flavor I was seeking as a twenty something.  And yet, despite all of my judgment, I moved to the suburbs.  

 When I compare the city to the suburbs, there are pros and cons to both.  But what gets me the most (and makes me laugh) are the things I find myself worrying about.  They are the very things I used to judge – the vanilla life of worrying about the neighbor’s trash cans being strewn about their driveway.   I look forward to Tom getting home at night so that I can ask him in disbelief, as I do every Tuesday, “Did you see their cans?  They are everywhere and there are so many!” 

 It’s a different life I lead – one that brings a lot of joy and ridiculous worries.

I am obsessed with my neighbors.  I’m convinced they are all vampires and only come out at night.  On the rare occasion I do see one, I’m not sure what to do so I do what most normal people do – I give a single wave and smile.  Except mine is with way too much enthusiasm and reeks of desperation.  I want to meet neighbors.  It would be great to have friends in the neighborhood but I worry that’s never going to happen.  The other day I was coming home from work and saw my neighbor Ed in his driveway.  He’s the only neighbor’s name I know and that’s only because Tom told me.  My wave lasted too long; and my smile turned into an “Oh shit” because I was so busy looking in his direction that I missed the driveway!  I was mortified. 

I asked Tom that night, “Do you think he noticed? I felt I came off as desperate.”

Who knew I would ever pay so much attention to trash?  We have one neighbor whose trash always ends up in our yard.  It comes in all sorts of variations – shredded paper, dirty diapers, pizza boxes, deflated balls.  You name it, it’s in our yard.  I know this may seem extreme but I worry Sam will eat it and die.  A dog eating an old, rotten diaper cannot have a good outcome. 

 In addition to them sharing their trash, their cans are always strewn about on trash day.  This is not something that worries me.  It just gets on my nerves.

 Getting Fat
Believe it or not, I eat a lot more fast food now that I own a car.  I also walk a lot less now that I own a car.  I also turned thirty.  I worry I’m going to get fat and succumb to mom jeans.  

I’ve joined a gym. 

Housing Market
I have never owned a house.  I still don’t but Tom does.  And if we’re ever going to make it back to the city, we need the housing market to turn.  It’s a worry I’ve never had until now.  It makes me feel so grown up.  It also gives me anxiety. 

 Gas Prices
I used to tease my former carpool buddy (he had the car, I didn’t) for knowing the changes in the gas prices.  My response was always, “Who cares?  It’s just $4.50 a gallon.” 

Well as it turns out, I do.  Now, I worry it’s never going to stop increasing.   This one may not seem ridiculous but I have zero control over it – so I shouldn’t be thinking about it. 

 Ridiculous worries are just that – ridiculous.  They are merely thoughts that keep my mind entertained during my twenty-five minute commute.  Oh, I forgot to mention that?  My commute has been cut by an hour each way.  That is one worry I don’t have in the suburbs.

 Life is good.


179 thoughts on “Suburban Worries

  1. I’ve lived in the ‘burbs for 10 years now. There are days when I need an escape. Work usually accomplishes this for me because I teach at a university and there’s a lot of diversity among the students. We also have nicknames for our neighbors. One was The Gap Family, because they all looked so perfect like they had just stepped out of a Gap ad. It was super annoying and didn’t help with all of those keeping-up-with-the-Joneses feelings you get in the suburbs. They moved. We were glad. 🙂

    • It’s refreshing to hear that you have nicknames too! I love the Gap family – I get a great mental picture. I also make up what I think our neighbors do for their professions. I have no idea what they really do, but it keeps me entertained.

      • We have a girl in our suburban neighbourhood who we spotted more than ten years ago at the playground pushing her daughter in the swing and wearing a pair of track pants with “Juicy” printed on the rump. We didn’t know her name and started calling her “Juicy” whenever she wasn’t around.
        Years later we were formally introduced to her at a neighbour’s house…. her name is Judy! Imagine that! Now we are fearful that we will one day call her “Juicy” to her face.
        Moral of the story…. beware of nicknames!

  2. Benjamin and I found the happy medium in a college town – not the city, not the suburbs – still have concerns about neighbors and trash cans though. And the ugliest park EVER. Ooo!! I think I’ll do a post about that!!

  3. I’ve always lived in the suburbs and we’re trying to get even farther out. One thing I never understood about city living: how can you stand being surrounded by people ALL THE TIME? I hate people, and would be perfectly happy going a week without seeing anyone but my husband; I seriously don’t get it…

    • I’ve always lived in the ‘burbs, too, and probably always will.I’m no big fan of noise and people either. But as I get older, I find the idea of a pedestrian lifestyle appealing, and that seems to be associated with city life.

    • I grew up on a farm and still live at home. I love living in a rural area! I like being able to walk out to my car in nothing but underwear and a t-shirt 🙂 Ultimate Privacy!

  4. I used to live in the country as a teen and all I wanted was to move into the city, into a suburb like all of my friends. That never happened until a year ago. Now all I want is to move back to the country lol. I find it so awkward that we live beside all of these neighbours and the most we can do is to manage a smile or a quick wave. In the country we had two neighbours. We were very close with them but far apart enough to have privacy. Now I worry when our recycling bins are out longer than everyone else’s. OH life. lol

  5. My parents live in the suburbs and when I was growing up there, they were pretty good about knowing the names of their neighbors. It did help that my mom had lived in the same house when she was fourteen and some of the neighbors had stayed since then, but when I think about moving back there, about the lack of things to do or places to go (everything closes around 8) I find myself wondering how even they can stand it. I get that they have a nice house and a quiet street and no neighbors having weird sex in the apartment above at all hours, but it just seems so stagnant.

