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Thread: Do any of you planners live in downtown areas? Lifestyle question

  1. #1
    Dec 2007
    Waterloo, ON

    Do any of you planners live in downtown areas? Lifestyle question

    I have always wanted to live in the downtown core of a big city after I finish school and start working. I like the diversity and culture of the big city. I also like the idea of being able to walk to work everyday; it's better than being stuck in traffic and having to swear at people all the time! However, I have heard that finding a planning job in a big city (eg. Toronto) is difficult and I get the vibe that most planning jobs are in suburban and rural areas. I know that I shouldn't choose a career based on its lifestyle (the job itself is what makes me want to be a planner), but I lived my entire life in the suburbs and I HATE IT.

    So I want to know where all of you live.. urban? suburban? rural?

  2. #2
    Jun 2006
    Island-State Republic of Singapore
    When I worked in Melbourne, Oz, I lived near on the fringe of the city centre, around 15-20 minutes walk to work. Well I'd call it within the city centre. :P

    Absolutely loved staying where I did - close to the shops, cinemas, noise and everything. Think the suburbs would have been too quiet for me. Only things that bugged me were the unpredictable weather of Melbourne (esp the cold drafts) and my shoes.

  3. #3
    Jan 2008
    Don't give up on living in the kind of place you want to live in. Not having to drive is the most phenominal feeling in the world, and it's only beaten when you can wrap yourself in the warm cosmopolitan blanket of an amazing city.

    Maybe you can check out roles with titles not traditionally associated with planning. In larger cities, I'm sure the roles of a planner in a smaller city are divided among more specialized personnel.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
    Nov 2005
    In the Peach State
    At points in my life I lived in downtown Boston and on Manhattan. It was fantastic living in those environments. Now, I happily live in a urban 1st ring county in a large metropolitan area.
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
    I have lived in central Boston my entire adult life, starting while I was in planning school. Go for it! I wouldn't move out for anything. There are disadvantages (housing costs for what you get), but the excitement is so great!

  6. #6
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    I live out in the sticks--not because I prefer it to downtown living, but because there were too many other factors that trumped my desire to live downtown. My preference would be a rowhouse/townhouse at the edge of a small city downtown (pop. 50,000 to 100,000). I would consider a condo depending on proximity to a park.

    I know a lot of other planners that do it though. I know seven in San Antonio and another handful in Austin that do it. There are others in each of those cities that I don't know personally, but live to downtown life as well.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  7. #7
    maudit anglais
    May 1997
    My wife and I live in downtown Ottawa in a 100 year old house we bought late last year. It's a nice quiet little neighbourhood, but a short 10-15 minute walk gets us to the Byward Market, Rideau Centre, Parliament, etc. We both work in the suburbs, but the 30 minute commute by transit isn't too bad.

    I used to live in Toronto and if I ever went back I'd buy a condo right downtown.

    You might not land a job right out of school that will give you the lifestyle you want, but you will get there eventually if you work hard enough.

  8. #8
    Jun 2005
    I work in a county of 60,000 with a city of 15,000. I live just outside the city limits but not in the newest far flung suburban neighborhoods where most of the other planners here work. The downtown area here is very nice (in parts) and is primarily single-family residences. The only apartments I know of are housing projects. There are a few condos supposedly going in over a downtown business but they're still in the works so we'll see what happens.

  9. #9
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Dec 2007
    Front Range, CO

    Lifestyle and locational choice

    I've lived in Seattle and in waaaaay rural outside of Seattle, and now I live just south of Denver, CO, in a town of about 45,000 people.

    You should choose where you live according to what you want, not according to where other planners live. I prefer to live outside of big cities because I'm a bike rider and I like roads with less traffic. I live close enough to walk to work and to the grocery store. If I want culture I have to drive to it. If I wanted to live proximate to culture and more social amenities I would.

    The reality is that planners live everywhere, as the population of planners is similar to the cross-section of the rest of society. There should be no requirement to live in a certain place.

    My advice is if you are a city person, live in the city. If you are an outdoors person, live outside of the city. Hopefully you can afford to live in the city or find ways to make it affordable.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    I grew up in the "outer" suburbs. I now live downtown. I wouldnt change a thing.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    I live in downtown Albuquerque. We are not a big city (city = 500,000, metro area = 800,000) but there are enough amenities that we can meet most of our needs within walking distance.

