Yeah, I know- It’s an oxymoron. There is very little that is efficient about living in a suburban environment. In fact, it is pretty much the poster child of excess and competing with the Joneses. However, its also important to remember that every housing situation has its set of trade-offs. For some cities, living just outside the urban center can provide a set of trade-offs “worth it” for many families. In addition, there are many different lifestyle choices you can make to create an efficient (as possible) lifestyle somewhere between the city center and an isolated hut in the woods.
If you’ve followed MMM (or the FI community in general) wiring for any length of time, you will understand the general resentment for the excess of suburban life. And it is well deserved. The generalities associated with the car-centric, overbuilt mcmansion lifestyle are easy to see in the western suburban world. The waste, transportation, isolation, and expense are also easily observed. The lifestyle cost can be subtlety expensive for the inefficient. However, for those that make the choice (myself included) it is worth the mental exercise to think though making any lifestyle as efficient as possible.
Not All Burbs Are Created Equal
A few years ago Ms. SE did a rotation at a hospital in downtown Atlanta. We have a lot of family and friends in the area and actually spent four weeks there, each in a different location throughout the city. The final two weeks were spent in a suburban enclave about 15 miles north of the city center. The second day of our stay, there was a traffic jam that caused the 15 mile commute to take about an 1.75 hours to get home. I realized that, for me personally, it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for me to be content with a traffic-filled suburban commute. There is not enough money to get me to do that. It was a wonderful learning experience. Continue reading An Efficient Life (In the Suburbs)