    Maybe I’ll understand when I’m older.

  6. What caught my attention in the post was about that “isolated” feeling when you believe all the neighbors are vampires ! Yes , because you don’t see them anytime. Doors closed all the time, but you see lights on at night, car present at sometimes, but absent at some other times[so you know somebody is in there] and rarely do I see any person coming in or going out of the house. I guess you are more of a city person. Trust me, I have had those depressing moments when I lend my ear to the window at odd times of the day….just to listen to any person out there. I doubt at times if there was an apocalypse outside when I was having lunch…lol.
    Oh well, what these isolated places taught me was to have a virtual life….yes the online internet life, which is why I saw your blog and commenting in first place ! I am sure you will figure out a way to reconcile.Good luck !

  7. LOL I grew up in suburbia and know exactly what you’re talking about. Although I’ve actually gained a lot of weight since I moved to the big city. I used to be able to go on nature hikes and long bike rides, but once in the city, the gym’s too expensive and my kitchen’s too small too cook; not to mention the smoke detector goes off at the slightest bit of STEAM. -.- Nevertheless, I love the big city, but am going to have to move back to suburbia next year… )=

  8. Great post! In my 20’s, I couldn’t wait to move into the bustling downtown of a big city. In my 30’s, I couldnt wait to get into a house and quiet neighborhood. Now, in my 40’s, I can imagine looking down the line 10-15 years and getting back to the hustle and bustle of a place where lawns don’t need to be mowed and the best restaurants and market is just up the street.

  9. Suburbs are being redesigned for the future with green living areas but more high rise to accomodate the rising population. Garbage dumping and disposal is major research. Where does the waste go, not to mention plastic garbage? Unless we discover cheap alternative fuel, suburban life-style will grind to a zero. Twenty to fifty dollar a gallon gasoline? Will suburban salaries keep up? Bread would have to sell for $50/-, Milk for $50/-, a shirt for $1000/- to allow employers to pay salaries to employees who wish to continue to afford their gasoline to commute. I hear alternate fuel research work is going on at a furious pace.

  10. I also have suspicious thoughts about my neighbors. Once, I was convinced one of my neighbors had died because I hadn’t seen them for days and there were all these huge mutant flies buzzing around. Turns out, they were just on vacation.

  11. ….get back while you still can….too long & the Stepford Wife thing starts sounding normal. I even own an apron !
    Also, check out an ancient movie (80’s) called ‘The ‘Burbs’ with Tom Hank- a horror/comedy where they become obsessed with their neighbors as well….it’ll make you feel better !

  12. I haven’t quite figured out why we’re all so obsessed by what our neighbours might get up to. Are we just nosy? Or maybe we just like making up stories, and not knowing our neighbours makes them excellent material. We have fantasized about our red-haired / blond / blue-haired (depending on the day) neighbour who sometimes wears a t-shirt with a pole dancing advert but rarely seems to leave the house.

    • I think the key to not being overly curious about a neighbor is to know them. I know all of my neighbors fairly well, and when I see them doing something that i can’t quite figure out, or don’t see them for a few days, I don’t wonder. They are living life like the rest of us. But, like you, I may wonder about them if their whole life was a mystery to me.

  13. my boyfriend and I just bought a house in the ‘burbs! 2 weeks before we did we actually said: “We will NEVER live in the suburbs.” Famous last words.

    We got the keys to the door today.. impeccable timing : ) Now we know what to look forward to.

    • The ‘burbs are simply a compromise between the city ant-heap and the country isolation. Who wants a 400 sq ft condo on the 10th floor when you can have a house and a yard for the same price?

  14. Hahaha! I remember thinking that about gas prices when I didn’t have a car too. Now I want to cry every time I fork over $50+ to fill up my Volkswagen Beetle (!). I want to move to the city, but then I also want to move back to the little college town I went to school in, so it seems more likely I’ll be in the “suburbs” and have some of these worries. 🙂

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  15. Welcome to the grown ups world. I’m from Australia, and no one really can afford to live in the city. In fact, suburbs for major cities spread out over a 200km radius these days, and people spend upto 4 hours to commute to work and then another 4 to get home. 2 hours is the norm, each way.

  16. My major annoyances are neighbor dogs pooping in my tulips and parties that keep the kiddies awake too late. But I do get to hear frogs and owls at night. Great trade off if you ask me.

    Cutting an hour off the commute each way is amazing! Seriously!

  17. Mmmm, I grew up in a working-class suburb and disliked it. At 46, I still love best to be in a bustling downtown. I hate having to drive to get to anything on the weekends, and I love that gentle tide of energy around me as people go one way or the other 24/7. City folks give their neighbors their personal space. Paradoxically, it’s much better for more private people. In the suburbs, you have to pretend these cozy, affable relationship to people you really don’t know and don’t have much in common with. Easier to just live in the country at that point, where you don’t have to feel awkward for not making any damned eye contact with anyone. You don’t have the mental privacy of the country OR the city, and you still have to drive to get any damned place.

    Essentially, the suburbs make me feel like I’m being slowly embalmed while I’m still alive.

  18. We live in the ‘country’ about five minutes from a small town. The town is over a hundred years old now so it doesn’t have the look or feel of suburbia. Because I work out of town, it’s been difficult to establish relationships in the same way that some that work together and live in the same town. That’s where our isolation begins. Busy with life and the commute and we end up being the ‘Gap family’.

  19. The burbs give me the screaming heebie jeebies. I am a city boy, born and bred.

    I like structures that are seriously vertical. I like density and the challenges and opportunities is presents. For example, you can garden, grill, etc. in the city. It requires pots and a small patio, balcony, or the like. We can even keep a few chickens here in the city too, love fresh eggs!

