Tuesday’s Top 10: Reasons to Leave Paradise

Currently I live on two acres of Paradise. Literally – my town is called Paradise, zip code 17562. My views are unobstructed by man-made objects: to the north, a horse pasture; to the east, a grove of trees; to the south, a forest-covered hill, to the west, grass and some more trees (and a long stone lane which is, technically, man-arranged, but the stones are 100% earth).

Sometimes I crave the close confines of a city. Here are a country-dweller’s top 10 reasons for living in the city (feel free to correct my naivete in the comments section below):

1 – Walking is underrated. Living in the city would mean I could walk just about anywhere that I needed to go.

2 – Cars are overrated. See #1.

3 – Cities are generally 2-3 degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside (yes, right now it is winter – this may not be a benefit in the summer months).

4 – The guy in the coffee shop who has no good reason to be there. Which is, of course, the best reason of all to be in a coffee shop.

5 – Usually people in the cities are the ones that survive all the big disasters and end-of-the-world type catastrophes. At least, that’s what happens in the movies.

6 – I like getting lost in crowds of people and the feeling that I am connected to this mass of humanity.

7 – Manhole covers.

8 – Trees that spring up in the midst of sidewalks, growing out of four square feet of soil.

9 – Door buzzers, to which the person in the corresponding room says, “Yeah?” and you say, “It’s George,” and they respond, “C’mon up.”

10 – Using a broom handle to poke the ceiling, conveying the message to your neighbors upstairs that they need to keep it down.

So, city folks, what am I missing? We’re not going anywhere anytime soon, but you could try to change my mind…

43 Replies to “Tuesday’s Top 10: Reasons to Leave Paradise”

  1. …oh I could go on and on and on and on about the city country thing. (See the Rosemary Clooney song – Do you miss new york?)

  2. When I lived in the boonies, I missed bookstores. More specifically, independent bookstores. Believe me, you are not missing out on bigbox bookstores.

    Also, I missed not being able to get to a grocery store within 1/2 hour, especially in the winter.

  3. Oh boy – you don’t want to get me started on why you should move in the city!

    Here’s a few of my reasons though:

    – Forced community. Like it or not, you see your neighbors and you’re constantly presented with the option: love them or ignore them. Feed Jesus or feed your comfort.

    – Square One coffee. Those three words should be enough.

    – Jerusalem was/is a city. Both the old Jerusalem and the new coming Jerusalem. You don’t often hear God speak of the suburbs in the Bible. Well, I guess he does mention the Wilderness …. ;)

    – Culture making. Culture is produced in cities, not in the suburbs. If you want to be influential, you find where influence flows, and immerse yourself.

    – You can put a “I heart Lancaster” bumper sticker on your car. If you really want to.

    1. Okay, city-boy, what about this…

      – Jesus didn’t live in the city, did he?
      – Culture is produced in cities? I’d like you to expound on that a little…

      Warm Regards
      Country Bumpkin

      1. Country Bumpkin-

        Well, I do believe that Jesus may have lived in a city. From my limited understanding, Nazareth was actually one of the larger cities in that area at his time. But then again, Jesus said that he didn’t even have a place to lay his own head, so the point may be moot.

        But – culture is indeed created in cities, because more people are in cities. Tim Keller says it a whole lot better than I can in this little 2 minute video clip:

        1. that’s a great video. thanks for sharing it.

          but while tim keller talks a lot about influencing people and culture, he doesn’t mention cities once – just that living good public lives is as important as living good private ones.

          still unsure of your thesis that culture is created in cities, but intrigued by the idea.

          1. James Davison Hunter uses an analogy of culture as a river. We all live somewhere along the river and interact with the contents of the river at some point. Most people live downstream of where culture is created. The art, literature, movies, music, television, politics, etc. are all generated in major urban centers. The ideologies, philosophies, and preferences of these select few get passed downstream for everyone to interact with.

            Hunter argues that the way to transform the world is through penetrating these spheres of influence within the biggest cities of the world. Rallying the majority won’t bring change. The example he uses is homosexuality. Though representing a fraction of the population, they represent a large role in television shows and political debate. Hunter would attribute the concentration of gay in cities to their exposure in culture.

            The apostle Paul recognized the power of cities. He went from urban center to urban center because he knew as the cities went, so went the culture. In the middle of Romans 15, he says there’s no one left for him to preach to from Jerusalem to Illyricum (Croatia), and that is why he must go to Rome. Surely he didn’t visit every town, but he hit the major cities.

