Shows like Million Dollar Listings are fun and all -- but, like, who can relate? The new Discovery Health show Urban Suburban might represent a more realistic real estate conundrum for most people: a real-life version of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, where homebuyers have to decide between settling down in suburbia or the big city.
Two real estate agents named Phil DuMoulin and Sarah Daniels (who are also brother and sister!) are polar opposites when it comes to what kind of properties they recommend for their clients. He likes the hustle and bustle of city living and thinks that urban environments have more to offer. She likes the idyllic tranquility of suburban life and says she chose her current home based on closet space. Each week they visit a different city and help a family find the city/country home of their dreams.
It's a familiar narrative, of course: couples get married, have kids and abandon the city for the more family-friendly suburbs. But this is a trend that's already being reversed: more people are moving back into cities or choosing to stay and raise their families in urban neighbourhoods.
What worried me is that the dichotomy between the two properties seemed unfairly exaggerated (I know, it is reality TV). The show categorises "urban" as sleek new high-rise apartment developments, but, in the real world, it really doesn't have to be so extreme. There are plenty of walkable neighbourhoods with houses and yards in the heart of major cities.
But with the battling siblings advocating for density vs driveways, the whole point of the show is that -- however artificial the division might be -- you're forced to choose. Wouldn't it be more likely to help a couple who was, say, dead set on moving to the suburbs to see some possible benefits for staying in-town? Or is that more about a state of mind? And would that still make good television? Are we really destined to become either Urban or Suburban? [Urban Suburban]