Suburbs Are for Suckers | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Suburbs Are for Suckers 

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I live (and love) downtown and so should you. I would like to explain my choice to spend more on my location and neighborhood than suburbanites, and even make a case as to how I may be out-cheaping you in the end.

Let’s assume that you, too, can walk out your front door and within minutes walk into the doors of a children’s museum, a planetarium, a library, two malls, dozens of restaurants, a movie theater, free public transit, the grocery store, an NBA game, two live theaters, a symphony, the farmers market and your job.

We are only going to focus on the cost of my house. Consider our expenses:

Our mortgage. (It is probable that we spent double what you did per square foot.) HOA fee. Car maintenance. Gas. Twenty-five dollars a year for our garden and plants. Access to a second car (or truck) when needed—usually three to five times a year—is $5 per hour through UCarShare. And food and entertainment, health insurance, etc., is the same as you guys in the ’burbs. Now, consider your expenses: Mortgage. (Yes, I know, it is less than mine.) Two cars with all of the payments, maintenance, etc. HOA fee. (Most communities now have them.) Gas. More gas. Upkeep of the outside of your house: lawn/yard care, supplies, water, etc., all those surprises over the course of a year: new roof, siding needs to be replaced, broken window, new sod. …

The point is that many of your expenses don’t come to mind because they trickle out over the year. People often forget these expenses aren’t going away—as your home ages, they will only increase.

Here are a few data points I found through Google:

According to a 2006 consumer-expenditures report released in February 2008 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average vehicle costs $8,003 per year to own and operate. The breakdown of the figure comes to $3,421 for purchasing the vehicle, $2,227 in gasoline and motor-oil expenses, and $2,355 in other vehicle-related costs.

On to the yard: $156 per month to water a 100-square-foot lawn. It is worth noting that you might spend 40 hours a year mowing.

Now, add in the time you spend going from here or there. Chances are, it’s a lot, and if you’re in your car, that is time you are not reading, exercising or exploring through taking mass transit and walking.

You pay more for your lifestyle than we do. We feel that, as “urbanites,” we paid more for our house to pay far less for everything else, with the added bonus of being able to spend one to three hours more a day as a family while others sweat it out in traffic. We are you; we just spend our money differently.

We are able to live where we work, play and love. And that is worth a lot more than we paid for our house.

Mickelle Weber
Salt Lake City

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