I Live With My Parents In The Suburbs. It's Freaking Sweet.

For the past seven years, I have been an urban girl. From a series of apartments in Wicker Park and Bucktown, I mastered all modes of transportation on the CTA, sampled restaurants with cuisine both familiar and foreign, explored nooks and crannies of a city that never seems to stop evolving, and even stuck around long enough to legitimately lament about “the way things used to be” in my neighborhood. I balked at coworkers who opted to live in the suburbs instead of the city, accusing them of remaining dependent on their parents and being unwilling to stray from the safety of their suburban bubble. (Because when you’re tough like me, you can really rough it in Bucktown. One time, the Starbucks lost power, and I had to cross the six-way intersection to get Caribou Coffee instead.) But for the last month, I haven’t lived within the 773 area code. Currently, I’m squatting at my parents’ house in the suburbs, and it’s freaking sweet.

Firstly, I sleep way better out here. It literally gets darker at night and I’m not awakened every 45 minutes with sirens blasting outside my window. The one time I did see sirens on my parents’ street, it was a complete novelty and it seriously drew people outside from their homes to see what all the fuss was about. In case you’re curious, there was no fuss to be had. I think the cop just wanted to blow a stop sign and so turned on his sirens or something.

Also, I can go to the grocery store without feeling like I’m preparing  for battle. You can run in and out in under 3 minutes, and you’ll even be told to “have a nice day” without a hint of sarcasm. Though fans of the Roscoe Village Mariano’s might not believe me, the suburbs even have the same produce and specialty brands for less money! Imagine that. Not to mention, I hardly have to go grocery shopping anymore because my parents have a magical refrigerator that just keeps spawning more food. I’m a little annoyed at how it keeps replenishing the pineapple yogurt and not the Brie cheese and taco dip that my personal fridge is usually stocked with, but who am I to complain about magic.

The downside to living with my parents? (I mean, beyond the obvious fact that I’m 29 and living with my folks. Don’t worry, it’s temporary, and my mom is ridiculously excited that I’m here for these six weeks. Really, this whole arrangement is to make her happy because I’m such a great daughter.) The real downside is how every outing takes so much more planning and time. I haven’t been able to explore and visit public spaces as much as I want, and I’m quickly becoming reminded how isolating suburban living can be. Which is funny, because it’s not like I was all that social in Chicago—I guess it was just nice knowing that you could strike up a conversation with that stranger at the bus stop, though any time somebody tried to do that to me I instantly wrote them off as a psycho. I was usually right.

So yes, I miss the convenience of the city, and I miss my friends who all live there, but they don’t have a magical refrigerator. Advantage: suburbs.

Now you tell me: which place do you prefer?

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  • Hi Christine--I know what you mean about the noise because I live around the corner from a fire station. If not the sirens, a motorcycle gang zooms past my window abruptly. I totally love my city of Chicago and wouldn't live anywhere else, but I could use the peace and quiet every now and then. And of course, it's sweet to raid your parent's fridge--no criticism here!

  • In reply to Sabrina Nixon:

    Yes! The motorcycles! I could write a whole separate post on how obnoxious they are when revving up their engines. As annoying as the sirens and motorcycles are though, they're still not reason enough to leave the city...just a pleasant perk of the burbs. Hope the fire station isn't too active tonight for your sake!

  • Hi Christine,
    I'm 22 and still live at home and this spawning refrigerator is quite an amazing phenomenon, heck, it's probably the biggest reason to keep me here! I've lived in the city all my life and although i love it, i long for those quiet nights and star filled skies. Great post, it made me giggle!

  • In reply to WMagicS:

    Thanks! And while the quiet night and star-filled skies will always be there, the spawning refrigerator may not...take advantage of it while you can!

  • Christine - I'm going to give a parent's perspective. My son has been hanging here for a week - that magic fridge that you refer to costs MOM and DAD hundreds of dollars extra. The guy can eat! And eat and eat and eat. Outta here kid! (Phew, he's leaving tonight . . .)

  • In reply to Margaret Goss:

    Aw! Yes, I am very appreciative of the magic elves that keep the fridge stocked (maybe this is why they keep stocking 69-cent yogurts instead of $7 cheeses?). I'm sure your son also appreciates your magic refrigerator!

  • Hey Christine - Saw your post and I'm two days into my own blog (Goodbye City Hello Suburbs) so I knew we'd have some things in common. Totally hit the nail on the head with this statement - "I’m quickly becoming reminded how isolating suburban living can be. Which is funny, because it’s not like I was all that social in Chicago—I guess it was just nice knowing that you could strike up a conversation with that stranger." That's been one of the biggest differences, whether real or perceived, for me.

  • In reply to ruraphobic:

    Hey there! I'm sure we could swap quite a few stories about suburban life. I hope your transition is going well and that isolated feeling isn't a long-term one. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say on your blog!

  • I hate living with my parents and I will do anything *Legal* to get the hell out of my parents house. Once I get a better paying job, Im moving to Uptown.

  • In reply to ChibiDannimon:

    Good luck! I definitely prefer living on my own, don't get me wrong--just trying to make the most out of the situation!

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    I'm with Margaret here-- my post college kid is "transitioning" into adult life and the magic fridge is a favored perk.

    On the plus side, adult children are solo much easier than teenagers, and his company is much more enjoyable than when he was 18. I'm sure your mom is enjoying her time with you!

  • In reply to Lucy Lloyd:

    It's funny, I find my parents much more enjoyable now than when I was 18, too! It's like the Mark Twain quote: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”

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    Thank you very much for the wonderful essay. Loved the Magic Fridge and the loss of power story. I needed a good laff.

  • In reply to Christy Comstock:

    Thanks! Glad you liked it!

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