The Small City


I currently live in a small Australian city, far away from the coast. I will not name it. There’s clear air, a clear night sky and often the birds are louder than the cars. If you’re an American, we’re talking a country town. Population-wise, something close to Tampa, Tulsa or Wichita.

COVID-19 drove many people out of big cities, and turned bustling broadways into ghostly corridors, but that was more of a hedging. People upsized from apartment to home, and took advantage of not having to drive into work. But in 2021, offices are already opening, and eventually things will resume.

I’m not sold on my small city, but it has a few strengths. The strengths of a small city are inherently boring, and will always be drowned out by the big city, because that’s what a big city does. The small city can never compete on those things, nor should it.

  • Very good air quality

  • Little to no light pollution.

  • Much less noise pollution

  • Little to no trash

  • Easy access to cheap, good quality supermarkets

  • Easy access to cheap, local produce

  • Access to interesting ingredients, brands etc

  • Much less traffic, more parking spaces

  • Shorter commute times

  • Safer walking as a pedestrian

  • Safer as a cyclist

  • Closer and more accessible to nature

  • Bigger, cheaper apartments close to city center

  • More affordable property market

Big cities struggle with this stuff. Take cycling safety for example. In SF, you can find hundreds of click-bait articles, petitions, twitter death matches and horror stories. You can also find innovation, improvements and beauty (maybe not a great example since SF is one of the worlds best cities to cycle, and I rode it daily for about 2 years).

But when you start thinking of these as a stack, and if you take your personal values into account, they are worth considering.

April 17, 2021

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