    I like being able to WALK to the supermarket, the electronics store, great restaurants. I like not having about where to park a car.

    I also like not having to mow grass, not having to shovel snow, none of that. I’ definitely of the Zha Zha Gabor camp.

    I find the burbs a tremendous waste of space and resources.

  20. We live in the country about five minutes from town. The small town in Northern California is over a hundred years old so most of the residents are at least familiar with one another. Anything but suburbia here. I work out of town most of the time. This further lends us a feeling of isolation not known by those that work and live here. So between the busyness of life and the commute, we easily become the Gap family.

  21. I like living in the city, in a neighborhood, in the city. I could not deal with living miles away from everything, but houses. I think living in a condo would make me nuts. I don’t want to know when my neighbor dropped a deuce, or smell what the guy 2 floors up is smoking.

  22. Fun. Funny. True. Totally true. I owe my 30+ extra ten pounds to my fairly recent car purchase.
    Speaking of being 30, I’d love to have your presence on my performance blog called project1979. It’s an examination about why the X/Y generation is just so fabulous.
    Yeah, you! Congrats on the freshly pressed goodness. Keep up the GREAT work!

  23. I come from a country where neighbours think everything about everyone is their business…so I find the Suburbs here respectful of privacy, very peaceful almost blissful(I would love to do without the driving to work or store though). Yes, we do have that occasional neighbour’s dog that decides our lawn is the perfect place to pile its poo but we mostly know each other enough to know whos who, who lives where and who has children/and pets… I enjoyed your subtle sense of humour. What worries me is way the housing market is, I get the feeling of my feet stuck in concrete.

  24. I grew up in the suburbs, and while I don’t live there now many of my friends have gotten married and migrated back so I get to visit from time to time. Hopefully you are secluded enough that you get to see the stars at night, that’s the only thing I really miss.

    Also you should see the Tom Hanks movie The ‘burbs if you haven’t. It’s quite enjoyable.

  25. Well written post! I am in my early 30’s as well but I stayed firmly planted in the city and I walk or bus almost every where I can (my car stays put 97% of the time) so I can see how it would be very easy to pick up fast food when driving! Those places aren’t convenient for me when I’m on foot, but when I used to drive more they were very easy. I know a lot of people my age who have moved out to the quieter neighborhoods because it’s “nicer” but then they don’t know more any of their neighbors (if any), and yet it seems like living in a core neighborhood, we talk to a lot of the people we meet on the street and know almost everyone in our building. It’s very interesting how society perceives various lifestyles in light of the different types of neighborhoods ex. living right in the city as opposed to living in the suburbs! There are certainly pros and cons to both and I think you did a lovely job of painting a portrait of your own situation 😉 good luck – and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • I totally agree with you about how society perceives things differently. Something of a “the grass is greener” syndrome . . . or maybe less green?

      I live in a city, and while I don’t know as many of my neighbours as I did when I lived in the suburbs, the ones I do know I have more in common with, and am more likely to stop and chat with. In the city, neighbours doesn’t just mean other residents, it also means business owners and employees, people passing through, etc. In the suburbs I felt like everyone was constantly watching, but in a gossipy way versus in a friendly way.

      • Oh yes! The business owners are lovely 🙂 it’s so nice, the ones you get to know when you frequent their shops. I remember earlier this year at the end of winter I had stopped at our local bakery to get a few things and was visiting with the shop keeper’s wife and before I left she said to be careful because there was ice under the snow and it’s very slippery! How thoughtful is that?! I just adore the businesses in my neighborhood, they are so friendly.

  26. Oh ALL the women in our neighborhood were atwitter when one day, while on a walk, one of them passed the garbage of the guy who threw a lot of parties (he’s since moved). There was an empty box for a sex swing sitting there by the garbage. That news travels FAST. BIG news in the ‘burbs. None of us had ever been to his parties. He ran a nightclub in the city, so I guess all the good stuff does happen there. We’re in the NW Chicago suburbs, BTW! We’d love to get out of here and get into Chicago but our mortgage is way underwater and we’re gonna be in this house a long time now. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

  27. I grew up in Toronto burbs and while we could play freely as children it was BORING when I got older. I now live in London (England) and I love proper city life. I love not having to drive and having good public transport. There are annoyances though, mostly stemming from people sucking but you take the good with the bad. It’s expensive to buy we may end up in London suburbia but some how I think it will still trump where I grew up.

  28. I don’t have children so there is no compelling reason for us to live in ‘burbs. (and his children are adults with own places).

    So you eat more fast food when you drive more often? Maybe it’s to relieve boredom or faster life?

    I wouldn’t know: I’m a cyclist and car-free..for last 3 decades. Nothing wrong with ‘burbs: just have some trees, sidewalks for safe walking, parkland and local transit system near by. Is that asking too much for healthier communites?

  29. Guess I don’t feel so bad about all the random thoughts ruminating through my mind daily. Very funny about the Vampires because I have lived in my house in the city for over 7 years and I swear I have NEVER seen some of the neighbors day or night! The houses are not abandoned and I was working pretty much from sun up to sun down for the first 6 years here, but the last year? I think there is definately something funny when you have never seen a person in the front of their yard in that many years!

  30. I’m in the suburbs 15 minutes from the city but my sister lives downtown. I’m so jealous that she can walk everywhere! BUT she has no yard and less space. It’s such a toss up!!

