By Heather Sadusky
CHICAGO (CBS) — For many Millennials, suburbia is overrated. The picturesque neighborhood, cul-de-sacs, quaint mailboxes and lush front lawns do not depict reality. It’s a set we put ourselves into with the hopes of attaining the matching idyllic life. Suburbia makes us feel that we are part of the magic, the way we feel walking through Disney World. At least that’s what we’re molded to think. But will we actually follow in our parents’ footsteps and participate in the dream of the white picket fence?
These days my Millennial peers and I are shunning suburbia because we recognize that it’s unsustainable and inconvenient. Even the phrase “suburban sprawl” seems grotesque, representing the parking lots that are quickly replacing grassy meadows. In the ‘burbs, people have no choice but to drive to work, to school or to simply pick up eggs from the grocery store. Suburbia is filled with massive amounts of strip malls, roads and identical residences spread across a landscape we can’t quite see ourselves in. Of course suburbia is a great place to raise children, but that is not a concern for my peers and me at this time.
A city is much more efficient, building up rather than out and smartly utilizing space for many purposes. During my lunch break, I stop at the farmer’s market in the plaza outside my office. On weekends, I take public transit to sporting events and concerts. Everything I need is jumbled together and close by. To be fair, many suburbs have public transit, but the comfort of taking a personal vehicle trumps the social stigma of taking the bus.
Yet despite how much I enjoy the city, every so often I find myself dreaming of a backyard with a garden rather than a window with a view. I’ve tried living in various-sized communities: the dense urban habitat of Chicago, a semi-rural neighborhood in Rhode Island, and the quintessentially suburban South Florida. In each, I find that I’m a little bit lost. The city is undeniably overwhelming and can only be handled temporarily. But the rural lifestyle is far too isolated from the happenings of a connected world for me.
Instinctually, humans are drawn to nature. The most envious photos of your Facebook friends are those that depict vacations filled with the beautiful scenery of mountains, the sea or a river. Nature provides us with a sense of calm that cannot be replicated by any other source. That’s the appeal of suburbia. It gives us the little bit of nature we all inevitably crave, in addition to the ideal life we’re told we should have.
Is there a compromise or a happy medium for Millennials like myself? I want to walk to work, but I want a yard to relax in. I want neighbors, but I don’t want to be crowded by large development. I want to go to happy hour on Friday night, but wake up and hike a mountain on Saturday. The only advice I can offer, in true Millennial form, is to travel and figure it out. No commitment, just exploration. It’s what we do best.