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Thread: The worst places you have lived

  1. #26
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    North Philly... 'nuff said.
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  2. #27
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Just dredged up another one. One room apt. in Flint, MI, near the GM V8 engine plant.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  3. #28
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Austin. For a laundry list of reasons:

    1. No sense of community. It's one of those places that touts how great it is and claims being friendly when it really is all superficial and exterior. It is so hard to build a social support network in this town centered on something besides amateur music and cannabis. I work for a suburb 16 miles from downtown and I've come across way too many people in central Austin who have no idea where it is. This sort of lack of knowledge/shared sense of place I don't think can be found very many places. To top it off, they're snooty about it in a way you don't really see outside of New Yorkers never leaving Manhattan, Clevelanders never crossing the Cuyahoga, suburban Detroiters never setting foot anywhere between 8 Mile and downtown.

    2. There are two freeways to get downtown, I-35 and Loop 1 ("Mopac") and both bottleneck (shortly) after being intersected by US 290 and US 183. Traffic is a nightmare for so small (relatively) a metro area (~1.6 mil). It has taken me 3 hours to get across town (from TX-45 to Kyle) before.

    3. U of Texas students, as a whole, are dumb. Like don't-know-how-to-order-off-of-a-menu dumb. That being said, I've met a lot of nice, intelligent people who have gone to school there and who are current students. As a whole, the description applies. And, outside of the state history museum and mediocre art museums and symphony, there's no culture in Austin outside of UT, unless you're thinking of pot and/or amateur music. Once you're out of your youth, Austin doesn't have much to offer.

    4. Upward economic mobility is practically non-existent. You'll progress to a certain point and then hit a ceiling. Some friends have expressed comments akin to "Austin is where dreams go to die." It also traps you in town and makes it hard to get out. Very few employers seem to respect work experience received here unless you're state government employees, and even then... it's Texas.

    5. There is no good urbanism here. I realize this is not an Austin-specific problem. I just find it that much more aggravating when people adamantly claim non-NIMBY status then kill any good project in their neighborhoods.

    6. Incredibly pretentious. I'm talking rivaling the Bay Area, here. Combine the uptight liberal attitudes seen in San Francisco (nothing personal, Bay Area residents and natives) and combine it with the Texan arrogance.

    7. The primary culture here is a mixture of "Stuff White People Like" hipsters, hippies, and cowboys. It might sound intriguing, but really just amounts to activist hippies with western clothing and accents.

    There are good things about Austin, too. It's pretty well integrated, racially (I wish I could say the same socio-economically), the area around the city is one of the few truly pretty scenic regions of Texas, the weather is generally pleasant 10 months of the year and sunny all year, an active downtown, the cost of living is relatively low compared to the rest of the country (but not Texas, unfortunately), you're within 3 hours of 3 of the biggest cities in the US and two of the largest metro areas, so whatever your sports/music/culture interests, if there's nothing in Austin you're pretty close to just anything you might want. But still... if I wind up here for the rest of my life, I'll probably wind up pretty miserable. I just want everyone to know that Austin doesn't fall anywhere near all the hype surrounding it. It'd probably be a fair college town, where you live for 4-5 years for undergrad, but afterward leave for bigger and better things. But as an end destination unto itself, it's falls way below the bar they've set and paid for others to set for themselves.

  4. #29
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I can't say that I've lived in any truly bad places, but I do think Austin is overrated. I like the "weirdness" (it seems like an oddball like me can fit in, even though I do feel out of place sometimes), energy that comes from being one of the nation's leading destinations for the creative class, "live and let live" mindset, and flavor of Texas culture that isn't overbearing.

    However, like TexanOkie, I agree that Austin has TERRIBLE urbanism. The population of Austin was about 135,000 in 1950. Most of the city developed in the automotive era. Neighborhoods that are considered "urban" by Austin standards, like Hyde Park, seem to have the same density and feel of a 1920s-1950s inner ring suburb anywhere else. Small houses (800'2) in Hyde Park sell for $300K and up only because they're close to an intersection with a coffee house, a few restaurants, a hipster gelateria, and an indie grocery store; the extent of commercial development for the neighborhood.

    In Austin, areas like this are considered "urban living".

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...126.81,,0,2.43
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,66.89,,0,5.16
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=barton...08.69,,0,14.81

    In those "urban" areas, sidewalks are the rare exception on side streets, not the norm. I never lived in another city where sidewalks were so uncommon.

