According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, the suburban dream has gone sour. In its 2005 Annual Report Card, the Foundation dispels the myth that suburban and rural living is better for your health, concluding that urbanites have healthier lifestyles because they spend less time in their cars and, as a result, are more physically active.
IN YOUR FACE, all you suburbanites who think I'm crazy for choosing to live in the heart of this concrete jungle!
In fact, I would go one step further and say that urban living isn't just good for your physical health, it's good for your mental health too. And that brings me to the first of what I'm sure will be many installments of (cue fanfare)...
- I arrive home from work at 5:15 pm. From my bedroom, I can see the Gardner Expressway jammed up like a parking lot. That always gives me a good laugh as I change out of my suit and into my jeans.
- The park across the street from my condo is at least 50 times bigger than a suburban back-yard. And it's full of people.
- My condo is small so no matter how messy I let it get, it still takes only an hour to clean.
- I know the local variety store owner. He lives in the neighbourhood. Sometimes he gives my husband and me yummy Korean cookies for free.
- Beauty is everywhere - a piece of graffiti expressing someone's undying love, a cool sticker for some kid's punk band, bunches of tulips in front of the local fruit stand. It would all be a blur from a car window.
- I am free. My movement is unrestricted. If the light turns red, I cut through a back alley. Parks and parking lots are my shortcuts. I am not restricted to roads and there is no congestion - I get places as fast as my feet carry me.
- I never have to be the designated driver. There are no laws against drinking and walking (or stumbling as the case may be).
- I am not afraid. There are people in the restaurants and bars. There are eyes on the street. And sharing my 'hood with homeless, prostitutes, squeegee kids and drunks makes me realize that they are not threats. They are people just like me and everyone else - only with a different set of circumstances. While surburban women must fight to take back the night, I walk around alone.
- Forget Around The World in 80 Days. I can go around the culinary world in about 8 blocks.
- Mom and Pop businesses flourish downtown. And because the 'hood is less branded than the average surburban strip mall, urbanites have a tendency to create clever nicknames for their favourite establishments. In Montreal, I frequented a variety of depanneurs, known respectively as Scary, Far Away and Bizarro. Here, I'm a regular at Satan's Chicken, La Ha and Ass Roti.
- Downtown is just plain stylin'. I've stopped buying fashion and decorating magazines because they can't show me anything I haven't already seen on Queen St.