A tale of two townhouses

5 Jul

Or…. Brooklyn vs. Springfield.

Here’s a townhouse for sale in Brooklyn, NY: 4 floors, split into two units, 3,780 square feet, 13 rooms, elegantly remodeled with original marble fireplaces, pocket doors, etc. $2,725,000

Here’s a townhouse for sale in Springfield, MA (next door to me): 3,190 square feet, 4 floors single family home, 10 rooms, nicely remodeled with original fireplaces, pocket doors, etc. $287,000

Note the difference in zeros. Images are from the realtor listings linked above.

In case you missed it, the house in Brooklyn costs ten times as much as the one in Springfield.

Do you like nice big old homes? Do you want to live in a truly diverse, non-consumer driven city? Do you want to escape the homogeneity of artisan chocolatiers, knitting shops, and baby-centric culture that is hipster Brooklyn? Why not think about moving to Springfield? Our average home price is $180,000 and there’s not a knitting shop, cupcake boutique, or artisan chocolatier to be found. What you will find is a very comfortable, friendly way of life, centered around friends and community rather than shopping and consuming. And you’ll have an opportunity to meet lots of different people.

While Brooklyn looks a lot like an advertisement for Apple (R) or The Gap (TM), Springfield has folks you’re not apt to see strolling to their Mommy and Me (C) class. Our demographics are about 52% Hispanic/Latino, 21% Black, and 56% White, although in the schools, the white and Latino percentages are switched. We have lots of people from Vietnam, Somalia, and Russia who have settled here as political, economic, or religious refugees.

When I visit two of my favorite city parks, Forest Park or Five Mile Pond (I’ve got a swim planned later today — admission to all city parks is free if you walk or you can buy a $10.00 resident pass to enter all parks all year), I hear lots of different languages, meet lots of different people, see all sorts of families and seniors and adults.

I have friends who live in Brooklyn (that’s how I know about the cupcake shops and letterpress card boutiques). I used to think it was so cool there — all the shops and the hipsters. And I bemoaned our lack of boutiques and coffee shops. But after a few years, it all started to look the same, and the focus on shopping and consumption really struck me. I’m increasingly getting off the merry-go-round of consumer consumption (house stuff excepted, but that is more permanent than a cupcake or a drindl skirt) and eating out, and find that little old Springfield is just right for me and my lifestyle. A friend and I started a site a while ago to lure more homeowners to our fair city. We found that people who moved here really appreciated the sense of community they hadn’t expected.

If you’d like to spend less but still live large in a big old house, maybe you should consider Springfield, too!

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2 Responses to “A tale of two townhouses”

  1. Erica Walch July 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    I want to point out that math isn’t my strong point. “Math is hard,” as Teen Talk Barbie is alleged to have said.

    52 + 21 + 56 = something more than 100, so not sure what the census is up to with those figures. Let’s just say that Springfield is racially diverse.

  2. Alexis L., The Studioist July 10, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Hi Erica,
    From stats I’ve seen about Springfield, I think the Hispanic / Latino population might be more like 25% than 52%, which would get you a lot closer to 100%.

    Springfield looks delightful. We’re Brooklynites always in search of a city we could call home on a more permanent basis. While NYC has been fine in a lot of ways, we can’t see raising children here or growing old here. The declining economic and ethnic diversity is a major reason, as is displacement. (I’ve lived in 3 boroughs in 10 years, always chased out by rent increases.) What’s your sense of the job opportunities, broadly speaking, in Springfield?

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