    The Drag, cross the street from UT (featured in an earlier thread), is about as urban as it gets in Austin outside of downtown.

    I think the lack of urbanity, and the high cost of the areas that pass for "urban", could be Austin's downfall. Nobody moves to Austin intending to live in a cul-de-sac in Cedar Park or Round Rock, 15 miles from the nearest live music venue or organic free-range fair-trade coffeehouse, but if you don't have the dough, that's going to be your Austin experience. You might as well live in suburban Dallas. Young creatives and professionals increasingly want to live in walkable urban environments, and if they can't do it in Austin, they'll go to someplace that has it.

    I do lead a bit of the "Stuff White People Like" lifestyle. Here, though, you get the feeling that people follow SWPL as a guide for living, not as a field guide for spotting middle to upper-middle class liberal educated professionals. The hipsters here make those in Williamsburg seem like amateurs; they're dominated by Dov Charney/American Apparel model types and Suicide Girl wannabes. Seriously, it seems like half of Austin has more ink than the Sunday Times. Hey, live and let live; I guess I'd take hipsters over guidos.

    There seems to be a strong "planning culture" in Austin -- people talk about the built environment quite a bit, and planning-related issues get extensive coverage in the weekly alternative newspaper. Still, the passion many Austinites have for good planning isn't reflected in the built environment.

    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I work for a suburb 16 miles from downtown and I've come across way too many people in central Austin who have no idea where it is. This sort of lack of knowledge/shared sense of place I don't think can be found very many places. To top it off, they're snooty about it in a way you don't really see outside of New Yorkers never leaving Manhattan, Clevelanders never crossing the Cuyahoga, suburban Detroiters never setting foot anywhere between 8 Mile and downtown.
    I shared the same thing with TO in a conversation this weekend. Not only is there the North Austin/South Austin rivalry, but there's the widespread belief that you're not a REAL Autinite if you live or regularly travel north of Anderson Lane, south of US 290, west of Mopac or east of I-35. It reminds me of the "I never step foot off of Manhattan, and I'm proud of it!" mindset portrayed on Sex and the City and practiced in reality by so many from New York City.

    At my high school reunion, I heard a lot of "You live in AUSTIN?" comments from classmates, as if I told them I lived in Paris or London. If only they knew. Again, I'm not saying that Austin is a terrible place. Just overrated.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #30
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    There seems to be a strong "planning culture" in Austin -- people talk about the built environment quite a bit, and planning-related issues get extensive coverage in the weekly alternative newspaper. Still, the passion many Austinites have for good planning isn't reflected in the built environment.
    Well said! and describes Albuquerque and maybe a lot of western cities as well. I find people here to be pretty darn well informed about planning related issues, but somehow this does not seem to have any notable impact on what actually gets built by developers. What's the deal with that?

    I lived in Austin last in 1994. I visited last in 2004. Wow! what a difference. And I did get the impression that every new housing development built since I left fit your description perfectly:

    You might as well live in suburban Dallas.
    Ouch! But so true. I found this surprising for exactly the reasons you describe. Austin established a lot of cache with a particular young, hip demographic willing and enthused about spending disposable income and communing with their fellow residents. And I'm not just talking about the college students (though they are a large part of it). Why, then, is there so much development that seems to appeal to a totally different demographic (not urbane, suburban, not socially oriented or desiring of common space/town centers/congregating)? I find it a little perplexing as I think you are correct - people desiring the lifestyle that Austin has gained a reputation for are now going to be attracted to a different center and will bypass Austin altogether.

    Another way of looking at it relates to TexanOkie's observations:
    Once you're out of your youth, Austin doesn't have much to offer.
    Its no surprise that college kids age. And its also no surprise that a lot grads stay in Austin afterwards (at least it used to be). In fact, my little cadre of friends are largely still there, but have families and own homes. So, could there have been a way for Austin to build out in a way that embraced the interests and needs of these aging folks (who were already sold on living there) to provide for their next stage of life? ie. Not isolationist suburban style developments?

    OT: my wife orders off a menu pretty well for a UT grad...

    And that does raise the issue of one thing Austin does (or at least used to do) very well - restaurants. There is a LOT of great food to eat in Austin! At least there used to be...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #31
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Hated it. Rednecks, racists, bigots, losers, meth heads, cold weather, icy roads, snow, and California transplants.
    Gee how could I top that one?

