Choosing Where to Live

Choosing Where to Live: Busy Street Vs. Neighborhood Street

August 2, 2013 | Apartment Hunting, Apartment Hunting Advice

When choosing where to live, there’s a lot you’ll want to consider. Do you need to be able to walk to the grocery store? Is it important that you live near a thriving nightlife scene? Would you prefer to live on a block with lots of families? All of these questions are important ones to ask, because once you’ve targeted your preferred neighborhood, you’ll have to narrow things down even further. Most importantly, you’ll want to decide whether you’d like to live on a busy, bustling thoroughfare or a quiet, residential street.

Busy Street: The Pros

There are a lot of benefits to living on a busy corridor. For one thing, if you live in a big city or even a relatively large suburb, you’ll probably be mere steps from bus and transit routes. If you’re car-free (or just don’t want to deal with parking on a daily basis), living so close to a major throughway will make the logistics of living sans-automobile significantly less difficult.

Living on a busy street will also probably mean that you have easy access to desirable amenities like restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, entertainment venues and convenience stores. If living near a bevy of nightlife options is a priority for you, this is likely to be one of the biggest perks of choosing to live on a bustling urban block.

Finally, many renters simply enjoy the ambiance of living on a busy block. Foot traffic is plentiful on these streets, which actually increases your sense of safety and security. The white noise of passerby moving through the neighborhood also provides a sense of energy and excitement that is simply impossible to recreate on a sleepy residential street.

Busy Street: The Cons

When choosing where to live, you’ll also want to think about the cons of living on a busy street. Though foot traffic does mean increased safety (with more pairs of eyes around, it’s harder to get away with committing a crime), it can also mean that due to the sheer number of people moving through your area, you’re bound to see a, er, wider variety of lifestyles. If you’re new to city life and are uncomfortable with things like campaigning activists, beggars, or–in some neighborhoods–rough behavior, you might want to consider how often you’ll be exposing yourself to these aspects of urban life.

You’ll also want to consider the health hazards of living on a busy street. If your prospective block is a thoroughfare for cars, make sure there are plenty of crosswalks and sidewalks available for pedestrians (and make sure to look into your parking options if you have a car!). Another important factor is the tree cover of the street. Streets barren of trees are known for being dusty, so opening your windows can sometimes result in poor air quality within your apartment.

Neighborhood Street: The Pros

Picture a tree-lined avenue complete with charming homes, parks, green spaces and backyards. Now imagine a few stroller-pushers and dog walkers passing by, nodding hello on their way to that busy street we mentioned above. Living on a residential street can encompass all the best of city life: an active community, a diverse variety of neighbors, beautiful streets and unique city architecture.

Living on a neighborhood street can be much less stressful than living on a busy one. For one thing, there’s the fact that most of your neighbors will be other renters or homeowners, rather than businesses. This creates an aura of permanence within the area which means that people will probably be more likely to invest in neighborly relationships, keep well-maintained yards and homes, and consider living on the street long into their childbearing years. For another, living on a residential street within a large city gives you the best of both worlds: You’ll still have relatively easy access to transit without having to compromise on aesthetics and green space.

Neighborhood Street: The Cons

Living on a neighborhood street isn’t all hearts and candy. In fact, if you really believe that you’re going to be living some hipster version of Stepford, you’re bound to be disappointed. Yes, you will be living in close quarters with a lot of other city-dwellers–this means that you’re not going to have the anonymity you would have had living on a busy street (and your neighbors won’t, either). Quarrels and spats are bound to happen, whether it’s over your next-door neighbor’s apparent inability to pick up after her dog, or that house of college kids’ refusal to stop playing beer pong outside at 2AM on a Tuesday night.

Finally, you will still be a little further from amenities that you would be if you lived on a busier street. Because you’ll have to first get out of your own neighborhood before you can find nightlife, a grocery store and transit, you’ll probably find that living on a residential street is a bit less walkable that you’d like.

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