Moving to the United States and Benefits of Living in the Suburbs versus the City

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In this Native English Speaker conversation we discuss the benefits of living in the US suburbs and the benefits of living in US cities. If you are thinking about moving to the United States and you don't know if you should live in the suburbs or the city, listen to what we have to say on life in the US!

00:00:00:03 - 00:00:31:17
Mary Daphne
Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back to the Channel. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we have a live conversation with Greg and we're very excited to talk to you about a very interesting topic that pertains very much to living in the U.S.. So we're going to get started.

All right, Greg, you want to know today's topic?

00:00:31:28 - 00:00:34:10
Greg Charles
I would love to know. Today's topic.

00:00:34:21 - 00:00:48:14
Mary Daphne
It's about living in the suburbs and living in the city. Generally speaking, in the U.S. And we're going to talk specifically about the benefits of both OK.

00:00:48:25 - 00:01:06:24
Greg Charles
Yeah. Sounds great. Yeah, there's definitely a significant difference between the suburbs and city. Yeah. And perhaps before we talk about those differences, maybe we first define what a suburb is. Yes. Right. I think most of us know what a city is. But what is a suburb.

00:01:07:12 - 00:01:37:06
Mary Daphne
That's a good question. Well, I'll give my definition and then you can give yours. So essentially a suburb is it's an area that is outside of a major city or a city. And it's the idea of basically being in nature. And there are, you know, highways around you, and you have to drive places to get to this place.

00:01:37:19 - 00:01:38:00
Greg Charles
Yeah.

00:01:38:06 - 00:01:38:26
Mary Daphne
Suburbs.

00:01:38:26 - 00:01:57:25
Greg Charles
Yeah. I would think of a suburb as basically the extension of a city. Right. The less developed extension of a city. So generally speaking, cities get so crowded that there's overflow. Right. People don't want to be cramped up in the city, but they still want to be close to the city. So that's how the suburbs sort of came about right there.

00:01:57:25 - 00:02:18:18
Greg Charles
This sprawl, urban sprawl, they call it that, that starts to develop around the cities. They're not big enough to be their own city. But they are their own distinct communities. And they're intended to be close enough to the city that you can get in, you know, within a reasonable commute for your work and then get back out and see your family at the end of the workday.

00:02:19:02 - 00:02:44:18
Mary Daphne
And you highlighted a key component of it commute. Right. So essentially, you are going to commute to your workplace if you're not working from home, let's say, if you're going into the office. So that would entail driving someplace generally speaking when you're in the suburbs or maybe taking public transportation. But more often it would be someone getting in their car and driving to the workplace.

00:02:45:07 - 00:03:08:00
Greg Charles
Yeah. And in fact, a lot of suburbs, the more vibrant ones do have like you're seeing actual built in infrastructure to get people from the suburbs into the city. So you have what are called commuter rails. Right. And light rail systems where people can just jump right on the train and get in and not have to, you know, drive into a city which can sometimes be difficult with traffic.

00:03:08:11 - 00:03:22:05
Mary Daphne
That's right. And so now we can talk a little bit more with granularity about the type of suburb So there can be dense suburbs, there can be urban suburbs, there can be sparse suburbs.

00:03:22:17 - 00:03:23:06
Greg Charles
Yeah.

00:03:23:08 - 00:03:24:09
Mary Daphne
Do you want to touch upon.

00:03:24:11 - 00:03:45:25
Greg Charles
Yeah. Sure. So there are a wide variety of suburbs. Yeah. And there aren't necessarily strict guidelines as to what is considered what. But, you know, when you're in one of these, you can sort of get a sense of what the deal is. Right. And so you mentioned that dense urban field. Right. So a dense suburb would be something where you might have a bunch of townhouses.

00:03:46:03 - 00:04:08:10
Greg Charles
There's not much greenery, sidewalks. Right. It feels almost like a low key part of the city itself. Yeah. So that feels quite urban. And, you know, some might even classify it as a borough of the city as opposed to the suburbs. Right. But it's generally far enough outside the city to be considered a suburb. So that's the more dense version.

00:04:08:11 - 00:04:21:06
Greg Charles
On the other hand, on the other end of the spectrum, you can have a very sparsely populated suburb. Yeah. And a sparse or thinly populated suburb tends to have much more space.

00:04:21:07 - 00:04:28:19
Mary Daphne
Yeah. Some more land around the house. Is the houses are further apart from each other, not right next to each other.

00:04:28:20 - 00:04:52:19
Greg Charles
Right. More greenery. Right. So there's enough space because there's space between the houses. You can have trees and even the roads might have trees. You're probably also going to see fewer sidewalks just because there's not as much infrastructure for getting around. Right. In in a a sparse suburb, you're probably more likely to need a car to get around.

