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Comment: Both Sides of the Coin (Score 1) 659

by Canis Latrans (#17734858) Attached to: Does Sprawl Make Us Fat?
I've lived in places that are at both ends of the spectrum. During high school I lived in suburban Houston, in a 'master-planned community' (a.k.a bunch of big houses in a cow field, with a golf course and country club) about 30 miles from downtown Houston. I had a job downtown at one point and spent a couple hours a day commuting. Now I live in Vancouver which is mentioned in the article as a poster-child for compact urban development. Here I commute to work on my bicycle (about 40 minutes a day of riding), walk to get groceries (maybe another 10-20 minutes of excercise), and since I don't spent two hours a day in my car I often have time to do other activities. Certainly I have a much healthier lifestyle here than I could have in Houston.

The problem with Vancouver is affordability. You simply can't buy a place to live in Vancouver for less than $200,000 -- that's pretty much the entry-level price for a 1 bedroom 600 square foot condo here right now. If you compare it to what you can buy for the same price in a suburban Texas community, the difference is phenomenal. Other pedestrian friendly areas like Manhattan and San Francisco have similar affordability crises. So, is that the price of living a healthy lifestyle? That's the way I view it. It's a trade-off between dollars and square feet on the one side, health and free time on the other. I'm willing to pay vastly more to live in Vancouver because I enjoy the lifestyle here and I can afford it. But many of the people who would want to live in a dense area like this simply don't have the option because it's not affordable.

Slightly off topic, but I often wonder what will happen after we run out of oil and people no longer have the choice of driving such great distances to live way out in the burbs. Will everyone flock to centres like Vancouver and Manhattan that are set up better for car-free living? Will more sprawling cities like Atlanta and Houston somehow reinvent themselves to form tighter urban centres? Could they? Would huge metropolises die out and turn into a smaller number of mini-cities, as businesses start popping up in suburbs closer to peoples comes? Will people be healthier?

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