  31. Yup, we succumbed to the suburbs as well: from the south bronx to nyack ny, from subways to cars, sidewalks to driveways, and from ignoring leaves to leaf-blowing them, for real. We are loving it, though. My favorite thing is going to the supermarket, tossing the groceries in the trunk and carrying them 10 feet from the car to the kitchen. No more schlepping 5-10 blocks with gallons of milk. (Then again, all that schlepping did burn some calories…)

    Nice post and congrats on the FP!

  32. We totally take pictures of each others garbage day piles and then text each other how ashamed we should all be. I grew up totally the opposite of what a gated, country club community is, (I was names after a man, Abbie Hoffman, who spent his entire life trying to make pot legalized) and I now take great pride in keeping my “REAL housewife neighbors on their toes!” I love the suburbs, even if I was born to hate them. Cheers to you for being Freshly Pressed! Who does a girl have to sleep with? Cheers to cocktails on the decks while the kids play.

  33. I grew up in a Chicago neighborhood with class. We knew every family on both sides of our block, and many people on the blocks extending away from us. Since college, I’ve lived in suburban settings and have enjoyed the solitude and garbage pick up days. Lately, I yearn to live in a high rise overlooking Lake Michigan. My wife sees it otherwise, she grew up in a four story walk-up and never wants to live in a crowded place again.
    I know many people in my town because I am active in groups; church, Lions Club, garden club, etc. Knowing people gives me the same flavor I had growing up in that Chicago neighborhood.
    Thank you for a very thought provoking piece.

  34. A great way to meet some neighbors is to bake up a batch of cookies, take some around to different houses. Just knock on the door and introduce yourself! My husband and I have done this a few times in our neighborhood (I make chocolate chip banana bread). We visit four to five houses, usually starting with the ones closest to ours. Good luck!

  35. Just bought our first house – we stayed in the city and paid through the nose. Couldn’t stomach the ‘burbs though. I’m in total denial and think we’re still cool. It’s not even 10pm on a Friday night and I’m going to bed. Yeahhhh rock out city girl.

  36. My biggest fear is moving to the suburbs. All I think about is that scene from Edward Scissorhands where all of the identical vehicles pull out of the identical driveways of the identical houses at the same time. You are obviously thriving! Love the blog!

  37. Really very good house and environment. I would like these kind of flats in and around Bangalore………..Thank you for sharing.

  38. I am with you on not liking the suburbs, thats where I grew up, but I would hate it in the city more. The only thing worse than having obnoxious ghost neighbors in the suburbs would be having MORE of them in the city. I guess I was born to be a farmer. Good luck on your escape.

  39. How can I be happy in the country if my hobby or favorite occupation is connected with city life?
    How can I be happy in town if my hobby or favorite occupation is connected with country life?
    Tastes differ. There is no point in convincing anybody in anything. One feels best and at ease where one can be really happy and make others be happy.

  40. All of the above is why after two years, I again LEFT the suburbs and re-fit my life into an apartment in the city. Is it super ideal for two adults and a dog? Not entirely, but thanks to generally great year-round weather and several beautiful parks (dog and otherwise) nearby, we make it work.

    There are good things to the suburbs of course… but you definitely have to be ready for it. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with a difficult HOA or anything 🙂

  41. Well said! I’ve found that “hey, what a cute dog” or “I love the flowers you have in your front yard” can often get a conversation going with a neighbor, if you happen to spot them in daylight hours.

  42. I am a brazilian who lives in a small town in Sweden. I had never owned a house either, but then I moved in with a swedish guy (and moved to another country!). I find myself worrying all the time, in fact, I discovered that my new lifestyle is worrying. I worry about things I would never dream of, such as the housing market, for example. We just bought an apartment and we´re both anxious types, ones who have a hard time to make big decisions. The levels of anxiety skyrocket and I am not ready for a vanilla coloured life, I´m only 27.

  43. i can’t imagne not living in a california,i lived in fullerton a suburb to texas,just i lived outside dallas,in garland..the issue of living in a suburb to me is most people that’s where i lived./i’ve only been noticing concentratrion on the burb talk in the past maybe 5 or six years //

  44. This is really great. It absolutely shows our changes and growth( although not in the normal sense). I remember turning middle-aged and suburban. One of the greatest joys in my life was the day I got a washing machine of my very own. THAT PROVED I HAD GONE OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE(OVER 30 GROUP). In my childhood, teens, young adult, and mover and shaker status I never cared about a washing machine, but once I found some roots(a semi-permanent place to live) I changed. No longer could I stand the trudge to the laundry mat. No longer could I carry all those clothes and soap and hangers. No longer would I have to convert my financial gains into a $20.00 roll of quarters. No longer would I have to plan my life based upon laundry day. I BOUGHT A WASHING MACHINE AND FINALLY ACHIEVED INDEPENDANCE. I WAS FREE.

    Life is strange. Thanks. Keep Blogging. Keep Writing.

  45. I actually love the burbs. I get to hide in plain sight. I’m an illustrator/aritst and when people figure that out. they constantly use that as a conversation starter, Or they’ll tell their friends who approach me with the dreaded, “So and so told me you’re an artist. What project are you working on?”
    My neighbors don’t know, I don’t tell them. They don’t know each other, They can’t use me to break up silences, or as a substitute tv set.
    It’s heavenly.

  46. Hi, I loved this article. I am 35yrs old & have lived in the suburbs my whole life, until about 5 months ago. My home needed renovations and I had to move in with a friend in the city until they were completed. I miss my burbs and my neighbors. City life confounds me. Maybe I’ll write a contrast with a citation for you 🙂

  47. I share you sentiments about the suburbs. Although I love the peace I have found in my suburb I never thought I’d be the type of person to live in a vinyl village and have all the responsibilities that come with it. I too get annoyed at the trash that drifts into my yard every trash day. It’s like the suburban tumble weed. There are pros and there are cons but mostly it’s been a fresh start with way more pros than cons.

