How Life Changes When You Move to a Big City

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6. You will walk more

The walkability of cities compared to non-urban areas across the United States often leads to one of the greatest life changes for new city residents. More than 75% of Americans drive every day, but in many big cities using a vehicle is a choice. Better shoes are a good idea.

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7. Everyday life will be more diverse

The high concentration of people in major U.S. cities inevitably means more diversity compared to small towns. This diversity provides for more diverse experiences, from cultural events to new cuisine. In particular, cities are considerably more racially diverse than non-urban areas. While the nation as a whole is predominantly white, the majority of urban dwellers identify as non-white. In suburban areas, just under a third of residents identify as non-white, and in rural area approximately one in five do.

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8. Driving will become more complicated

The choice not to own a vehicle is considered quality of life improvement in many large U.S. cities. For those who need or prefer to own a vehicle in a city, dense urban driving brings new challenges compared to rural driving. Between 700,000 and 800,000 vehicles enter New York City every day, a far lower figure than the amount of individuals entering the city, but still an amount that causes congestion and traffic.

City drivers must navigate one-way streets, street cleaning and plowing schedule, the cutthroat environment of finding parking, and other complexities. Further, while purchasing a car costs about the same in both rural and urban areas, the cost of owning a car will go up substantially in a city due to the cost of parking and insurance.

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9. Your health will change

Cities are absolutely full of health risks. To give just one example: air pollution from higher vehicle traffic in cities has been associated with higher incidence of lung cancer. Long-term city dwellers are generally at greater risk of lung cancer diagnosis.

This is by no means the full picture, and the effect of cities on residents’ health is likely favorable overall. Research by Stanford economist Raj Chetty has demonstrated a strong relationship between income levels and longevity. That analysis has also revealed that urban environments can raise life expectancy for a population, particularly among an area’s lower-income residents.

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10. Enjoy amenities around the clock

With enough disposable income, virtually any desire can be met in a big city — and at any time of the day. Though New York City is the one nicknamed The City That Never Sleeps, round-the-clock services is a characteristic of many U.S. metropolitan areas.