My wife and I sold our way-too-big-for-two-people-and-a-small-dog house in May and moved into an apartment in downtown Cincinnati. There are things I don’t love about living here. The apartment is kinda small. Our upstairs neighbor is loud sometimes. Motorcycles love to rev their engines on Ft. Washington Way as they zoom by. Our dog loses her mind every time fireworks go off at Great American Ballpark. But those are minor annoyances compared to how much I love living in the center of the city I adore. So, nearly three months into our year downtown, here’s the top five reasons I love living in downtown Cincinnati:
1. Every day is a walk in the park. Literally. At least once a day—usually twice—I take our dog for a walk in Smale Park on the banks of the Ohio River. I used to hate walking Fiona when we owned our house. It always felt like an inconvenience. A nuisance that kept me from living. Now walking her feels like life. The walks are peaceful. They’re fun. They include beautiful scenery and, in a bizarre twist, Fiona is teaching me to stop and smell the roses (or dog urine in her case). She literally stopped, sat, and enjoyed the view last weekend on one of our walks. It made me stop and take a few minutes to enjoy the Roebling Suspension Bridge and rolling hills of Kentucky.
2. Downtown is a social smorgasbord. One of the silliest American myths is that people living in the ‘burbs have nightly cookouts with their neighbors while folks living downtown are alone and isolated in their tiny apartments. That is the exact opposite of our experiences. While I’m sure many suburbanites are best buddies with their neighbors (I know people who are), I know more who are barely on speaking terms. We knew our neighbors in Clifton, but we never hung out with them. Passing conversations in the front yard didn’t create much of a friendship. Downtown has been surprisingly social. A day barely passes that doesn’t include a conversation with someone in the park, a bartender, or a neighbor.
3. Downtown is alive with activity. There’s something about witnessing life that inspires me to live. My favorite places (to live or visit) have always had a large front window to the world. I know this is an oversimplification, but the ‘burbs have always felt so lifeless to me. Too quiet. Too sterile. Too many lonely meals and lame sitcoms. Again, that may not mirror your experiences, but they were certainly mine. I felt bored a lot in our house; I’m rarely bored downtown because even if I’m doing nothing, I can stand on my balcony and see other people living. That activity energizes me. I’m writing more. I’m creating more. I’m dreaming more. I feel more alive downtown.
4. We’re more adventurous downtown. This may sound crazy, but I’ve seen a tangible difference in the way Liz and I live. We’re trying new things, taking more risks, exploring the unknown. I’ve especially seen a new spirit of adventure emerge in Liz. Moving was the kick in the rear we needed to wake up from a mundane life. Not everyone needs to live downtown to experience that kick, of course (I know some incredibly adventurous people who don’t live downtown), but it hit the spot for us.
5. We’re happier downtown. Life is way too short to be unhappy. I’ll never understand why so many of us make decisions that ultimately lead to unhappiness. And it’s not like they’re coin flip choices that don’t go our way. We know it won’t make us happy, but we do it anyway. That feels like insanity. Liz and I (usually) weren’t miserable in our house, but we weren’t happy either. We were just sorta going through the motions. Living downtown is teaching us that life is what you make of it. Nothing is predetermined. You can choose happiness the same way you select a pair of pants in the morning. I will be eternally grateful for that lesson. If downtown were a person, I’d buy her a MiCA 12/v gift card to say thank you.
Although I seem biased against the ‘burbs right now, one thing I love about Cincinnati is how unique and wonderful our 52 neighborhoods are. I could write a very similar post about living in Clifton, Mt. Adams, or Hyde Park. I bet you could write one about your neighborhood (that would help educate me about parts of Cincinnati I’ve never explored). I’d love to hear them.
Photo (Flickr CC) by brett211