  48. I’ve lived in the suburbs and in a small city and I really prefer the city. Well, I would say I’d either like to live in the city or be a hermit in the woods or our at the farthest point of a peninsula where no one can bother me. I can definitely relate to everything you’ve said about suburbs and all the additional silly worries they bring. In my opinion, suburbs were a bad idea from the start and really were just like little life rafts for people to escape the “dangerous” and less than genteel environs of an urban environment. So yeah, couple boring sedentatiness, gas prices and car maintenance, and trash cans, it’s just not worth it. 🙂

  49. And the circle continues. . . My wife and I lived in NYC for five years after graduate school. Have lived in the suburbs in NC for 27 years. No children, just three dogs. As my career takes another turn, it looks like I’ll be moving back into the city — ATL.

    From my perspective, living in the suburbs is much better in a mid-sized town (e.g., Raleigh, NC) than a big city (NYC, ATL, Chicago).

  50. I don’t live in the suburbs. But my job has recently moved to the suburbs. So lets just say I’m a frequent visitor . Before the move I use to walk everywhere (6-8 miles a day, often times running cause I was running late). I use to take the bus to work. Meet random people. Chit chat at the stop. You know, interact with other human beings. I use to sit and watch beautiful days go by riding the train to and from wherever. I had time to read, write, take pictures. Some of the best times in my life have been spent with friends talking and laughing while someone else did the driving (or conducting).

    Not owning a car for the last 8 (really 36 or 37 of the last 42) years did not and does not make me some sort of saint. But I did feel that being able to get around on public transportation alone made the world and me both a bit better (or at least not worse … or at least not worse for that reason). Now with the move that’s largely gone. Now (for now) I spend my mornings moving up and down the highway like an ant, burning fossil fuel , alone in my little wheeled box, just like everyone else.

    Before I was able to go on walks at lunch time and listen to music. Now ? I can’t go for walks at all because there are no sidewalks out here, damn it lol. There’s not much of anything here (yes, I am “here” , now). Except for box stores that look just alike , filled with shoppers who look just alike, who probably live in the homes I pass on the way here that look just alike .

    With all due respect (and I mean that) the Suburbs is insanity !

  51. Ah trash, I know! I have one neighbor who throws away the most random things and the always have 3+ bins to everyone else’s 1. I just can’t imagine where all their trash comes from, but it seems like they are doing a cleaning job that never ends. 🙂

  52. Your pretty lucky if all your neighbors do is leave out the trash cans. I’m the neighbor that you are talking about. I don’t rake my leaves in the fall. I wait for them to blow into my neighbors yard and let them do it. I don’t cut my grass when it’s 3″ tall. My son and I wait each other out to see who will cave in and cut it. I usually lose. I play loud music, in my back yard, early in the morning with my grandkids and late at night with my friends until someone calls the cops. I learned that there is a 10 o’clock noise ordinance! But I do love most of my neighbors…they probably just don’t like me!

  53. Really enjoy the way you write. I am absorbed into it much enjoyable than my readings in class as a non-native English speaker. I am following you now. Keep writing and keep having fun in life. Cheer!

  54. I think it’s becoming the natural progression of growing up. As much as the young us despise the cookie cutter houses of the suburbs, with a family we shift priorities to the school, the safety or the yard the suburbs might afford. The neighbor thing is a frustrating one as everybody has shifted from front porches to back decks. I and others in the neighborhood have started to do neighborhood block parties as means of getting to know the neighbors and creating a community.

  55. Oh I am always so suspicious of neighbors. When I was a kid we lived in a small 5 or 6 unit trailor park just outside a state recreational park. The trailer accross from us I swear always contained drug dealers. We called it the junkie house. Everytime a weirdo would get kicked out or move, a new one would move in. All the oether houses had decent neighborly neighbors. But not junkie house. It always had wife beaters. Meth dealers. Creepy couples who you wouldnt want your kids around. Nudist speedo guy. The only decent person I remember living there was a software pirate.
    To this day, I live in a small residential area now, I still creep at my neighbors thru curtains and imagine all sorts of weird ilegal things to explain their behavior.

  56. Great post. I must say though that having lived in the city when single, the country while raising children and rural/suburbs now that I am retired, get to know your neighbours! You never know when you may need them. You don’t have to be a “Desperate Housewife” but it is good to know who you can count on.

  57. Hahaha! Best quote from this post:

    “I am obsessed with my neighbors. I’m convinced they are all vampires and only come out at night.”


  58. I don’t think I’ve lived in a “city” but a couple times and even then it wasn’t a BIG one – I do not say that Ashland or Fbks are BIG cities … yet I enjoyed my time there. 🙂 People are way too entertained in their houses to bother stepping outside for a walk at night or any other reason … everyone’s WAY too busy it seems to me.
    I used to live in the SF Bay area and on the way home at 10:30 p.m. there would be SOOO many cars on the interstate that I would usually yell – “You have such nice BIG homes to be in – why are you OUT?!?” LOL! I used to entertain me children that way ….

  59. This is interesting as I feel you’re a step ahead of me. I’ve just entered my 20s and live in the city. I know it won’t last forever, but for now I like being 10 minutes away from shops, bars, cinemas etc. I hate not knowing my neighbours, but I’m willing to wait another few years before I think of heading to the suburbs. x

  60. I live in the ‘burbs (of Chicago) and I’m creepily (or so that’s the word my husband uses to describe it) obsessed with my neighbors as well. We live in an apartment building and we have names for people too. The man above us is The Michael Bay fan. We call him this because we’re convinced that everything he watches is written, produced, directed, etc. by Michael Bay. There are always these ridiculous sounds of explosions and battles coming from his apartment.

