Urban Suburbia

For years the tagline of my last blog was “Trapped in Suburbia”. I honestly did feel trapped: in a bad relationship, a boring job, a small old house and a cluttered neighborhood. Even though I knew I felt trapped, looking back, I didn’t realize all the reasons why though. I was ignoring all the important details and one of the ways I made my self feel better was convincing myself I lived in a nicer place than I was. I called it suburbia but the truth is that I wasn’t in the suburbs at all.

As much as I didn’t want to be in the city, and as far as my zip code is concerned I’m technically not in the city, but I might as well be. For years I skimmed over the fact that we were only a few blocks away from Philadelphia. A few of minutes of walking would find me in Philly neighborhoods that were changing into worse and worse sections of a well-known poor city.

The high taxes and “great” public school system tried and successfully changed my opinion for about 5 years. The tree-lined streets and adequately maintained properties touted “no city here”. One of the illusions that lured me into buying my home here in this urban suburbia was the revitalization promised to happen in sections of my large town. All of the main streets were being revamped: the sidewalks redone with beautiful lamp posts, benches were being added, store facades being updated, and intersections restructured. It was going to be a beautiful neighborhood. A safe area to be envied by other neighborhoods.

I’ve been here for 10 years and nothing has changed for the better. Those grand plans have long been on a back burner and now likely never to happen. The once beautiful walking trail that was here is now lined with “temporary” plastic sewer lines from when the system failed years ago and backed into the creek. The once boasted about parks nearby are now littered with trash, drug paraphernalia and questionable characters. That once award-winning school system (that has one of the highest tax rates in my state) is now under scrutiny and in a hushed state of chaos. There are shootings and stabbings a stones throw from my home. There are robberies, break-ins and drug deals in this neighborhood that I once thought I could be proud of. A month can’t go by without a large incident getting lost in the media reminding me that I am NOT in suburbia. I’m nowhere near.

So, why not pack up and move?

Well, I am going to move. In a few years. The main reason for waiting is that the big kids have only a few years left in school. They aren’t over-achievers so the schools aren’t failing them specifically. Up-rooting them so close to the end would be too hard on this family. They’ve gone through a lot of life changing problems in the past 3 years (which I’ll talk about another time) and I know a big move wouldn’t be beneficial to their state of minds and create even larger problems with their already rebellious behavior.

I’m also hopeful that the real estate market will continue to recover a bit more here. My house is now finally worth what I purchased it for but I’ve put a lot into my home in 10 years. Trying to get even a little profit isn’t out of the question. There are still so many uninformed people out there regarding the state of my urban suburbia. People still wear blinders, people are still buying here. They still fall for the gimmick that this is a “great place to live.” Some honestly think this is still a great place, they don’t know enough. There are still a lot of new people moving in a paying decent prices. These don’t seem like bad people either and maybe they will change the neighborhood for the better. I just don’t want to wait around and hope they can. I just keep my fingers crossed things will remain hushed and the smoke screen will stay in place for 3 more years. Is that wrong of me?


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