Who Said the Suburbs are Safe?

When Ana and I moved from West Philadelphia to Westchester, NY, we took for granted that there were certain set, understood, inailiable lifestyle changes involved. The cost of living would go up, but so would our square-footage and yard acreage. The cultural amenities would be few and far between, but the parking spaces would be plentiful. And perhaps most obvious and certain of all, we would be more insulated and would only see minorities once every other week, but we would be much, much safer.

Where in the hell did we get those crazy ideas?

Now, a year and a half into living here, I can confirm that not a single one of those assumptions about life in the suburbs (or at least, the second parts of the equations) are true. Yes, the cost of living went up, but our we have no yard to speak of and a slightly smaller apartment that costs twice as much as our Philly one did. Parking is nonexistant — so much so that we sometimes walk for an eternity to our cars. And worst of all, the crime here would make even the most hardened Christopher Miller car thiefs nervous.

In our building we recently got a letter that there have been break-ins. I regularly read about violent stabbings and other crimes at nearby malls. And most alarming of all, one of my colleagues at work in White Plains has had his car tires (all four) slashed on repeated occassions. In my entire time here, I’ve only seen a handful of police, and the only times I’ve ever laid eyes on them is when their staking out a speed trap, sobriety checkpoint, or pulling over someone for making an illegal left-hand turn. In other words, crime may be out of control, but all we’ve got here is a bunch of traffic cops.

On the eve of a visit from our West Philly friends, Andy and Katie, it’s got me wondering why the suburbs have such a utopian rep, and why the inner city get’s such a bad rap.

Update: OK, turns out I posted literally a few hours too soon. Our West Philly friends Andy and Katie visited us on Saturday, and when they woke up to drive to Westchester, suprise!, their Jeep was missing. The car and the GPS navigation system inside it were stolen. So, for all my griping and comparing the crime here to the crime there, it appears that the only real, concrete conclusion is that there’s crime just about everywhere. And LoJack is looking like a smarter and smarter investment every day.

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