    Edit: My worst place? Where I live now. Richards Road in Toledo. I swear this street has the highest per capita number of assholes driving on it of any major thoroghfare in the City. I'm talking about ignorant pricks that drive without mufflers, blare rap music at 180 db, race motorcycles at 100MPH, squeal tires, or a combination of all these. God how I wish one of these ****ers would just smash into an oak tree doing 60 or so.

    I only live a mile from a rails-to-trails but dread going there for fear of being run over by some prick texting.
    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 27 Jul 2009 at 6:52 PM.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat View post
    I swear this street has the highest per capita number of assholes driving on it of any major thoroghfare in the City. I'm talking about ignorant pricks that drive without mufflers, blare rap music at 180 db, race motorcycles at 100MPH, squeal tires, or a combination of all these. God how I wish one of these ****ers would just smash into an oak tree doing 60 or so.
    I lived with my mom for almost 2 years going thru a divorce, she was in a very affluent gated community, and unfortunately lived near the gate. Every night, all night, people who lived there drove in with the rap and s*hit playing to shake the houses. Som epeople have an odd reliance on gated communities, thinking they're so safe. Her neighborhood had more registered sex offenders than mine. And the music from the cars. Sheesh. Good thing I didn't have a gun.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    I lived with my mom for almost 2 years going thru a divorce, she was in a very affluent gated community, and unfortunately lived near the gate. Every night, all night, people who lived there drove in with the rap and s*hit playing to shake the houses. Som epeople have an odd reliance on gated communities, thinking they're so safe. Her neighborhood had more registered sex offenders than mine. And the music from the cars. Sheesh. Good thing I didn't have a gun.
    A former co-worker, also from Florida, grew up in a very affluent gated community. Some place starting with Palm and ending with Beach. One night there was gunfire followed by a body flying over the wall and landing in their back yard. Seems that some drug dealers had a little internal problem that they resolved by offing one of their own and disposing of his body over the wall. Kind of like using a leaf blower to move your trash to your neighbors yard.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  9. #34
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    And that does raise the issue of one thing Austin does (or at least used to do) very well - restaurants. There is a LOT of great food to eat in Austin! At least there used to be...
    Austin has plenty of great restaurants ... east of Mopac, south of Anderson Lane, west of I-35 (and a bit to the east), and north of US 290. Outside of that area, it's dominated by chains, and mom-and-pop Mexican and barbecue. That's not to say there's nothing outside of what so many consider to be the REAL Austin, but the diversity seems to drop off dramatically past a certain boundary. The Peruvian-French fusion and organic free range fair trade restaurants gives way to Cheddar's, Chili's, Happy Lucky Jade China Panda Dragon Star, and La Chingadera #2 like that (snaps fingers).

    Back to the worst place I ever lived, though. Orlando. (Sorry ZG.) It wasn't horrible, but there was absolutely no sense of community, it seemed so much more transitory than anyplace else I've lived, it was hard to meet people, and it seemed to offer all of the disadvantages of Florida (humidity, no topography, dysfunctionality, placeless sprawl, rednecks) with none of the advantages (ocean, beaches, tropical feel, availability of international/Latin flavored culture). I lived in a part of town that was middle-class but where it seemed like everybody worked in construction, and I'd hear Nextel beeps more time in one day then I'd hear in three or four months anywhere else.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  10. #35
    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
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    In Austin, areas like this are considered "urban living".

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...126.81,,0,2.43
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,66.89,,0,5.16
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=barton...08.69,,0,14.81



    Hilarious! While I really do like the independent business culture in those areas and other parts of central Austin, the fact that those are considered major neighborhood commercial centers is really funny. Too bad very few locals (including transplants) are in on the joke!




    Hey, live and let live; I guess I'd take hipsters over guidos.


    Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a guido or two in Austin. Maybe they would bring some decent Italian food with them!

    As usual, great post, Dan

  11. #36
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    The hipster culture on the whole really aggravates me, I can totally relate to TO's sentiments about them. I can dig the whole "live-and-let-live" vibe and would much prefer hipsters as neighbors as opposed to say, a bunch of meathead guidos, but the pretentiousness at the "look at me and my tats attitude" wears thin with me. Basically, it's a bunch of twenty-somethings from upper and middle class upbringings all trying to appear as edgy and bohemian as possible, but with this totally cynical attitude about life in general (i.e. "work sucks, we're too cool for that so we just drink 40s on our stoop and chill all day").