            The question is whether the internet changes the game and whether a country bumpkin can change the world with a blog.

  4. so, #9…you were totally channeling Seinfeld on that one, eh?

    – If you’re looking to buy, houses in the city are MUCH less expensive than in the ‘burbs.

    – People watching is much more interesting. And there’s a lot more people to watch!

    1. Yes, most of my experience with apartments has to do with:
      1) Messiah college apartments
      2) Seinfeld
      3) Friends

      And I’m always up for people watching.

  5. Chestnut Hill Cafe and the truly neighborhood experience of it, especially sitting at the sidewalks tables in nice weather. With a great bookstore across the street.

    Diversity of people. Within 50 feet of my front door, I can experience Puerto Rican, Haitian, Vietnamese, Native American, African American, and Pennsylvanian Dutch cultures by way of language, music, food, and friendship.

    Snow shoveling is a communal celebration. Well, it’s just as much a chore as anywhere else, but all your neighbors are doing it right next to you, so it is kind of a party.

    CHEAP mortgages- who needs the stress of high home values. I love getting to spend my money and give my money elsewhere.

    First Fridays and Music Fridays- There’s something for everyone, and from anywhere in Lancaster city you can walk downtown in under a half hour, and laugh at those who are caught in the traffic jam on Prince Street.

    I’ll echo your walking statement again and again- I can walk to 3 fresh markets, all my favorite coffee shops, favorite restaurants, my bank, my church, the baseball park, the greenway trail, county park, Fulton Theater, quite a few friends, a hardware store, and my grocery store in less than 30 minutes (and 30 minutes gets you almost all the way across the diameter of Lancaster, so most of these I reach in about 15 minutes of walking).

    1. That’s a fine list, Bret. Density and diversity are at the heart of my love for the city. All aspects of life can be within a 15 minute walk–commerce, residence, politics, culture, education. That’s actually how some define a city, a place marked by proximity. Some towns might fit the definition of a city if those components of life are close.

      Density also makes personal contact unavoidable. When I lived in Gap, I never saw my neighbors. Our homes are football fields apart and we had garages the led into our kitchens. The city demands social interaction, the very thing I NEED to keep be from becoming calloused and insular.

      The diversity stretches me to grow socially and spiritually. There are people different from me who challenge me to think more deeply about my beliefs. There people smarter than me that push me beyond superficial answers. Apart from ethnic diversity, there’s socioeconomic and academic diversity within 50ft of my house.

      The city is the best placed to live in Lancaster County.

  6. Shoveling Sidewalks, fighting for a parking space, shoveling the alley because no one came to plow it and the guy on the end with a snowblower had to get to work…

    That aside, I still love living in the city. Most importantly is the ability to walk everywhere. Living close to a snow emergency route and a hospital has it perks when you are injured or need to get out in the winter. If I forget milk, there’s always a corner store nearby. The houses have fewer exterior walls and take less to heat as a row house unless you have old windows…

    I also love the forced community. I am fortunate to have awesome neighbors. :)

  7. As someone who has lived downtown for most of the past 5 years, here’s my input!

    1 – Walking is underrated. Living in the city would mean I could walk just about anywhere that I needed to go.

    I currently live about 3 blocks from “downtown” – I can get to any of the three best coffee shops in Lancaster within a lovely 15 minute walk, not to mention when I want to go out for a NIGHT ON THE TOWN, I don’t need a DD-I just walk. Maybe a bit stumbly. However, add an additional 8.625 hours for when the idiot that ignores pedestrian crossings hits you and you end up in the Lancaster Regional Hospital ER>no, not the LGH ER. Trust me, the Regional ER is better.

    2 – Cars are overrated. See #1.

    I have become a MASTER at parallel parking, but yes, that $25 parking permit each year bugs the crap out of me. I have never had too many issues finding a parking spot in the city, except for downtown. So yep, use the public transportation system. On the plus side of this too, no auto insurance, and you’re doing your part to be more green. But again, up the ante on your life insurance thanks to #1, idiot drivers.

    3 – Cities are generally 2-3 degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside (yes, right now it is winter – this may not be a benefit in the summer months).