    We used to live about 20 minutes out and the move has been a huge change in our quality of life. Seriously, if I drive more than two or three times a week to go anywhere, its pretty unusual (to be fair, my wife drives probably three times a week to run errands to places farther afield, but even those are fairly short trips). We are even planning to go down to a single car.

    I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia in what most would consider a pretty desirable setting. It was an older suburban area (turn of the century) converted from farms beginning in the 1880s. We had good highway access to the city and a commuter rail line as well. While I loved taking the train, we did have to drive quite a bit to get to other people's houses, grocery shopping, etc. because there really was no town center to speak of (though I did walk to school all the way through high school, which is pretty nice).

    All in all, though, I agree with Chet - I wouldn't change my current arrangement for anything - even if I could afford a home in my home town. Its just too isolating for me. Personally, I like the bustle of the city and even living close to my neighbors, though eventually ending up in a small town sounds like a good retirement plan...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Veloise's avatar
    May 2004
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    Quote Originally posted by shoegazer View post
    ... I lived my entire life in the suburbs and I HATE IT. ...
    That would seem to be a guiding light sent from heaven!

    I grew up in 'burbs (neighborhoods, walk to school and stores), then we moved to an undeveloped outer ring. Drive drive drive.
    First college: moved to a small city (Ann Arbor) and it was great.
    Returned to outer ring, drive drive drive to community college.
    Transferred to another small city/college town (East Lansing) and it was great.

    Since then I've lived mostly in urban 'hoods that involved some sort of residential amenities. (A high-density condo building would be fun for its grown-up dorm aspects, but where would I plant my spring bulbs?)

    Presently I'm about a mile from DT in a major city, around which one can get without having to drive everywhere. (And I work in the burbs, off the bus line, where my cow-irkers drive across the street to have lunch at the fat food places.)

    Two options: get a job you love, and land a residence near it. Or live in a place you love, and snag a job near it. Keep in mind that life does not equal work, and the paid employment is a means to the end of making yourself happy.


  13. #13
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
    Mar 2006
    Machesney Park, IL
    I would have loved to live in the downtown of a big city, if I were younger and single. But, when I was younger and single I couldn't have afforded it.

    Owning a home in a suburban area and having fun in the downtown works out just fine for me.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
    Apr 2007
    Music City USA
    I live in a rural town, however my commute to work walking would only be 10 minutes. When I lived in a larger city. the only place I could afford involved a 45 minute rush hour commute.
    I do miss all the culture/choices being in a city provides, however this job is worth it.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Bertrand's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Red State
    I live in a mid-size city of 250,000+ and a slow to revitalize downtown. I live in a neighborhood on the edge of downtown and LOVE IT!

    I try to walk to work as much as I can. It takes me 15 min. to get just about everywhere in the city.
    I cannot imagine living anywhere else but in this neighborhood. Lots of gays, artists, students, empty nesters and liberals. My kind of folk.
    Satan in the Suburbs

  16. #16
    Dec 2007
    West Coast
    It all depends on what stage of life you are in. Two years ago I moved from an L.A. suburb to live in an outer rim suburb of Southern California. Reason was the quality schools, low crime, parks,open space, restaurants/shopping and type of house ($$) that I wanted for my young family (wife and 2 school age children).

    If I could go back to my younger days as a single professional, I certainly would want to have a "downtown" living experience..at least for awhile. If you have the chance now, do it before the responsibilities of "life" dictate otherwise.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
    Feb 2007
    The Castle Aaaargh


    I live in a city of 35K that has a definition of DT in the code for special tax benefits etc. I live 1/2 block from the southern edge of the defined area. It was 1 mile from my office whan I worked for the community. I am about 1/2 mile from my new job. I've always lived in a city as a Planner (exurb when I was in high school). I really wouldn't have it any other way. If I was in a larger community, my home would be a comparable (if not in relative distance, then in relative nature of the lifestyle) distance. The KID just turned 17. The KID's Mom and I were talking about options in a few years and started talking about DT Baltiomore and the condos being rehabbed near Eutaw or Greene towards Camden Yards or even the old parts of Phila.

    We can dream, ya know........

    DLK trying to find a future
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

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