    Another neighbor is The Family with that Poodle. These people have a little poodle they’ve taught to play hide and seek. The first time I saw it I thought it was cute. The 8193749274393rd time? Uh, not so much. While they’ve taught this dog to play a cute and harmless game, when the dog “finds” you he barks…incessantly and at all hours. It’s not cute anymore.

  61. I’m a twentysomething thinking a lot of those things! In my mind the ‘burbs sound too “vanilla”, as you refer to it. Nice to know they aren’t complete torture 🙂

  62. Hello
    I live in the burbs in the Toronto, Canada.
    Our areas as are most of the surrounding burbs are well blended, I like your title it fits with my topic but my concerns are different.
    All the best

  63. suburbs are a weird concept I feel. As anything it has its pros and cons but i see them as cash farms. Gas, utilities, mortgages, insurance, permits…its too much for me. To each their own.

  64. Nice Artcle…We have three kiddos under three and I’m not really feeling the whole idea of living in the suburbs again…It seems that no one is ever outside and no one ever talks?? I feel like I would be lost in suburbia….

  65. Great Post. We have three kiddos under three and I’m not feeling the whole idea of living in the burbs again. It seems that no one is ever outside and no one ever talks to each other beyond gardening, kids and the trash.

  66. welldone.great post,really good house. Environment is very good i would like these kind of flat in Bangalore.Thank you for sharing.

  67. surprisingly, not that I have a lot remaining, but I had been pulling my hair out on the lookout for something on the subject of this topic today then simply right when I found myself gonna surrender your website turns up out of the blue

  68. You have my sympathies – I lived in Chicago ‘burbs for 4 months – and put on 6lbs! Once you hit your 50’s you don’t give a rat’s thingy what your neighbours are doing, hopefully you’re doing something more interesting than they are.

  69. this post is very informative and funny, I like it.. well, living in the rural side in my country is more than a mess!! living in the city is also a trash especially when you don’t have real cash to live like my politicians do.. well, one thing that keeps me going is dreaming big that one day things will be alright. will someone here make that dream come to past?

  70. Enjoyed your piece, well written. A thought on your neighbours…if you are working all day and they are working all day…when would you see each other? Maybe a block party once a year would dispell some of those vampire impressions…then again, maybe they’re all in the witness protection program!

  71. Great piece, first time visitor. I live in a small town in rural Ireland, not too far from Dublin. Small towns can be great when it comes to raising your kids, but not so great when it comes to attitudes. Lucky enough to have great neighbours who are not vampires, some may be ware wolves though 🙂

  72. I’ve lived in the suburbs and the city and I like both but there is one thing I hate about the suburbs: people shut themselves in! They have these huge houses, lush parks, people don’t know who their neighbours are and they avoid each other like the plague. You’re so close to people in the city you’re kind of obliged to interact with them. Even though people can be annoying, I think I much prefer the city to the burbs.

  73. I don’t know my neighbours either- possibly because I live above some shops and these are classed as my neighbours, but as I am always out working when they are in working, we never meet! I do suspect that these shops never open. Clearly nothing happens unless I’m there to personally witness it.

  74. I am a COMPLETE curtain twitcher – I’m sure my neighbours must think I have no life! I need to know where the roaring cars are going to and from when they race up and down our road. And litter? I am convinced one teenage girl on our road is deliberately chucking it out side our house. My husband thinks I have lost it – but he married me :o) and he is quite neurotic too:o)

  75. As a 20-something living in a city, this is like looking into my future. I’d really rather not ever live in the suburbs (I had enough of that growing up). I’m an artist, so the city makes more sense as a home, but you never know where life takes you.

  76. Your experience is very much like my own. I moved from living in downtown, lively Baltimore to an almost rural suburb of Cincinnati located in Kentucky. The neighbors I know are fantastic and the wildlife ain’t too bad either.

  77. I used to live in the surbubs too… Lived 3 years in the place never knew who lived next door…


    Well, i’m they also pass for vampires….

  78. Having lived in a small recreational community for over 25 years, we just moved to a condo smack downtown in the big city. What I like better: resturants, theatres, no yard work, no driving to work. What I miss: knowing the neighbors and caring about their day, their kids, their lives. Find an allie, a kindered spirit in your hood. Someone you can’t wait to catch up with when allllll the yard work is done. Lifes to short to worry about the trash.

  79. I’ve lived in all 3–city, rural, and suburban, and muchly prefer the suburban lifestyle–near stuff, but not too near that I am surrounded by noise and annoyingly close people 🙂

  80. Out of the subs, after 10 years, now in a quaint town over looking Puget Sound. Subs are interesting. Great for raising young children. I think I joined 3 gyms! I went a few times. Congrats on Freshly Pressed. Happy Day. I’m a former school teacher who writes a blog with humor on Aspergers. ~ Sam

  81. Life in the suburbs definitely has its pros and cons. I’ve lived in suburbs most of my life, but as much as I thought I would hate living in the city, I actually prefer it – and even miss it.

  82. I feel like I could have written this. (Not two minutes ago, I was begrudgingly picking up empty cigarette packs and potato chip bags lovingly deposited by my neighbors’ trash can.) I often say that if my 17-year-old self could see me now and listen to my thoughts, she’d bitch-slap me. -Violet

  83. Wow!so im living in new zealand and looking at America in a really odd way now. I’ve never been to America but the Suburbs sound like the whole of new zealand minus the fact that everyone knows everyone here. You know your neighbours to a tee and sometimes they become your best friends, nobody cares about trash except those exiled from society living in those country club mansions that they think puts them on top of everyone else! but really our economy is so lame that basically they just have a way bigger mortgage. Well done for interesting me through the whole blog though, well written and an honest opinion of your ridiculous worries.