00:04:52:20 - 00:05:05:28
Greg Charles
Yeah, So and then, you know, you have everything in between that and that just varies depending on. Generally speaking, the further away from a city, you get the more sparse the suburb becomes.

00:05:05:29 - 00:05:29:04
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And so the town might be maybe not not as big, for example, there might not be much to that town specifically. You might have to go to the next town over for there to be maybe restaurants or schools even. So it really can vary like you said, Greg. So that's the suburbs in the U.S., of course, we're talking about the U.S. cultural context.

00:05:29:14 - 00:05:35:05
Mary Daphne
And now let's shift gears and talk a little bit about the city. So what's the definition of a city?

00:05:36:07 - 00:06:04:22
Greg Charles
Well, I think we all know what a city is. But to be specific here, we're talking about a place with a dense urban environment. Yes, right. Typically, it's going to have some kind of built in public transportation system. The population's probably going to exceed 100,000 people. Right. At that point, you start to get really into what I would consider a city, at least for the purposes of this discussion we'll call a city.

00:06:05:01 - 00:06:14:12
Greg Charles
So just, you know, a densely populated sort of concentration of people and buildings and offices and so forth.

00:06:14:20 - 00:06:28:15
Mary Daphne
Exactly. So let's now talk a little bit about the benefits of being in the suburbs Yes.

00:06:28:16 - 00:06:45:00
Greg Charles
So, yeah, the question is, why would anyone want to go to the suburbs? Right. If you have a city and the city has everything you need, right. And everything's so convenient, why would you go to the suburbs? Right. Well, you know, one of the biggest advantages that I feel. Yes. The suburbs have is the peace and quiet.

00:06:45:09 - 00:06:45:22
Mary Daphne
Yes.

00:06:45:28 - 00:07:09:07
Greg Charles
So for me, I love cities, but at the same time, they can get very intense. And sometimes you can even feel claustrophobic or you feel sort of stuck inside a box. Yeah. Right. Whereas the suburbs give you room to spread out and you can hear the birds chirping. And again, there is there does tend to be more greenery.

00:07:09:10 - 00:07:13:16
Greg Charles
Yeah. So that peacefulness of the suburbs is really appealing to me.

00:07:14:09 - 00:07:39:16
Mary Daphne
Right. And like you said, there's a lot of space, a lot more space than you would get. We have a great expression in English, bang for buck. So you get a good bang for Buck, generally speaking, in the suburbs for space. So typically speaking. So I'm thinking of, let's say, New York City because access city, we're both very familiar with in the U.S. and in New York, you know, typically.

00:07:39:19 - 00:07:40:26
Greg Charles
New York City, to be specific.

00:07:40:27 - 00:07:41:14
Mary Daphne
York City.

00:07:41:14 - 00:07:42:16
Greg Charles
As opposed to the state.

00:07:42:21 - 00:07:58:27
Mary Daphne
True. Exactly. Thank you for that clarification. You know, you might not get that much space and you'll be paying quite a bit for that same amount of money. You can get maybe something at least double, maybe even triple or quadruple.

00:07:59:01 - 00:08:01:14
Greg Charles
Yeah, easily triple depending on where you are.

00:08:01:15 - 00:08:33:00
Mary Daphne
Yeah. The amount for that same amount of rent that you would, you know, use for that you spend on renting, you can get something much bigger in the suburbs. And so who does that make sense for? Well, young professionals who are thinking about starting a family or you know, people who already have a family and their kids are going to schools because you do have the potential to have a lot of space.

00:08:33:00 - 00:08:58:22
Mary Daphne
So if you need a lot of rooms, or it can even be for, you know, couples who are optimizing and they want a lot of space in their house, maybe they have home offices, a home gym, especially now with every with a lot more people working from home, that can be something that appeals to people who would like more space and don't necessarily need to be in a city per se.

00:08:59:03 - 00:09:23:15
Greg Charles
Yeah, that's actually something that we see in a lot of in the last two years, demand for suburban real estate has skyrocketed. Right. It's gone way up because suddenly everyone does want their own work from home office. And if there's two people, they both want offices. Right. And to fit a gym and to suddenly you're talking about a three bedroom house plus a basement, you need a lot of space.

00:09:23:15 - 00:09:28:16
Greg Charles
And most of us can't afford that in a city. But in the suburbs, maybe you can.

00:09:28:26 - 00:09:55:00
Mary Daphne
Right. So there's that potential with the space, depending on your needs and space. One thing that I love about the city is that it's so easy to go for walks without even thinking. So if you're someone who's conscious about step counts and tracks their steps, a lot of people like to target that ten K steps per day. Or maybe you have a different goal in mind.

