I am at the age where many of my friends and peers are getting married, having babies, and buying homes. It is always very interesting to me to listen to and participate in the conversations about the factors that go into their home-buying/ root-planting process. If you know me personally, then you know that my fiance, Chuck is a downtown living advocate. It took him a year to talk me into downtown living, another year to see the enjoyable benefits, and in this last year, I have fully embraced the concept as a green-living and well-being initiative.
More and more research is showing the benefits of urban living as environmentally friendly. Smaller homes mean less reliability on electricity. Having a more centralized location means more walking and bike-riding than driving. Fixing up an older home also impacts the environment by less waste and the opportunity to upgrade to greener appliances, windows, and floor plans for the homes. This was step 1 in my change in thinking from suburban living.
Then there are the health and wellness benefits of living downtown. As mentioned, a downtown lifestyle will lead to more walking and bike riding as a source of transportation, thus increasing your daily physical activity. However, this is not the only perk. There is greater access to yoga, pilates, and fitness studios in downtown Raleigh than in any other demographic. Running clubs are also picking up like wildfire. In terms of food, shopping at smaller, local markets will mean fresher (local) ingredients: less pesticides, less hormones, less cancer.
Now, we’re getting a little bit closer to appealing to my lifestyle, but what about family. I want a family and that means migrating to the suburbs or North Raleigh, right? When I was a kid, we lived in the suburbs of Chicago. This meant that my mom would have a one hour commute to and from work everyday. She was often away from the home, 11+ hours/day. I know she hated that and I definitely don’t want that for my family. Downtown living also means a more centralized lifestyle. Live. Work. Play. So for us, it will mean that we both work downtown, have our home downtown, and keep the kiddies near by. Shorter work days, opportunities for lunch hours, and (lucky for us) jobs with flexible schedules. Worried that you might not have a neighborhood feel? Downtown peeps create the best community. Not only do you get to know your neighbors, but you know your florist, chefs at favorite restaurants, owners of boutiques, and they all know you and support your business. What about the kiddies running through the neighborhoods? I still want a back yard but also prefer walks to the local museums, festivals, and parks.
For many people, downtown living may not be the way to go. However, I am a professional and an entrepreneur and I always will be. I am educated and have grown used to many of the preferences of my life. I know that what will make me happy, will also be what satisfies my family. By having kids a little bit later in life, I also have the luxury to plan out my lifestyle and prepare for it. By centralizing my life, I will increase the amount of time that I have with my family through lowered commute times and flexibility in my business. Maintaining my personal self-care will also greatly impact the quality of my relationships. And being in the middle of all that downtown has to offer means that I can teach my children cultural experiences. Most importantly, it will create an integration of me. I don’t have to choose between being a mom and being a business owner (and then feel guilty about whichever I choose). I get to be a wife with kids who owns a local business. And that will give me the balance that I need for my life.