  84. Girlfriend, you need me. Here’s the plan: you send a flyer over to your neighbor who can’t control his trash. Invite him to a party to welcome your cousin Jason from Massachusetts who just got out of an in-patient program where he was sentenced for decapitating someone for dropping a cigarette butt in front of him after Jason has just picked up every single fucking one in Harvard Square by hand (I know I sound impassioned about but I’m not Jason…don’t worry…my name’s Arthur if it worries you) So, of course the invitation you give to your neighbor ends up in your yard as trash. He can’t say you didn’t invite him. So, then, one day, Jason shows up and starts doing his calisthenics (sp?) in the front yard while neighbor is putting out his trash…complete with hockey mask, machete and chanting slogans like: “death to litterers”; “I’ll fuck up the next motherfucker that causes one piece of trash to come into this yard”…and it’s all good cause his therapist says it’s ok to “vent” from your own yard particularly when it’s not being directed at anyone in particular…
    Disclaimer: I love all people but litterers are not people therefore they have no souls therefore..

  85. Oh goodness, I understand you perfectly. Although the last time I lived in a suburb or a smallish big city town (comparatively to the rest of the state, but tiny compared to the bigger cities out there), gas prices were nice and low. Now, I don’t think I could take the hit in my wallet.

  86. I’ve lived in the suburbs my entire life. The main oddity I noticed as a home owner of our current house, or was annoyed by, were the neighbors who had immaculate garages and yards. Like you’d drive by and they’d have three things in their garage, perfectly arranged and color coded. And when you rolled in after a long week of working they’d be happily finishing up their lawn work as if they magically get out of work at 3pm on Fridays. My garage always looked like a gravel pit that we could barely move around in. And it was a miracle if I got to cutting the grass by Sunday afternoon. I don’t know, just struck me as odd that all these people had all this free time. For our sanity we’re moving out to the country a wee bit so it won’t matter as much what our yard looks like, or our garage for that matter.

  87. LOL :)) You are absolutely right! When I was lived in suburb I used to judge people who live in the city, “They are so lazy and rich! they must be can’t cook or even differentiate a cow and a bull!” But now, when I live in the city and found that I need 2-3hours ride from the office to my home because of the traffic jam.. and I yell again “O man.. how can I even cook for my self, I just want to go to the bed directly!” :)) That’s a bit about my lovely day in Jakarta

  88. I lived in a small Texas rural town and hated it. Nothing is more stressful than a commute. I felt like I spent most of my days traveling in a car to work, to get milk, to entertainment, etc. Now we live in a city, close to downtown and I love the public transportation. Today, I walked .3 miles to the mall and bought the cutest jacket from Chico’s. I’m a city girl.

  89. A big change that happened to me when I moved in into a house with a backyard, is that all the sudden I made a huge deal out of the amount of control I had over my territory and the people living around it.

  90. Great article! My husband moved from the inner city to suburbia about three years ago. We solved the inner conflict by just resigning to be the Addams family of our neighbourhood — we put bat houses on our façade and I go for barefoot walks with my one-eyed cat on a leash. I’m sure the neighbours talked but once you’re known to be the weird people, you can pretty much do whatever you want.:) I’m on friendly terms with pretty much all of our immediate neighbours — no trash issues, thank god!

  91. You might also be interested in Urban Beekeeping. It’s another great way to enjoy living in the suberbs. The page I have linked to gives some details about what to consider. Urban honey is also of great quality due to the plant and flower diversity.

    There is also a new tye type of beehive in the UK which is suitable for suburban beekeeping. I have written a bit asbout it – Beehaus Review. It makes beekeeping a bit more accessible.

  92. At last there’s someone like me in the World. I worry about everything too and thought your post was FAB. I also give nicknames to people, neighbours usually I don’t know, and I make up stories about them. 🙂

  93. Isn’t this what always happens when we as adults find ourselves with a little more time then we are suppose to have. I’m just saying that i know what its like when i find myself in the midst of a moment where i am not busy doing something and begin to let things like my sorrows and worries sink in. It’s rough but considering how much B.S. we swallow on a daily basis it’s natural to feel this way. But to let it consume us is another thing and what could possibly lead everyone to mommy jeans if we are not careful. And i quote myself, T Y!

  94. We recently bought a house an hour outside of Miami. We were living in the middle of South Beach, biking to work, and listening to the hum of a window unit A/C. I complained about the tourists, the suburbanites coming to our city to get drunk, the holiday weekends when the beach was full of douche bags, and of course our high rent for very little space…… So we left. We moved an hour north and bought a 2800 square foot house with a view of a natural preserve. Now I get frustrated that our neighbors park in front of our house and that feral cats sneak in to our backyard from a hole under our fence.
    I get what you’re saying…. I am about to be thirty this year.
    Life has taken on a new meaning…. And its boring.

  95. I moved to a rural neighborhood 2 years ago, and if someone told me today that I could go back to my city life, but that I had to do it immediately, I would, with just the clothes on my back (or not, actually. I’d better carry my crown at all times in case this opportunity actually occurs.) Don’t go Heart of Darkness out there — be yourself.