  12. #37
    Cyburbian
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    Worst Place I've ever lived: One room apartment (actually, top floor of an old house) in downtown Lansing, Michigan. I was about 10 blocks from the capitol. Woman murdered and then dumped at house across the street, loud music, a residential neighborhood with a (gasp!) ONE WAY, two lane street, crack whores everywhere, prostitutes at the corner, the local gas stations and Quality Dairys had bullet proof glass. No air conditioning. Good thing I was young and stupid because I was not scared at all.

    It wasn't all terrible, though -- I was walking distance to work in Old Town (cool art/hipster/gay district) and Elderly Instruments (amazing music store), I could see the fireworks from the minor league ballpark almost every night in the summer, and there was a gigantic front porch that was fun to sit out on and read books.

  13. #38
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dave F View post
    Hilarious! While I really do like the independent business culture in those areas and other parts of central Austin, the fact that those are considered major neighborhood commercial centers is really funny.

    So true. Austin has more than its fair share of "funky", but it seems that Austinites genuinely believe that funky suburban is equivalent to urban.

    Hate to break the bad news, but ...

    Manor Road isn't urban.

    North Loop isn't urban.

    Hyde Park isn't urban.

    North Lamar isn't urban
    .

    North Lamar by 6th Street is barely urban. (6th Street west of downtown is getting there, but still ...)

    South Lamar isn't urban.

    Clarksville/West End isn't urban.

    Burnet Road isn't urban.

    West 35th St/Kerbey Lane isn't urban
    .

    South 1st St isn't urban.

    Barton Springs Road isn't urban.

    South Congress is barely urban.

    These are considered major commercial centers in what's considered the "real" Austin.

    What's urban in Austin? Downtown, the 6th Street entertainment district (really, part of downtown) and The Drag. Maybe The Triangle, if you include a heavily NU-influenced lifestyle center. That's it. Mueller is a NU development, but its retail component is what I call "kinder, gentler sprawl": solidly vehicle-oriented with decent architecture and site planning for such a project.

    Again, Austinites ... funky suburban ≠ urban. Indie record stores, coffeehouses, organic ethnic restaurants, consignment stores, mid-century home furnishing stores and tattoo parlors in aging shopping plazas and strip malls with hip or retro signage surrounded by tract houses with funky and ironic lawn art are still suburban in their form. Maybe Austin's built environment is the ultimate ironic hipster statement; drink some ironic PBR or Lone Star, get some ironic tats, and park your Scion XB in the driveway of your ironic ranch house in your ironic suburban neighborhood. Old hippies also like to have space for a productive garden.

    Also again, Austin's not a terrible place. It just isn't what people think it is.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  14. #39
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Moderator note:


    Austin discussion split to separate thread.

    SR



    Moderator note:
    (Dan) You beat me by just a few minutes in copying the Austin posts to a new thread.

    "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."

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  15. #40
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Worst place I have lived

    Hey we were stationed at Ft Eustis sorry Useless for damn near 12 years (waits for folks to faint) We liked it pretty well. Went back a couple of years ago to visit and the whole are I lived in is just..GONE

    But the worse place I have ever lived is easy

    ALABAMA

    The heart of backward old South with the worst of what it was (and still is there) racism, hate, bigotry, narrow minded hell hole of a place. There is a level of hell reserved for this state.

    The people were only friendly if you were related or you and your daddy had played ball for X or Y school.

    Education was looked down on and openly discouraged at every turn

    The environmental destruction was devastating and came with a use it up mind set very entrenched for the long haul.

    I better stop now or I would go on all day
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  16. #41
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    The worse place I ever lived was Jacksonville, NC. I think I recall reading that it has the highest guy:girl ratio in the lower 48... not exactly the most happening place for a single guy in his 20s! The town had an absolutely barren downtown which seemed to have emptied out when they rerouted or expanded US-17 and NC-24 and even today they continue to expand and build a new limited access bypass around the downtown. This is a shame because the downtown has a rive running through it and would be a great place for boaters to come up out of the intercoastal. And for an area with so many people (about 70,000 with the base population), forget about any form of urbanism. Another major con was that this town was truly out in the middle of nowhere. Any other city of a decent size (Greenville or Wilmington) was a minimum of an hour away. And because the military bases take up so much space and employ so many people, it again takes about an hour at least to get out of that type of element and find some diversity. If there was a statistic measuring the city with the highest number of tattoo parlors, pawn shops, and strip clubs per capita, Jacksonville, NC would win!