00:09:55:08 - 00:10:12:27
Mary Daphne
Whatever the case with walking in a city, when you're walking to the subway or walking to the bus station or walking to wherever a cafe, you're not even thinking about the steps. You're just doing it. And then at the end of the day, it's a nice surprise. Oh, wow. That many steps today, really.

00:10:13:09 - 00:10:28:20
Greg Charles
It's so true. When I'm in the suburbs, I have to very sort of consciously focus on getting those steps in a day. Often what I do is I jog in place at my desk just to build at the step count, whereas in the city I could easily accidentally blow past your tank.

00:10:29:02 - 00:10:29:22
Mary Daphne
100%.

00:10:29:22 - 00:10:55:28
Greg Charles
Your ten K threshold very, very quickly. So that is nice that that ability to spread out. The other thing I love about cities is the culture right? There's there's a really diverse blend of types of people, right? You have the business types. You have the artistic types. You know, the medical types. It's just cities have such a nice blend of different types of people.

00:10:56:09 - 00:11:08:12
Greg Charles
So when you go out and you meet your friends, more likely you're going to engage with people that are from all different walks of life. So I really like that breadth of sort of.

00:11:09:25 - 00:11:10:01
Mary Daphne
Every.

00:11:10:06 - 00:11:19:24
Greg Charles
City. It's diverse. I want to try to use some other word, but yeah, I like that that breadth of experience that you get in a city because it has so many different types of people.

00:11:20:04 - 00:11:45:09
Mary Daphne
I definitely agree with that. It's a nice place to meet people that you wouldn't normally meet in in a setting because they're just we call them. So if you are maybe not originally from a city, but you move there, let's say post-college or for a job opportunity, they're known as transplants And so there are a lot of people who are there in the city, and they're from all different parts of the U.S. or even around the world.

00:11:45:09 - 00:11:53:21
Mary Daphne
So it's a wonderful opportunity to get to know people other than what you normally would like, who you normally interact with. Yeah, which is nice.

00:11:53:21 - 00:12:06:19
Greg Charles
And what's interesting is it's not even necessarily not. It's not required that you interact with these people. It's just the fact that you walk outside and see people that are different from you. That's much more likely to happen in a city than it is in a suburb.

00:12:06:21 - 00:12:35:18
Mary Daphne
100%. And on that note, because there are people from all around the world and all around the country, the US, you see a lot of diversity in the cuisine in a city. So you'll find very specific types of restaurants that you might have never even heard of. With specific dietary patterns or, you know, cuisines and traditions. And that's really refreshing.

00:12:35:19 - 00:12:41:26
Mary Daphne
I always love exploring different types of food and cuisines when we're in a city.

00:12:42:09 - 00:13:06:04
Greg Charles
Yeah, that's that's a great point. The food scene can be really strong in the city, though. I will say I've been also very impressed with the food scene in the suburbs, too. You know, depending on which suburb you're around you can have a really nice concentration of high quality ethnic food, as we call it, sort of the food that's not considered core American food.

00:13:06:08 - 00:13:32:01
Mary Daphne
Yes, that's very true. And of course, depending on how big the suburb is, you can also probably guess that the bigger it is, the more diverse you'll you'll find in terms of the diversity you'll find in terms of food and cafes and whatever you're really looking for in terms of museums and art galleries and things like that. What would you say?

00:13:33:09 - 00:13:34:09
Greg Charles
Yeah, that's another thing.

00:13:34:14 - 00:13:34:27
Mary Daphne
Where.

00:13:35:05 - 00:13:39:01
Greg Charles
You get them in both places. And again, it depends on the size of both.

00:13:39:01 - 00:13:39:18
Mary Daphne
It's true.

00:13:39:20 - 00:13:49:18
Greg Charles
Right. Typically in a city, the museums and the galleries you're going to see are going to be a bit larger. They're going to have, you know, probably more famous paintings in there.

00:13:49:18 - 00:13:50:29
Mary Daphne
And there'll be more of them and.

00:13:50:29 - 00:13:51:12
Greg Charles
They'll be more.

00:13:51:12 - 00:13:57:14
Mary Daphne
Of them. And it could be hit or miss, right? There might be so many, but they might not all be great.

00:13:57:26 - 00:14:19:22
Greg Charles
Mm hmm. And so because of that, you do have more selection. Yeah. They can also be busier, right? Particularly in a place like New York City. A lot of those museums are world famous. And so everyone from around the world comes to check them out, which is great. But you know, if you just want to have a nice casual walk through a museum, it might not be so casual.

