[quote]My question is why am I such an outlier in America in how I think and what I want from my living situation. Suburbs, despite the backing of corporate America & the government, still appeal to more people than an urban lifestyle.
R16, I'd venture that U.S. suburbs offer affordability, safety or a sense of it, and a compromise of car-centric life that is comfortable for many Americans. Early depictions of the creep of Westward Expansion across what would become the U.S. usually show some version of a primitive small house in the middle of some large tract of land in the middle of wilderness -- but cleared wildness, if only to fell the trees and leave them where they fell until uses for firewood or fencing or an extension to the house. Some have made an almost genetic argument that this is the essence of American settlement patterns and by extension the American Dream: a house removed from civilization, surrounded by land, as far as feasible from neighbors. This is in some sense an American freedom of expansiveness, conquering distance and wildness, of individualism. Exurbs today often regulate land use by parcel size: a 5-acre plot, fairly impossible for one man to manage if he has the sort of job to pay for such an expanse, keeps out people who cannot afford it and means that you are (mostly) that American dream of not having to hear your neighbors' arguments, their screaming kids, their car doors slamming, the splash of their backyard pools.
You see the impulse here on DL where some Tasteful Friends thread will have a vast floor-through apartment on a.leqfybatreet of the Upper East Side. But it's not enough: posters start noting that "for that much money I want a limestone fronted townhouse..but a freestanding one, with no neighbors too close". In fucking Manhattan??
Americans are trigger quick to make that jump to rationalize the inconveniences and shortcomings of suburbs for the space, the separation from others, the distance to Dicks sporting goods to buy socks for the boys and then pick up lunch at Panda Express.
Americans except in a very few large cities haven't known the convenience of living in a proper mixed use city center where all things you need and want are within blocks away not miles, where you run into the grocery shop and bakery for five minutes and grab the fresh parsley and goat cheese and bread you need to fill out dinner, or to buy some wine for friends coming over, or to walk your dog two blocks to the neighborhood vet and have a coffee with neighbors you run into on the way back, or to have not driven a car for nine months -- or ever. Morever if they know some Lite version if this it's often in post-college, early career, dating days...things to be out aside as they get serious about life later. The house with more floors than they could afford rooms in a city apartment calls, the garage to park the expensive car, the good school districts...
The idea of living in some sort of luxury of convenience and choice never really took hold with Americans outside those very few huge U.S. cities, and Americans may know that their suburbs are uncool and dreary, but they find the cheap gloss of moving up and out to a 21st Century vestige of Westward Expansion an irresistible pull.