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European Is Shocked To Learn How American Suburbs Work, Goes Online To Ask Some Accurate Questions
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People, Social Issues4 months ago

European Is Shocked To Learn How American Suburbs Work, Goes Online To Ask Some Accurate Questions

Ah, the great American suburbs. Nothing better than being confined to a neighborhood where all the houses look exactly the same, and the closest stores are 2 miles away. (And don’t forget that you have to drive to them because there are no sidewalks or bike lanes…) While I have never experienced living in a suburb myself, I’ve visited the cookie cutter communities many times. However, for many people outside of the United States, the concept of suburbs can be mind boggling.

Last week, a suburb discussion was sparked on Twitter after a Slovakian Reddit user watched a video about these confusing American neighborhoods then reached out to the Urban Planning subreddit to get some answers. Below, you can read the questions that were raised about US suburbs, as well as some responses to the queries from other Twitter users. Then we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below: have you ever lived in an American suburb or are they a bizarre foreign concept to you too?

This urban planner sparked an interesting discussion on Twitter after finding the following questions about American suburbs posed by a confused Slovakian on Reddit

Image credits: LUrbaniste

Image credits: LUrbaniste

Image credits: LUrbaniste

Image credits: LUrbaniste

Image credits: LUrbaniste

While versions of suburbs do exist in many countries, the United States is unique in the layout of its suburbs and how much of the nation resides in them. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2018, 55% of Americans lived in the suburbs. They’re not all the same across the country, though. Politically, the suburbs are evenly divided overall, with certain areas leaning more Democratic or Republican. In New England, for example, 57% of suburbanites tend to vote left. Meanwhile, in the East South Central region (including Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee) 56% of voters identify as Republicans. The suburbs are also growing, particularly with older Americans. The 65-and-older population in the suburbs has increased 39% since 2000.

Though they may be famous for their perfectly manicured lawns, the suburbs are not all white picket fences and smiles. In 2016, suburban communities were found to have the highest “drug overdose fatality rate of any community type” in the US. And about one third of all suburbanites report that drug addiction is a major issue in their communities. One reason for the prevalence of addiction in suburbs may be the isolation people often feel being surrounded by almost nothing but other homes. Being bored is another factor that can lead to people experimenting with drugs, especially youths. Dr. Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, told Modern Healthcare that although people living in suburbs often have better resources available to treat addiction, with most people in these communities being “more educated, [having] better jobs and [living] closer to more healthcare professionals than rural people”, the stigma around addiction can still be powerful. “If they believe that addiction ‘can’t happen here’, they will neglect to screen their patients for substance use as they should and respond appropriately to addiction when they detect it.”  

American suburbs are a strange and fascinating concept. While they’re not a monolith, many of them do seem like inefficient uses of space and resources. Perhaps, over time, urban planners can learn a thing or two from countries like Slovakia and shift communities away from being so car dependent and focus more on quality of life. Let us know in the comments what your neighborhood is like in your country and if you think you could ever live in an American suburb!

Many Twitter users have responded agreeing with the absurdity of these suburbs and comparing the US to other countries

Image credits: postingtwink

Image credits: LRoordaLaw

Image credits: TapirDNB

Image credits: Kyberian

Image credits: hughjanos13

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Audrey N.
Community Member
4 months ago

HOAs are Karen breeding grounds. I'd never live in an area with one if there was any other choice.

Snowfoxrox
Community Member
4 months ago

First rule of house hunting to our realtor was do NOT show us ANY homes with an HOA!

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AverageWeeb 🇬🇧
Community Member
4 months ago

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of “things to pretend are bad in America”. They’re just houses, calm down.

Yves Soucy
Community Member
4 months ago

Agreed. They're just houses and I live in one and everything I need is right around the corner. Not a problem.

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Tamra Stiffler
Community Member
4 months ago

I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania in the US. I have a rather large yard that's broken up by many large trees, some bearing fruit, a small koi pond, herb gardens, and four large vegetable plots. We walk to the post office and bank, and store sometimes. This doesn't address typical suburbs, though, which I personally don't care for. The US is really a huge country, which does explain the sprawl, somewhat. There are a lot of factors at play which brought about the suburbs.

Angela Tuel
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

I live in a Suburb just outside Boston... We have stores and schools etc where you can walk or use other transportation. My property is half surrounded by forest and we have a stream... It's also Conservation Land. Meaning we can only change so much, in order to protect the environment. However I can walk the length of my street (probably 1 mile) and get to the grocery store, banks, CVS, Dunkin's etc. The town I grew up is a DRY town, no liquor stores... The town I live in now (30 min from my childhood house) has one of the biggest Malls in our State. Everywhere is different. I def agree with Tamra!

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Audrey N.
Community Member
4 months ago

HOAs are Karen breeding grounds. I'd never live in an area with one if there was any other choice.

Snowfoxrox
Community Member
4 months ago

First rule of house hunting to our realtor was do NOT show us ANY homes with an HOA!

Load More Replies...
AverageWeeb 🇬🇧
Community Member
4 months ago

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of “things to pretend are bad in America”. They’re just houses, calm down.

Yves Soucy
Community Member
4 months ago

Agreed. They're just houses and I live in one and everything I need is right around the corner. Not a problem.

Load More Replies...
Tamra Stiffler
Community Member
4 months ago

I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania in the US. I have a rather large yard that's broken up by many large trees, some bearing fruit, a small koi pond, herb gardens, and four large vegetable plots. We walk to the post office and bank, and store sometimes. This doesn't address typical suburbs, though, which I personally don't care for. The US is really a huge country, which does explain the sprawl, somewhat. There are a lot of factors at play which brought about the suburbs.

Angela Tuel
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

I live in a Suburb just outside Boston... We have stores and schools etc where you can walk or use other transportation. My property is half surrounded by forest and we have a stream... It's also Conservation Land. Meaning we can only change so much, in order to protect the environment. However I can walk the length of my street (probably 1 mile) and get to the grocery store, banks, CVS, Dunkin's etc. The town I grew up is a DRY town, no liquor stores... The town I live in now (30 min from my childhood house) has one of the biggest Malls in our State. Everywhere is different. I def agree with Tamra!

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