Moving to the (Su)burbs

by biltong101

suburbsCape Town is pumping with things to do and places to go. Many of these places are in town, in the so-called CBD. Many young people tend to live there, because they want to be close to where everything is happening. I spent 6 years moving around such areas. Some of them are a bit up on the mountain, others are closer to the ocean. I had a preference for the latter. I used to pay really reasonable money for staying in such places, but the rental increased quite significantly in the last 3 years (much more than by the 10% annual inflation). Eventually, you reach the point when it’s just not worth it anymore because the money you use on rent could be used on things you like more than being able to walk to a theater (like traveling for instance).

For me, the decision to move to the burbs was maybe more difficult than for some. When I was a teenager my mother had this brilliant idea in which her and my grandmother sold their apartments and we bought a house in a village, which by now is a burb of Warsaw. Of course, my mom didn’t consult me on that. She took me away from my friends and school at a walking distance to somewhere where it took me around 3 hours daily to commute with public transport. I hated it. I hated it even more during my studies when I felt I stayed too close too Warsaw to move out. If I wanted to party I needed to find a friend’s house, or a bathtub, to crash at for the night. I’ve been hating the burbs ever since and now I moved here out of my own free will.

Perhaps the particular place we moved to is not as bad as my mother’s place. It’s more like 15 minute drive from town than 45. My home burb for entertainment had only vodka and incest on offer. Observatory has a number of restaurants, bars, a theater and other activities such as improv comedy classes and kung fu (just to give you the most random examples). It also has a certain bohemian vibe to it which is nice. What’s less nice is that a lot of students are attracted to this vibe and it makes you feel old when you go out. I like the fact that we’re paying less for a house here than we were paying for a flat in the CBD (and much less than we would have been paying had we stayed there after the increase).

Unfortunately, lower rental prices also mean higher crime rates. We were quite unlucky in our first three weeks of tenancy in Observatory and we had our car stolen as well as experiencing a semi-burglary with someone getting access to one of our rooms through a closed window, despite the burglar bars. This doesn’t mean that a typical inhabitant of the area has their stuff disappearing as often as we did, it is just to say that opportunistic crime is very much present in the area. People hire paid security companies, install alarms in their houses and get electric fences. The rule of thumb is: make your house more secure than your neighbor’s. Perhaps it sounds horrible and pragmatic but that’s what people do around here. Of course, I didn’t enjoy being stolen from. In fact, I was very disturbed, bleak and my anxiety is still increased after these events. I will not go crazy, though and let fear guide me. I am also still not buying a pepper spray!

People associate burbs with the family vibe and indeed, we have here, basically, the whole family of my husband. I was a bit freaked out by it initially but fortunately, they’re chilled and they don’t do unexpected visits, which my mother was famous for in Warsaw after I moved out. I was close to hiding a gentleman in a wardrobe once, as she was insisting on coming upstairs during yet another unexpected call. Eventually I managed to meet her downstairs instead, blaming my flatmate for her inability to visit us on such a short notice. Anywaaaay, the life in the burbs is also associated with starting a family. However, the thought of having a dog and/or a baby still freaks me out. I did have an idea about getting a puppy but then I was lucky enough to puppy sit for someone and I realized it’s a lot of effort and what for? I feel similarly about babies. The stories we hear from our friends who already have them make me feel a bit weak in my knees. I occasionally get broody but the thought of having no time for myself or for our relationship puts me in my place. Also, you can never get rid of a child. What if you don’t want it after you had it? Don’t love it? What if it’s stupid? Or a disgrace? And why do I seem to be the only person who worries about that? No babies for me, yet.

It was certainly a big decision for me, to move to the burbs, but the financial aspect of it was very important to me. As I just started my own business, lowering the cost of living was crucial to me so that I can feel like I’m contributing towards our budget. Will I be happy here? Pfff. Despite all my efforts, I’m not a very happy person in general. I may as well be my sour self somewhere where we pay less rent.