I'm a 'zillennial' who left the city. I don't like living in the suburbs as a young person, but I plan to stay.

Posted

Kelsey Lam said the suburbs feel secluded and less social than the city.Courtesy of Kelsey Lam.Kelsey Lam is a zillennial who left Philadelphia to live in the suburbs in 2021.She feels the suburbs don't cater to her age group as much as cities do.However, she plans to stay for now, saying she'd prefer to raise a family in the suburbs.This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Kelsey Lam, a 27-year-old who left Philadelphia to live in the suburbs in 2021. The following has been edited for length and clarity.I'm 27 and identify as a zillennial. I've lived in the suburbs for three years and would say they don't really cater to my age group. My thoughts driving toward my new home in Malvern, Pennsylvania, were: "This is all road. There are no walking areas. It just looks so dead."I moved to Philadelphia in 2016 when I was 20 and lived there for about five years, after growing up in a suburban area about 40 minutes from the city. In 2021, I was offered a position as a program coordinator analyst at a healthcare company.The office was in a suburb on the outskirts of Philadelphia, so I moved to Malvern, which was about a 20-minute drive from it. I lived in Malvern for about a year, then moved to another suburb, Plymouth Meeting, and was there for another year. Then, in July 2023, I moved to King of Prussia, another suburban area, where I currently live.I feel that the suburbs aren't meant for people under 30. It feels secluded and not as social as the city. Cities are built for endless possibilities of self-discovery, whereas suburbs are for a predictable routine and lack the vibrant diversity found in the city.The suburbs are not walkable and there are fewer cuisines than in the cityIn the city, I walked or used public transportation or rideshare services like Lyft and Uber. It was very easy to do that. In the suburbs, everyone has a car and it's not walkable. In the city, there were lots of parks that were within walking distance, but in the suburbs, I have to drive to even get to the park.Lam walking around the city.Courtesy of Kelsey Lam.Walking out of my apartment in the city, I would see a school, another apartment building, a deli market, and a grocery store. I was in proximity to so many things and had resources within walking distance. Now, when I go outside, I just see a parking lot and trees.There are also fewer types of cuisine here. In the city, I could go to find a French bakery and get a really good pastry that tastes authentic.Even going for coffee in the suburbs and in the city are completely different experiences. If I go for coffee in the suburbs, the shops are very bland. There's usually no music playing, the walls are white, and you typically just order at the counter and leave. There are chairs and tables, but people don't use them as often.When I'd go into a city café, I'd see art on the wall. I could order a crazy flavor. I was even able to get baklava-favored coffee.Lam said she enjoyed the art and coffee flavors in shops in the city.Courtesy of Kelsey Lam.A lot of the cafés in the city are family-owned and they support local businesses. In the suburbs, I'm getting coffee from chains and the coffee just doesn't feel as unique.I once went into a little coffee shop in the city that sources local beans and grinds locally. So I could see a small business supporting another small business, and I liked to hear that. I don't want to make a millionaire richer.There aren't many younger people aroundI had just graduated from college when I left Philadelphia. I was initially told my job would be hybrid, so I made sure to find an apartment close to the office. This was after Covid and I was eager to work in person.But then I was told that it would be fully remote.I felt nervous because now I was working from home in a new place. I wasn't sure how to make friends or what to do in the area as a 20-something.I looked for Facebook groups to meet people my age, and I barely found any in my location.When I was looking for classes to learn new skills, like art, I realized there weren't a lot of options. A lot of the art classes around here are for young kids.There aren't many younger people around.Lam walking in the suburbs.Courtesy of Kelsey Lam.Even if I was working in person with colleagues, I would probably just go home after work and stay in my apartment, whereas in the city, there were more activities. I could take a Lyft or Uber to Chinatown and go out to get food.My apartment building in the city was made up of a lot of students and young professionals, but in the suburbs, a lot of people are older than me. In my building, I've seen a lot of families with kids, and if I do see people who don't have families, they're usually more established in their careers, like managers. Work seems to be their main focus as opposed to socializing.In 2019, I was living in a 550-square-foot studio apartment in the city for around $1,165 a month. Now, my one-bedroom, 699-square-foot apartment in King of Prussia costs $1,899 a month. That's a lot of money for one person, and I feel like you have to be pretty established and have a good career to afford the suburbs. Since a lot of people in the suburbs are families, I would assume they're double-income households, so they're able to afford more things.I don't like it in the suburbs, but I plan on staying for nowOne thing I like about the suburbs is that the grocery stores are bigger because there's more space. I spend less time shopping now because the stores are huge with more checkout lines.Overall though, I don't like it here.Lam said she plans on staying in the suburbs.Courtesy of Kelsey Lam.If I were single, I would live in a city, but I recently got engaged, and now it all depends on what my partner and I decide.I'm thinking about the next steps of my life, getting into my 30s. If I had a family here, I could drive and do all the things I need to do. But if I were in a city, it would be harder to have a car with fewer parking spots. I'd probably have to pay for a garage. In the suburbs, I could also be around other parents in the same situation as me, and I'd be able to focus on raising kids.I plan on staying in the suburbs for now and making the best out of it.Read the original article on Business Insider

Real Estate, Economy, city-vs-suburbs, city-life, suburbs, philadelphia, pennsylvania, zillennials, young-people, as-told-to, contributor-2024