00:14:19:28 - 00:14:37:07
Greg Charles
You might have to be fighting your way just to see a painting. Right. Whereas in a suburb, you do also have museums and art galleries, but they tend to be much smaller and tend to not be crowded. Yeah. And because of that, you can have a much more intimate experience with the art, which I appreciate as well.

00:14:37:13 - 00:14:55:23
Mary Daphne
Definitely. And it just it depends like if you're looking for a more laid back vibe, then you know, suburbs might be the play. If you're looking for more of the hustle and bustle, then the city might be more of, you know, your vibe. But I think it's nice to experience both, to be honest.

00:14:56:03 - 00:15:16:15
Greg Charles
I do, too. Yeah. The way I think about it is when I, you know, just got out of college and I'm trying to meet as many new people as I can. And I'm trying to create as many job opportunities as I can. Yeah. A city is a great place to be, right? And you don't mind living in a tight little apartment, maybe sharing with some friends.

00:15:16:15 - 00:15:42:13
Greg Charles
Yeah. Because your focus is on sort of building your career and building your network, making friends. So the sort of the material circumstances don't matter as much. And then as you get older and like you said, you want to start growing a family and you want to sort of spread out a little bit, you already have network. When those things start to matter less, the suburbs, suburbs become a really attractive option.

00:15:42:26 - 00:16:04:12
Greg Charles
Just because you can still get to the city from the suburbs when you want that hub, you know, that hubbub and that energy. But at the same time, you have the option to you know, really just sort of expand your living situation at a cheaper price, start to save up and enjoy all the peace and comforts that come with the suburbs.

00:16:04:17 - 00:16:31:18
Mary Daphne
That's right. So generally speaking, a lot of times right out of college, new grads will flock to cities for the job opportunities to figure out what they want to do with their life, to gain lots of experience, career wise and professionally speaking, and also personally speaking. And the reality is, is when you're living in cities, you don't necessarily spend that much time at home.

00:16:31:28 - 00:16:59:12
Mary Daphne
Because it's just not as comfortable to write. So when you're meeting friends, you're going to do that outside. You're going to meet in cafes, generally speaking, of course. And this is not just, you know, true of New York City, for example, or like any city in the US. But when I've lived abroad in cities, it's been the same sort of, you know, thing where you meet friends outside.

00:16:59:12 - 00:17:24:27
Mary Daphne
And that is great because then you don't have to worry about just being crammed in a small apartment, for example. But when you are in a suburban setting, people do meet outside. They'll meet, you know, at points of life in the city or a city close to it or some park or garden or something like that, or a museum like a meet up point.

00:17:25:07 - 00:17:42:05
Mary Daphne
But also people tend to go to each other's houses for things like dinner parties or weekends or pool parties or barbecue or things like that, where there's more of an excuse to go to people's houses. One, because there's space and two, because it's comfortable. Right.

00:17:42:19 - 00:17:44:17
Greg Charles
Yeah. Yeah. That's a great contrast.

00:17:44:22 - 00:17:53:10
Mary Daphne
Yeah. So I would say that for social life, you can have a healthy social life in both types of contexts.

00:17:53:18 - 00:18:03:18
Greg Charles
Absolutely. Yeah. You can have a vibrant social life in either. Or if you'd like to be a hermit, you could do that. Neither as well. So in both contexts, you have options.

00:18:03:23 - 00:18:12:18
Mary Daphne
That's right. So would you say that the suburban experience is very much an American invention? Greg, I don't.

00:18:12:18 - 00:18:32:21
Greg Charles
Know if it's an American invention, and I don't think the suburbs ever came about deliberately. It's more of like a phenomenon, right? But definitely America does seem to have, in my experience, the most built up suburbs. Right. Often in Europe, you'll have towns, and those tend to be very separate from the cities that they that they neighbor. Yeah.

00:18:32:21 - 00:19:00:07
Greg Charles
Whereas the U.S. tends to have more of that blend. And you can't really determine when you've left the city and entered a new city or a new town. Right. So, yes, I would say the U.S. has probably the most robust and developed suburb infrastructure but you do start to see similar patterns emerging throughout the world. So I'm excited to see how different countries start to develop their own suburbs over time.

00:19:00:09 - 00:19:24:18
Mary Daphne
Right. And that's a good point because, I mean, we've traveled quite a bit around the world and we've seen cities, we've seen suburbs And it's funny because in in some countries you'll go into what the suburb scene is like. But it would be it might not be very easy to get to. There might not be the built up infrastructure that you mentioned.