    Most homes (granted I’ve only lived in apartments in the city) in the city do NOT have air conditioning. Two of my apartments have been in 2nd or 3rd floor, and trust me, those 2-3 degrees SUCK in the summer. Come winter, being in an older home that I am, as most city homes are, the brick/plaster combination is not exactly the best for keeping the heat in. Most of the homes are also oil heated, which is pricey. Wow, I’m not making a very good case for living in the city.

    4 – The guy in the coffee shop who has no good reason to be there. Which is, of course, the best reason of all to be in a coffee shop.

    Yes, you can find Ken Mueller EVERYWHERE. Just watch out for Shadow’s yellow snow.

    5 – Usually people in the cities are the ones that survive all the big disasters and end-of-the-world type catastrophes. At least, that’s what happens in the movies.

    It’s because we live in an area where those bomb shelters still exist, and I know where a few of them are. I’ll let you in on the secret when you move here!

    6 – I like getting lost in crowds of people and the feeling that I am connected to this mass of humanity.

    Avoid First Friday if you think this is true – there is no hiding or getting lost in the crowd. I can’t go more than 10 feet without seeing someone I know. This happens all the time. But it also COULD be a Lancaster County thing. You may have luck in other cities.

    7 – Manhole covers.

    I friggin’ hate manhole covers.

    8 – Trees that spring up in the midst of sidewalks, growing out of four square feet of soil.

    Ok, these are COOOOOOOL. I’ll try to take a snapshot of some of the trees whose surrounding sidewalks have been replaced. The roots are then raised above the sidewalks, and the roots have grown into a cube. It’s AWESOME.

    9 – Door buzzers, to which the person in the corresponding room says, “Yeah?” and you say, “It’s George,” and they respond, “C’mon up.”

    I have a door buzzer. I ALSO have the Seinfeld phone thingamabob, but it no longer works. I need to get it fixed, because it’s uber fun. Buzzing people is also good times, as long as they understand push when buzz.

    10 – Using a broom handle to poke the ceiling, conveying the message to your neighbors upstairs that they need to keep it down.

    This has been done to me.

    Overall Shawn, having grown up in Conestoga Township, surrounded by four fields, and taking sleigh rides with my Amish neighbors in winter, I love living in the city! There’s a reason I have had 4 different apartments over the course of 5 years I have lived here! I am ready to leave though, and go back to country and backyard. But I don’t want to leave the convenience and connection of the city. I hope you and your family will join us sometime soon!

  8. 5 years ago, when we were looking to buy a house, I was dead set against moving into the city. Then I read Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric O. Jacobsen (http://dft.ba/-sidewalks), bought a house in the city, and have no desire to ever move out (of the city, I would be very happy to move out of this house).

    I honestly don’t remember the specifics of the book very well, just that it was very good. I’m pretty sure the books arguments ran along very much the same lines as Jeremy’s.

  9. I didn’t have time to read all the comments so if I am rehashing reasons I apologize.

    1) Cost of Living – Not always the case but in Lancaster City you can buy a great place for cheaper than you could rent something in the country.

    2) Shoveling sidewalks is easier than shoveling 400yards of stone driveway.

    3) Central Market never closes so you don’t have to rush to the turkey hill to overpay for milk and bread every time they are calling for 2-3 inches of snow.

    4) Ryan Dagen’s advanced experience should be heeded…I have lived in the country for 18 years of my life and two different cities for 8 years. In my experience, the city has more to offer Christ followers in regards to culture, experience, lifestyle, and need.

    On the downside, safety can be an issue and as a father you would want to take that into consideration…This morning as i was shoveling snow, i went to pick up a McDonalds bag that was discarded on my sidewalk only to find that it was filled with used needles. Not cool considering there are dozens of kids on my block who play in this street. However, I hadn’t discovered it for more than 10 seconds before there were two neighbors by my side helping me carefully clean up the hazard as we discussed how to make our street safer for children.

    Needles and all, I love my neighborhood, my neighbors. Hope you find a place that you Love equally Shawn…happy hunting!

  10. Someone needs to take the other side here.

    Walking/Cars – living in the country gives you an excuse to own a lifted 4 wheel drive truck (well, it does me)

    Cities are warmer – I live in AZ and it is about 5 degrees warmer where I work in the city which translates to 110 at home and 115 in the city…I will take 110

    Small town coffee shops are way better then big city coffee shops and often offer friendlier and more interesting people so worth the drive in your big truck.

