The Urban-Suburban Housing Conundrum

Marcelle Cerny describes her family's so-far-fruitless quest for an affordable, suburban-sized home in an urban area close to public transit and amenities.
April 30, 2010, 6am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Cerny describes how she and her husband have looked at numerous small, semi-detached houses near downtown Toronto, that were once affordable but are now the "exclusive domain of the double-income, Starbucks-drinking set." She wants the spaciousness and affordability of the suburbs, but with urban amenities. Why, she asks, can't they find the best of both worlds?

"[W]hat we need is an affordable, big, four-bedroom suburban house – in the city. That way, we non-car owners could live in spacious comfort and still be within easy walking distance of a decent health-food store, playing fields, the library, the boys' public school, restaurants, our families and work. Unfortunately for our children, who ask regularly for a backyard – with grass – we have urban tastes and a suburban budget, and we're finding these competing concerns hard to reconcile.

I recognize how much our suburban-dwelling friends love their homes, and their version of life sounds appealing...[but] I look around at what [my children] see every day – the diversity of the city, the homeless and the wealthy, art and ugliness, bad and good – and I hope that experience will serve them well. It's why we want to raise them in the city in the first place."

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Published on Thursday, April 29, 2010 in The Globe and Mail
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