Suburban vs. Urban

Since I now have the time to watch tv, I have gotten into watching the Home and Garden channel, mostly for the real estate shows. One show that was on last night was ‘Suburban vs. Urban’ a Canadian real estate show that has two real estate agents show people paired homes, one in the ‘burbs and the other in a more urban area.  The two episodes on last night were based in Ottawa.  First episode was Orleans (my ‘hood) vs ‘The Golden Triangle’ (basically downtown near Rideau Centre, Byward Market, Parliament buildings, etc). Second Episode was Stittsville vs. Westboro (hip urban area that has larger homes and is home to trendy restaurants, MEC, Milkface, and a variety of other shops).  They also compare what the people are interested in: location of stores/entertainment, natural areas, recreation that sort of thing.

P and I are anticipating that we will be moving in about 3 years, sooner if I manage to get a full-time job one of these days. We like the size of our townhouse, but hate that it is a townhouse (condo fees, neighbours and lack of parking/space around the house). Out of all the suburbs of Ottawa, we like Orleans the best. However P commutes all the way across the city to Kanata each day which means that he takes a beater car rather than the jeep and because we don’t have space for another car (nor can we really afford it..mostly because of insurance), I lose out on having a car more suitable than my needs (P refuses to give up the jeep). It also doesn’t help that we both hate Kanata with a passion (sorry Kanata friends).  So we are kind of at a loss on what to do. I do really like Westboro, which is kind of ideal since it is pretty much at the middle point in Ottawa, I do tons of shopping there and it is a mix of urban and suburban. P doesn’t like that it doesn’t have lots of green space, and the cost of homes there is a bit much. But we will see.

The show got me thinking about my own opinions on suburban living vs. urban living. Here is a pro/con list that I wrote about living in the ‘burbs since I’ve lived in one my whole life.


– More bang for your buck. I don’t get how people can spend $400,000 on a small condo plus condo feeds when you can get a pretty decent sized house for that in the ‘burbs

– Backyard space…sometimes.  I have a shit backyard with no privacy (hence why we erected the privacy gazebo two years back).  Newer developments also suck in terms of backyards with some not even building fences. Older ‘burbs tend to have larger lots with beautiful backyards with trees

– Parking and garages. Generally in a suburban home you have room for more than one car, sometimes more than 2. A garage is key for P and is a major deal breaker.  He works on our cars, and we both use the garage for home renos.

– Recreation areas.  Kind of not so true in Ottawa thanks to the Rideau Canal, but generally suburban places have great recreational areas. One big plus to my current home is the proximity to a fantastic path which I run/bike on almost daily.


– Neighbours.  Dear lord, I don’t even want to get started on this one, but holy baloney they are annoying sometimes.

– You need a car.  One of the reasons Max and I are stranded right now is because it is impossible to get the stroller out without getting stuck in the snow (and the Chariot isn’t ready yet). Also, where would we walk to? Everything is kind of far.  The grocery store is not too far, but now with Max in tow, I can’t exactly bring home the groceries and Max at the same time. Mall is also close, but because of the snow, I can’t take the much needed short cut. Outside of that, basically in the ‘burbs you need a car to go anywhere, and I really really hate that.

– Taking care of a home. Big space = more work for you

– Boring Boring Boring. BORING.

– Restaurants are mostly all chain restaurants.  In Orleans, there are no good dessert/cafes. So whenever P and I wanted coffee and a dessert, we have to go downtown. We also hate chain restaurants and struggle to find a place to eat here in Orleans that we like other than ‘The Works’ ‘Boston Pizza’ and ‘St Hubert’s’.


What am I (we) looking for in our new home?

– Wood burning fireplace (have one now and love it)

– Bigger garage (P would like one the size of a small house…)

– At least 3 bedrooms. Preferably 3 bedrooms plus an office

– At least two toilets. Note: toilets, not necessarily shower/bathrooms.  I don’t get how people complain about only having one big bathroom with a powder room (aka other toilet spot), and I really don’t get the big deal about ensuites. I don’t even use the ensuite now and stick to the bigger main bathroom. P has a different opinion and likes his ensuite, I just don’t care. This is probably because I shared one bathroom (and toilet) with 3 other people until I moved to college. Then at uni, I shared 3 showers with 25+ other girls. Then in my boarding room house, 4 people to one bathroom.  So, for me I don’t care. But having two toilets is required.

– Big kitchen. I need my space here. I would really like a window in my next kitchen. I would love an island as well.

– Close proximity to public transit. I would like to stay within walking distance of an OCtranspo station. It is a huge plus for me now, as on a good day I can get downtown in 15-20 minutes. During rush hour it is faster to take public transit than drive

– I would love to be within walking distance to a) a coffee shop that is not Tim ‘stupid’ Hortons and b) a pub. In Hamilton I was within walking distance of a great lil’ pub and I miss it terribly.

– Not attached to neighbours. I am sick and tired and sharing walls with people who are annoying

– No stupid floor plans that makes it next to impossible to have a china cabinet and not allow the couch to face the TV. My house s.u.c.k.s because of this. There is so much wasted space on our ground floor because of a really weird layout.

That is all I can think of for now. More will come for sure!

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