    Country people survive disasters better because they are usually already stocked up on food since it is a 30 minute drive to the grocery store.

    Crowds of people draw weirdos as a general rule.

    Never lived in the city so can’t really comment on manholes, trees surrounded by concrete, door buzzers or poking the ceiling with a broom handle (WTH?!?!)

  11. Ha! “Crowds of people draw weirdos as a general rule” – still not sure if that is a positive or a negative, but I got a good laugh out of it in either case.

  12. Seems like I’m going to be the oddball here, and while I don’t live in Lancaster City, downtown Ephrata provides many similar experiences that everyone else has already posted. I must say that I still miss the country. I grew up in the country and I miss the privacy, the beautiful scenery, and the peaceful atmosphere. Walking to places is great and convenient, but that’s about the best perk I’ve experienced from downtown living.

    I guess that’s why they are called opinions.

  13. it is true. zombies and renegade biker gangs always attack abandoned farm houses in the movies. but the lady in the third floor high rise downtown is usually alive if she hides out in her bath tub under a cardboard box.

  14. City vs Country Living! you didn’t?!?!

    This is way more crazy than a free will vs predestination discussion!

    I have lived in suburbs, out in the country and in a mid sized city (Fort Worth is 17th in country-not huge). I think it probably comes down to two things:

    1. What makes you thrive?
    2. Are you willing to make the best of it?
    Oh, wait…3 things. What can you afford?!?

    I think I am sort of built for the city, but there are things to enjoy and embrace about living anywhere.

    Things I love about my current in town/city neighborhood:

    Within 0.5 miles I can walk to Mexican, Lebanese, American Bistro and Italian restaurants. I can walk to the elementary school, 1 park, 1 public pool and 1 river side bike path within 10 minutes. There is also a new French Bakery a few streets down which is epic!

    Within a 5 min drive I can be at the Botanic Gardens, 3 museums, several performance venues, more parks, and all sorts of other fun activities and cultural centers.

    There are many, many cultures represented in the neighborhood, the schools, the local businesses, etc..

    It was easier to get to know my neighbors because I see them all the time…we are in VERY close proximity.

    Bottom line for me is that I enjoy and am energized by living in a multi cultural community and really appreciate what city living has to offer.

    I did, however, find that living a more secluded life was nice, too.

    I will say that I miss this about the country living:

    1.Easy and inexpensive access to farm raised, organic, humanely handled food.
    2.Privacy and serenity of being a little more apart from others geographically.
    3.Generally communing with nature.
    4.Mom and Pop ice cream shops and disorganized hardware stores
    5. Having a large space inside and out to entertain friends and family in

    My philosophy is this: Either live in the city and travel to beach/country on your time off OR live in the country and travel to the city on your time off.

    Shawn if you could live anywhere-where would you live?

  15. Resons to move to the city? Hmmmm, that’s a hard one for me. I’d much rather be in Paradise. Still, having lived in both the city and the country, I can say city life has one major perk – food. Seeing four star Indian, Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, and Italian restaurants, along with a cozy family diner, all in a four block radius, excites my heart in ways even I don’t understand. There is equally nothing quite so dissapointing to the pallate as opening the phone book to find a greasy Chinese joint, a Tex-Mex bar, and Pizza are among your only options for “cultured” food. Baltimore, Dear Baltimore, how I miss thy varied cuisine.

  16. We don’t live in the city, however i can still walk to the library, the park, our dr’s office, our dentist, our eye dr., a local farmers market, (in season), a coffee shop, a winery, a bakery, an ice cream shop, our bank and turkey hill to pay for overpriced milk when they are calling for 2-3 inches of snow!! (Ryan~that was a classic line).

    Although I love where we live, (Strasburg) I know that in order to experience a diverse culture I have to load up my 3 children and drive to the *city*, which I do quite often. It’s important to me that our children see more then white skin every day of their lives and eat only mashed potatos and corn.

  17. I like the best of both worlds approach… and since we are ready to downsize, this would be a great time to make the change. If any of you longing for the country life are interested in buying a house in Paradise, let me know. It’s only a 5 – 10 minute walk to the post office, bank, barber, church, Revere Tavern, the Rainbow Dinner Theatre, an independent (Amish) book store and the fire hall – where you can play meat bingo on Thursday evenings. Hmmm, maybe we already have the best of both worlds??

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