    I lived on the base (mainly because I refused to sit in morning traffic coming in the gate each day when I could just walk to work instead) and the very best part about the area, in my opinion, was the beaches. Going to the beach on base was usually pretty good if you could go during the week because it was never crowded and they always kept them nice and clean. Even outside of the bases, there were plenty of nice beaches in the area... but that hardly makes up for all the negatives.

    I never really thought of the city as dangerous (I last lived there in 2005) but I still check the newspaper out online daily and am absolutely astonished by the number of murders and violent crimes there. I think there have already been about 20 this year so far which seems amazing to me for a city of that size and no real metro area around it. So I guess there is another negative mark for the city of Jacksonville, NC.
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  17. #42
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    Fort Dodge, IA (a lot of social problems for a small city)

    New Orleans (Still love to visit, just not a good place to live unless you are from there)
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  18. #43
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    29 Palms, CA. 120+ degree Death Valley summer temperatures coupled with all the charms/amenities one would expect to find in a military outpost town.


    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  19. #44
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    The worse place I ever lived was Jacksonville, NC.
    Been to Jacksonville. It's really, really awful.

    I'm too lazy to find and link to it, but a while abck I started a thread asking why military towns, for the most part, were generally so awful. Any military town I've been in -- El Paso, Kileen, Jacksonville, Havelock, Alamogordo, and Clovis to name a few -- have been uniformly bad. Sign clutter an order of magnitude worse than the most visually polluted civilian towns, no urbanism, low-end commercial, and a generally run-down appearance seem the norm. However, the bases themselves are usually quite nice.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  20. #45
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    29 Palms, CA. 120+ degree Death Valley summer temperatures coupled with all the charms/amenities one would expect to find in a military outpost town.


    I spent some time out at 29 Palms visiting friends who were stationed there and always had a blast... of course, I was never there for longer than 10 days and always had a Jeep to go play with in the desert so that could have helped explained why my friends were so astonished that I was always willing to visit them there. But yeah, I don't think I would have actually living there.
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  21. #46
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gicarto View post
    Fort Dodge, IA (a lot of social problems for a small city)
    That and my ex-wife lives there
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  22. #47
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    North Philly... 'nuff said.
    For neighborhoods: that's at the top of my list too. Got mugged at gun point (to my head) my first month there. The area was filled with hustlers, beggars and thiefs who never let you rest. Not to mention the litter, abandoned cars and extreme racial tension. The poverty was often too much to bear. Summer in Philly is also absolutely miserable, with 90% humidity, smog and no ocean breeze. Believe it or not I do miss the "realness" of the place. There's something to be said for that.

    For housing: I lived in a small 1BR cottage with my ex-girlfriend for a short time after Philly. Her grandparents owned it and it was decorated/equipped as such. It was in the middle of nowhere and I was completely dependent on her family for everything. I had to borrow a car from her uncle. I felt indebted to her and as a result got absolutely no time to myself. It was terrible.

  23. #48
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Moved the thread to the Cities and Places forum because this is a more appropriate location than the FAC
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  24. #49
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    For housing: an apartment that I lived in between downtown and the university. The location was fantastic as the apt was close to the university, the waterfront, and the downtown area (which actually has two grocery stores!). But, the apt itself was out of date as the 80+ year old landlady was too cheap to spend a cent on anything. She would sit in the dark between dusk and bedtime everyday! And, the other good thing about this apt was it was cheap despite its location and neighbourhood. It helped me save up a trip to England and Scotland!

    For neighbourhood: I cannot think of a neighbourhood that I have lived in that was bad. I guess the worst would go to Gosport, ON, for its jumbled-up appearance of homes despite being almost surrounded by water as it was almost an island.

    For community: I'd have to say it's a tie between Brighton, ON, and Barry's Bay, ON because of its "small town" problems: everyone knows of everyone else's business. Anonymity wasn't an option.

    However, if I were to vote for the worst possible town that someone could ask me to live in, then it would be these ones:
    - Trenton, ON: welfare town, very high teen pregnancy, stinky pulp n paper smell, dying downtown and retail cores, etc.
    - Milton, ON: for its size (60,000+ ppl), it has a teeny weeny downtown area, consists of mostly subdivisions, no synchronized street lights on the main drags in the town, and a terrible street layout.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    291
    Page, Arizona. If you've ever wondered what a town would look like if it were designed and built by the Bureau of Reclamation, this is the place for you.

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