Two articles this week have proven that what we need in this country is not a fight of urban vs suburban and ultimately which is better. The NY Times article profiled this couple who had to move from the city to the suburbs to get what they wanted at the price point they could afford.
Ultimately, deciding which lifestyle best suits you — and where to buy — comes down to personal preferences. But if the deciding factor is the relative cost of each, the answer is quantifiable, even if it not immediately obvious given the different tax rates and other variables.
So we set out to do the math, based on an apartment and a house in the New York metropolitan area. Here’s what we found: a suburban lifestyle costs about 18 percent more than living in the city. Even a house in the suburbs with a price tag substantially lower than an urban apartment will, on a monthly basis, often cost more to keep running. And then there’s the higher cost of commuting from the suburbs, or the expense of buying a car (or two) and paying the insurance.
The NY Times math is very fuzzy and doesn't really prove much at all. Urban living can be quit costly, but so can the suburbs. The choices you make in regards to both is what really dictates costs. With the unaffordability of homes in NYC these folks decided to go to the suburbs. A clear lack of housing choice that is affordable for all.
In this post Joe Kotkin blasts Richard Florida for pushing a "back to the city" theme when that is not what is really happening. He blames the over abundance of downtown condos as one reason people aren't excited about the city. He clearly believes that the Amercian Dream is a singly family home. Kotkin states:
But the great migration back to the city hasn't occurred. Over the past decade the percentage of Americans living in suburbs and single-family homes has increased. Meanwhile, demographer Wendell Cox's analysis of census figures show that a much-celebrated rise in the percentage of multifamily housing peaked at 40% of all new housing permits in 2008, and it has since fallen to below 20% of the total, slightly lower than in 2000.
The problem again is that we deem suburbs single family homes on large lots and cities are high rise condo buildings. This simply is not the truth when it comes to many urban and suburban neighborhoods. Actually many places have a decent amount of mixed housing (single family, duplex, apartments, condos, ect.) so I am not sure why we have drawn this line in the sand.
What we need to discuss is how to provide housing opportunity for all people regardless of where they want to live. Not everyone in the suburbs wants a single family home and not all city dwellers want to live with 40 other units. Housing choice needs to be a key factor and the cost of that housing. I find all these arguments wrong because there are suburbs, long island for example, that are denser than some of our biggest cities. What we need to do is find a way to integrate these different housing typologies so that we can accommodate all our current and future residents.