  96. OH MY GOSH I have vampire neighbors too!! I thought it was just us! They also a) NEVER mow their lawn. Never. It’s like living next to a dandelion colony. b) They leave out trash too. Like DAYS after trash day. So. Annoying. c) We never see them. The wife had a freaking baby and we didn’t even know she was pregnant. I just *happened* to catch a glimpse of her with a car seat. The husband never acknowledges us. To the point where MY husband will deliberately stare at him to try to get some sort of neighborly wave or at least a head nod. Nada. Plus, we live in a cul-de-sac so you it’s even more close-knit. We don’t really know our neighbors but we are on waving/nodding terms with all except THEM. Great blog post!! I always swore I would never live in the burbs. I survive by telling myself we live there ironically 🙂

  97. Great post! I’ve lived in the ‘burbs for most of my life…I guess I’m just domesticated like that. I totally know what you’re talking about with the trash…it’s so funny, the things you worry about when you live in a house and have neighbors.
    My boyfriend and I went to Sydney, Australia last year and I had my first real taste of “city life”. It was intoxicating, I’m not gonna lie. There was something about the bustle and activity going on at all hours of the day. It seemed like there was always something to do. I thought seriously about moving there. But quickly decided it couldn’t happen. The food is too bad to make a long term commitment. LOL. 🙂 I also remembered…I’m just not a city girl.

    Thanks for the reflection, it made me smile.

  98. The apartment complex I lived in for six years was definitley full of vampire neighbors. Apparently because I didn’t (and don’t) have kids that run around in the courtyard, I was not adequate material for friending, or even being polite to.

    We are truly blessed that when we bought a house, we actually met our neighbors. Within a week of moving in last year I think half the block had showed up at our front door, or in our backyard, as we were unpacking and trying to tame the front yard. And then there was the epic car crash that happened down our block – nothing brings neighbors together like a mysterious car crash late at night. Best advice for meeting people on your block? I would say stage a car crash, but that is WAY expensive. A bbq (if you have the room for one) and inviting all your neighbors is a great way to go.

  99. Welcome to the suburban wasteland. I’ve lived in it all my life. When I moved out and bough my house I didn’t know any better so I ended up in the same place. If I was smart I would have moved to a small town. The suburbs are great for someone without anxiety problems. I spend most of my time hiding from my neighbors. They scare me.

  100. Moments after I moved to the suburbs from a small mountain town–where I never ate fast food, partly because there wasn’t any–I became a mother. I’m not a McD’s fan–especially when pregnant and nursing–and I began yearning for a drive-through window where I could buy a last-minute tomato. Or a gallon of milk. Another mom–of infant twins–said the guy in the pharmacy drive-through took pity on her once in a while and passed her gallons of milk through the window along with the penicillin. I could never bring myself to ask, even when Gbot was born when Mbot was just 16 months. But I spent my sleepless nights scheming about a drive-through vegetable-and-diaper stand and fantasizing about a drive-through arugula salad. The bots are now 3 and 2, and we all hold hands as we walk across vast parking lots toward the Safeway. But if a drive-through tomato existed, I’d still buy one now and then.

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  102. “I am obsessed with my neighbors.”
    Me too!! When I was little, I knew everyone in the neighborhood. But now, I don’t know any neighbors because no one comes outside! I have some neighbors who close their garage door before they get out of the car – so I only see their minivans and mid-size family cars pulling in and out of their driveways. Ups the curiosity level on my part!
    Enjoyed this post!

  103. I have lived in the suburbs as well. It is a different life. When we first moved into our townhome, I felt the same way. Very distanced from my neighbors, yearning for some kind of attention. Fact is, the only way I started to interact with the people who lived in my community was when I went to the pool. Give that a shot, on a weekend you’ll be sure to hear the gossip, and chime in on a matter if it affects you in any way.Not sure if you live in a community with an HOA(Home Owners Association), but if you, attend the monthly meetings.

  104. I too have experienced and still do experience it in our current suburb we reside in. Moved from a small town filled with friendliness and warmth, Everyone greeted everyone even if you did not know the person!Kids stilled played outside before X-boxes were discovered. But now… I’d be stepping out my door in the mornings and greet my neighbour with a friendly wave and smile and they’d be looking at me as if I’m crazy! I don’t even know their surnames…how weird is that? Could it be that they’ve been indoctrinated via the media that safety is of utmost importance – don’t trust anyone OR the pace of life is just so fast that at the end of a long day all they want to do is unwind and be alone.

  105. I’ve never in my life lived in the suburbs of any country. most of my life has been spent in London and a few years in Copenhagen. I haven’t even vacationed in a suburb…well, i spent a few days at Cambridge for an interview there..if that counts. I have idealistic views of non city lif, mainly from watching Desparate Housewives (the idea of knowing and hanging out with everyone as one big happy/desperatley unhappy family seems real cool), and also from watching “the burbs” (having that much drama in a cul de sac can only be good. and the comraderie from fellow neighbors.. yup, fine for me).
    but then, i kinda have a felling it may not be like that, and i do like the city…but maybe that’s because it’s all I know.

  106. You’ve described part of my concerns for turning 30. I’m still in my 20s, still waiting for my life to somewhat move forward, so I can move out of the suburbs and into a fun city and experience complete hedonism minus that work bit. But 30 sounds too close to comfort.

  107. As a recently married twenty-three year old of rebellious origins, I find myself increasingly freaked out by the idea of the suburbs–especially, being born-and-bred in NJ. However, since I’ve moved to Knoxville, TN, I’ve discovered a nice alternative. That is the residential rural-suburb. That probably doesn’t make sense, but it does more so when you live around here. It’s just close enough to the city and less expensive, but does give you more property and niceness.

  108. I’ve never lived in a city before and I doubt I ever will. There’s way too many people. And as everyone should know: more people equals more problems. No thanks. I prefer being able to go outside without having to worry too much about being mugged or raped or shot. I know the ‘burbs has these problems too, but to a lesser extent, at least in my opinion.

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