00:19:24:27 - 00:19:32:26
Mary Daphne
So do you call that a suburb or do you call that just being in nature? Like, I'm still sort of grappling with that notion.

00:19:32:26 - 00:19:54:18
Greg Charles
You know, in a lot of places, once you leave the city, it's villages, right? You get to other villages. Right. And what I would say is it really comes down to the nature of the job opportunities. Right. In the US, it's a very service oriented economy. And that can be you know, you can you can work and earn a good income without being in a city.

00:19:54:18 - 00:20:28:14
Greg Charles
Right. They have these corporate complexes that you can go to in the suburbs or people are working from home. Right. So there's more infrastructure for earning a good salary outside of city, whereas in a lot of sort of more emerging environments, emerging economies, the the best job opportunities are almost exclusively in the cities. So there's no interest rate or need to be in the suburbs simply because the, you know, all the job opportunities, all the opportunities to make money are located in the city itself.

00:20:28:17 - 00:21:03:00
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And with the gig economy and with remote jobs, there also is sort of the there's a paradigm shift where people don't necessarily have to be tied to a city to find good jobs, well-paying jobs, because they can do something online. They can have an online community that they interact with. So then some people might say, well, what's the point of being in a city if your job is completely online and your social network is mostly online?

00:21:03:18 - 00:21:04:18
Mary Daphne
What would you say to that?

00:21:04:29 - 00:21:26:09
Greg Charles
Yeah, I mean, people have been calling for the end of cities for four years now because of what you're saying. You know, the increasing technology that allows us to work remotely from wherever. The fact is, at the end of the day, we're very social creatures. Yes. And so the we're always going to be interested in congregating in one spot.

00:21:26:25 - 00:21:42:12
Greg Charles
There's always going to be this sort of motivation to be together in a city right and cities are actually very efficient in many ways, particularly from a carbon footprint imprint, a carbon imprint. Write your footprint. You're carbon footprint.

00:21:42:19 - 00:21:43:09
Mary Daphne
That's what it's called.

00:21:43:10 - 00:22:03:14
Greg Charles
Right. Basically, if you think about the amount of impact you have on the environment, it's much more efficient in a city because there's a lot more shared services. Right. Not there's not single houses with their own air conditioning units. Instead, it's one big apartment building that all shares one air conditioning unit and one water boiler. Most people don't have cars yet.

00:22:03:15 - 00:22:03:25
Greg Charles
Right.

00:22:03:25 - 00:22:06:22
Mary Daphne
So you can walk everywhere if you choose.

00:22:07:00 - 00:22:18:18
Greg Charles
So there are environmental reasons to have cities. There's social reasons to have cities. My guess is that we're always going to see vibrant cities, maybe fewer than we had in the past.

00:22:18:22 - 00:22:19:12
Mary Daphne
But they'll be good.

00:22:19:13 - 00:22:20:21
Greg Charles
Maybe even solid Asian.

00:22:20:21 - 00:22:22:03
Mary Daphne
Yeah, but they'll be even nicer.

00:22:22:03 - 00:22:23:07
Greg Charles
Maybe Maybe.

00:22:23:12 - 00:22:24:05
Mary Daphne
They're fewer.

00:22:24:11 - 00:22:27:13
Greg Charles
But certainly certainly they're not going to go away. Yeah.

00:22:28:08 - 00:22:56:01
Mary Daphne
Nor should they. I mean, I love cities. I also love suburbs. I think it's nice to have a mix and not necessarily, you know, do 11 week and one the other that would logistically not really make sense unless you have multiple homes. But the idea of spending, you know, part of your life in one place or one type of place, like a city and then another part of your life more in a suburban area and then going back to a city and so forth.

00:22:56:01 - 00:23:04:11
Mary Daphne
That could be nice because we, you know, depending on what stage of life you're in, either of those can be really great options, cities or suburbs.

00:23:04:14 - 00:23:05:01
Greg Charles
Absolutely.

00:23:05:27 - 00:23:28:00
Mary Daphne
All right. Well, this is a nice little discussion. If there is anything else that comes to mind with living in the city, living in the suburbs that you want to share with us, feel free to leave a comment. And what about you? What's your preference? Do you prefer to be in it's more of a city type setting or more of a suburban scene or setting.

00:23:28:00 - 00:23:47:00
Mary Daphne
So share that with us as well. And don't forget to subscribe to the channel and follow the podcast, subscribe to the podcast and share it with friends, because that really makes a big difference for us and it helps us continue to do what we love to do. All right. Well, I think we've covered most of it. It's not all of it.

00:23:47:00 - 00:23:52:10
Mary Daphne
So we're going to see you in the next lesson and next conversation. Bye everyone.