I grew up rural and live urban (albeit a small Canadian city), so I get the appeal both ways. And I think the perfect cities have to prioritize shared green space (my city has some nice big green spaces that are quite central, and lots of peripheral parks).
Not many cities like that in the US. Houston, where I live, supposedly has more square miles of park than any other city in the country, but the city sprawl is so enormous (a circle with a diameter of 20–30 miles, more or less) you don’t get the feeling that there’s any park at all, outside of the two major ones.
Telecommuting certainly helps, because it reduces or eliminates the commute-based carbon footprint that come with suburban and rural living. And certainly we can make houses with lower carbon footprints, etc. With all of the right pieces in place suburban and rural living doesn’t have to be so carbon intensive.
See, this is what I think ultimately occurs:
- Increases in the price of housing per square foot (often driven by building codes which kick up the cost to add safety and environmental features) start returning sanity to surburban housing. Instead of families of three living in 1000+ sq/ft per person, we drop back to a still comfortable but more sane 600-750 sq/ft. Obviously heating and cooling costs and consumption drop as well.
- The AV business is driven (pun intended) to some extent by the fact that AVs will be electric. (Hopefully, the plants generating all this additional energy used to charge will be cleaner as well).
- Telecommuting continues to tick up incrementally, reducing the number of commute days downwards.
- More and more houses will be designed to go off-grid, or at least have their own supplemental generation facilities. The only thing today that prevents every new house from having a solar array on the roof is cost. Those prices will come down, eventually, to the point where it would be relatively foolish not to pay the extra 10–15 grand for the house (it’s all mortgaged anyway) to get the solar system.
Now, that’s a 25–75 year timeline to get there, especially down here, where half the public (including me) is allergic to government trying to increase the rapidity of this transition. But we will get there. It’s inevitable.
Hopefully we can tackle all of these things together. If I had my perfect setting it would be a fairly rural/suburban home with a 20 minute commute to an urban centre. Which I pretty much can do now where I live.
Same here, although I’m a bit closer to my urban center than you. However, I’m pushing towards my retirement age, and I want a rural retirement with a lot of travel. :-)