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The city mouse and the country mouse in the snow

Posted by Rona Fischman January 6, 2009 03:43 PM

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When house-hunting, I point out things about homes that will affect my buyers in the winter: lots of steps, steep steps, hills, low and shaded doorways, sunken driveways. However, by the time that we are house-hunting, my clients have already made the biggest winter decision: city, suburban, or rural.

Boston and the other cities of Massachusetts are relatively small cities. Massachusetts suburban life varies from homes on 3000 square foot sized lots -- where neighbors can easily get to neighbors -- to towns where homes have acres to themselves -- with gates, walls and total privacy.

Where you live depends on what you can and will spend for your housing. Within a price range, you made some choices about whether you wanted to be a city mouse or a country mouse.

We are experiencing a wet winter. In the tones I hear from people making plans around the freezing rain due in tonight, I know this is going to be a long winter.

City life is hard in the winter. There is less room, more cars, and more people near us than there are for our suburban and rural fellows. There is too little room to pile the snow to clear the walks. Parking gets more impossible than usual. Walking is harder and more dangerous. More people are grouchy. In a city, there are more people to be grouchy around you.

Suburban life is hard in the winter. There are long driveways to clear and isolation until you can get your car out. Sometimes, you canít get home because the plows havenít been passed your street yet. The more spread out your town, the more isolated it will be during and after a storm. Walking outside is impossible until well after the storm has been cleared. If power stays on and your refrigerator is stocked and everyone is healthy, it is not a problem. But that is not always the case.

The primary difference between city and suburban (and rural) living in bad weather is whether you consider other people a help or a hindrance to your way of coping. City dwellers have a surfeit of people; suburbanites get more space and autonomy, but can be isolated.

Does your experience of winter storms shape your experience? Did you move after a stormy winter because you wanted a more or less densely packed location? When you chose to move to the city or to the suburbs, did you think about winter weather?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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