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town & country

About two years ago my husband and I became empty-nesters. We brought up our kids in a suburb, because we thought it was safer and the schools were better. They’ve all turned out great, so I don’t regret the decision.

But then, with our kids gone, the house didn’t seem the same. I used to walk around and be driven to tears with all the memories of the happy times we had when there was all that activity. Our house was on a cul-de-sac, and when I’d walk outside to get some fresh air, I’d get depressed looking at all the other houses with their attached garage doors closed and nobody around.

So, less than a year ago, we did something crazy (for us). We sold the house and moved into a nice home in the city. Our kids were sad at first, but we’ve been planning some nice holiday visits in the new house which is right near a park and a bunch of shops and restaurants and theaters and museums. We like to go on walks, and we’ve made more friends in just the last summer than we ever made on our little dead end in the suburbs.

But then, two weeks ago, we had a burglary. It’s been tough dealing with the loss of some valuables, as well as the feeling of having been violated. My husband asked me if I thought we should bag the whole city thing. Our neighbor friends have been very supportive. They seem sad that this happened to us, and many of them have shared stories of being robbed themselves.

I don’t know what’s worse: Being afraid in the city, or sad in the suburbs.

The New Urbanite

The Practical Cogitator says: You are now living in an urban environment. So, you need to adjust a few things; you cannot continue to live as though you are still living in the suburbs. First things first, secure your home. An alarm system is worth every cent, and reasonably priced. Security bars on all of your first floor windows can serve as a deterrent to any thief. Messing with them is just not worth the hassle; in fact, it’s often enough to send them on to some other house. Some bars can make you feel like you are imprisoned, yes, but some bars can actually look decorative while providing you the security you desire and fresh air you desire. You should never leave anything of value in your car—it will surely be missing when you return.

I’m glad to hear you enjoy the urban social scene, the arts, the culture, the shopping, the proximity to restaurants and parks. I’m certain you appreciate the lower taxes; take advantage of your new savings and secure your property, tune into your inner street smarts, perhaps even establish a block club with your new neighbors and lobby the police for more frequent patrols. Don’t be afraid in the city. Be smart in the city.

The Omniscient One: You had some bad luck, but you’re not going to find any safety in the suburbs. Burglaries can happen anywhere and even more so in the suburbs.

The Brookings Institute’s most recent figures on crime show when it comes to property crimes, such as burglary and theft, the trend is clear: The metro areas saw a significant decline over the past two decades from six percent to as much as 30 percent. However, the suburbs experienced an increase of 3.7 percent to 10 percent. With something like burglary, it’s important to remember a very small percentage of criminals account for a very large percent of that crime. Professional burglars go where the valuables are, and there are more valuables in the suburbs.

The Backroom Guy says: My house in the city was burglarized last year. While I was sleeping in my bed, four guys climbed in through a window and took a bunch of stuff, including my car keys, from my house. I was so angry and the feeling of violation was overwhelming. I moved immediately. But I didn’t move to my parents’ house in the suburbs or to North Buffalo. I moved two blocks away because nobody can take an entire city from me. Lock up, be aware, and choose a spot less likely to be burglarized, like the upper floor of an apartment or condo building.

Smart Money says: We were broken into as well. It sucks, but it’s life. Be extra diligent. Get an alarm system (and a dog). I won’t tell you how long it has been. You’ll get over your anxiety. Good luck!

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