Hard to believe that in 1800 only 3 percent of the world lived in cities. Most people lived in the countryside, in towns. By 1900 things had changed somewhat – 12 cities already had over 1 million people.
Now not only are there 400 cities with over a million people in them, but the world has 40 mega cities with over 5 million people in each (Japan, Seoul, New York, Mumbai, Delhi, LA etc.).
For as many of us choosing to downscale by moving to small towns, countless others would never dream of doing so.
There are various reasons to never leave a big city. Here are just 20 …
1. MORE JOBS, HIGHER QUALITY OF LIFE
If you live in a small town you are not going to continue a wildly exciting career as a business analyst, finance guru, graphic designer or digital editor. Even smaller cities battle to supply a steady stream of exciting jobs for the market place, let alone a town. And things like medical care and schools offer a far higher standard.
2. THE BUZZ
Start-up incubators, innovative non-profits, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, retail, universities, different cultures, inner city revival, appealing architecture, a diverse economy. Big ideas happen in crowded places.
Not just friends, but relationships with friends of friends, and their friends and contacts – giving you access to new information, business leads, networking functions, group activities etc.
Yes, there are a lot of people in a city. Millions. But whilst some people flee the city for this reason, it works for those who remain.
The consistent and high demand means that services like Woolworths online delivery, and Uber (tap a button and get picked up in minutes) can function in the highly dense areas like Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Nobody is going to send a delivery van to the middle of the Karoo on the off-chance that you crave a slab of Lindt 80% dark chocolate, now are they?
5. STREET CRED
The innovation and design hubs of Cape Town and Johannesburg bring with them a certain status. Unique design and creative agencies, collaborations, art, events and an informed media make them cities in which people are proud to live.
Live acts, theatre, movie houses, festivals, music, museums, galleries, libraries, independent book stores…
7. THE FOOD
Food markets, ethnic food stores, world-class restaurants, gourmet food delis, street vendors, mobile food caravans, vegetable box schemes, food gardens, rooftop and vertical food gardens, famous chefs, coffee culture…
8. STREET ART
Graffiti, public art and street art add to a city’s vibrancy. It plays with expectation, sparks debate, celebrates imagination and brings art to the people.
9. WEEKENDS AWAY
Where do you go, if you’re already away? There is nothing to escape if you already live in the country. Unless, of course, you head to a city for your downtime?
10. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE ODD MAN OUT
It doesn’t matter what you are, how you dress, or what kind of odd-ball pastimes you follow. When you live in a city there will always be someone else just like you. There will probably be a group of people just like you. And if not, you can start a group yourself.
There is one thing you can count on in a big city. Very few people will know your name. You can experiment, misbehave and try something new without the entire place knowing about the very next morning. You can even survive a social disaster without any serious repercussions.
You can’t survive in a city if you don’t have tolerance, and patience. Compromise is the cornerstone of high density living.
The older one gets, the less likely you are to live in a city. Cities attract the young and the young at heart.
14. NEVER A DULL MOMENT
You cannot possibly get bored in a city. Ever.
15. REAL ESTATE
The city property market is worth more than its country counterpart. Almost always. This doesn’t apply if you live in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, or Plett. But on average your home or apartment’s buying power, when sold, will be worth more in the city. Homes in Clifton, for example go for cool R50 million.
16. THE PEOPLE
Being surrounded by four million people, hearing at least four different languages on a daily basis, being part of the crowded pavements, the villages, the ‘burbs is the essence of city life. The vibrancy, noise and diversity of city living is attractive, and every city has its unique atmosphere.
17. FAMILY FRIENDLY
Cities are geared for families. Museums feature child-friendly exhibitions, many restaurants are child-friendly, beaches, playgrounds, green spaces, holiday programmes, suburban parks, schools, sports fields, movie holiday features…
Night clubs, live music venues, bars, outdoor concerts, ballet, opera, all-night shopping. And all of it stays open beyond 10pm.
19. THE URBAN RENAISSANCE
There is a growing trend the world over for people to move back into cities. And a shift away from measuring wealth in terms of square feet. Now there is interest in public spaces, walkability of cities, diversity of people, and activities in which people can take part. Cities as we know them are changing.
When your city is voted one of the best places in the world to visit, it’s a great place to be!