Living Happily Ever After in the Suburbs
By JOELLE POULIOT
When I say “suburbs”, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? A safe, peaceful area where everyone is blissfully happy, right? However, when you take a look at the facts, people living in the suburbs are not all that happy. Indeed, suburbia can have negative just as much as positive impacts on its residents.
In the 1950’s, when suburbia was first introduced, moving to the suburbs was seen as moving in paradise. Everyone living there was considered unconditionally happy. However, studies show that children who live in these planned communities are much more depressed than those who live in cities. The Suburbs are not what they used to be.
Firstly, life in the suburbs can be really stressful for working adults. Living quite far away from the city, they have to commute by car or by train to their working place every day. Traffic and packed buses is what they have to deal with. They have to leave early in the morning and come back after dark, which means they barely have any free time. On weekends, when they’re off from work, instead of relaxing, they have to do chores or go shopping for essential goods such as groceries. In other words, the life of a working adult in the suburbs is a stressful, busy one, with barely any time for friends and family.
Secondly, suburbia seems to have a lot of negative impacts on teenagers. In fact, teenage girls living in the suburbs have rates of depression three times higher than average teen girls. Anxiety and substance use rates are also fairly higher for teenagers living in the suburbs than for those living in cities. It can be explained by them having much more pressure to succeed, coming from households of higher wealth, but also by the fact that their parents are rarely present, as explained previously. Children need parents in their lives to grow up properly. However, teenagers from the suburbs can barely have any interaction with their parents, due to busy schedules. Negative psychological effects on teenagers are thus unavoidable.
Finally, you might be wondering if there is actually anything good coming out of suburbia. Sure, it does not represent the perfect, structured, peaceful life it did in the 1950’s. However, to a lot of people, the suburbs are still a safe haven to flee to when the noisy and dirtied cities become too much to handle. It is still a great place to raise young children because of how safe it is. Parents don’t have to worry every time their children go outside, since there are little to no dangers awaiting them. All in all, suburbia can still offer a less stressful life than cities do, but it does not suit everyone.
To conclude, I must say that “researchers have yet to link suburban social environments to any patterns of psychological distress.” In other words, it is not proved that living in the suburbs can affect one’s mental state. However, the facts mentioned previously are not meant to be ignored and you should consider them when choosing whether you want to live a suburban life or not.