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City dwellers, how do you do it?

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  • City dwellers, how do you do it?

    With graduation being just a mere 8 months away, I've spent the past couple of lazy Sundays researching places to live and firms to work for. I'm an east coast girl through and through (although sometimes I have spats of moving to California or Colorado), and I've discovered that most jobs of my profession (graphic design) lie in the city... and I have to say, I love cities... their art, culture, food, and, of course, the energy. What's not to love?

    However, I do worry about striking a balance between career and riding. I don't want to do anything large scale, but I do want to enjoy my horse and be a fairly competitive Training level pair one day. My ultimate goal is to do a classic Prelim event, but that can be a long, long, long time away. (And FWIW, I don't actively own my own horse right now so it's not a pressing commitment. I plan on leasing for a couple years before making a purchase.)

    So, I need to ask: how do you balance it? Fighting rush hour, finding fair priced board, finding the time? Do you choose to commute to work and live out by the barn? Maybe have day trips when you feel like you need a 'city day'?

  • #2
    It's kind of an ongoing battle. Working your schedule around rush hour, your prior work commitments, finding time at either the beginning of the day (way before morning commute and trying to avoid that) or at the end of the day (with the possibility of losing daylight.)

    Especially working the normal 8-5 job in the city, it's tough.

    My mare and kids pony have taken to the sidelines since a move to the city in the upper midwest. And it's not even THAT much of a "city" in comparison to NYC, LA...


    • #3
      I am lucky in having a job that allows me flexibility as the trade-off for some very long work hours. I can leave home at 5:00 am, get to the barn, ride and be back at work by 8:30. I can be at the office at 5:00 am (I live less than a mile from the office), work until noonish, go out ride and be back at the office by 3:30, then work until 7pm, I can be at the office at 5:00 or 6:00, work until 3 pm and then go ride. All of these things get moved around depending on schedules, meetings, deadlines. There are days when I don't make it out, which is why it is super important to me that my horse be at an excellent full care facility.

      You need to be pretty efficient (riding early makes that easier, less folks around to chat with) and you need to be willing to give up some other stuff in your day, but it is doable. I live in center city Philly and the barn is a 50-60 minute drive. There are closer places, which I did until 2 years ago (about a 40 minute drive), but I love being out where I am now.

      This is in part more doable for me because I don't have to fight rush hour traffic, my work allows a non-rush hour approach and I walk to work so I am not driving. You could also live near the horse (my DH also works in city, so this is better for us), ride very early and head to city before rush hour or get to work before rush hour and then leave early enough to beat rush hour on the way back out.

      The other thing about finding a barn is to think not only of the distance in ideal traffic, but what the traffic patterns are. Part of the reason I like being where I am now is that despite it being a longer drive in ideal conditions, the drive is much more consistent (never less than 50 minutes, but never more than 65). At the prior barn, could make it in 35, but can not tell you how often I got trapped driving for 75-90 minutes.
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • #4
        Exactly what scubed said.

        I am 50 mins from the barn in nonrush hour. We love living in the city, I work at home and husband walks to work. BUT I have flexible schedules like scubed -- and half the time I have to be at meetings, it's out in the suburbs as that's where some of my current clients are...so, tomorrow, I have a meeting that ends at 2, and fly out on a business trip from a local airport at 6. Guess what's in between the meeting and the airport? The barn!

        Like scubed, I also have days where the whole thing falls apart and I can't make it out there.

        For these days I count on the fact that my horses are out 24-7, and they are fun easy going guys that anyone can hack. Several barnmates and friends know they can call or email me to see if either is available, and if so, they can hop on and go for a trail ride. They probably get ridden by someone else at least once a week.
        The big man -- my lost prince

        The little brother, now my main man


        • #5
          When I graduated from Auburn with a graphic design degree I got a job in Nashville. I lived in town near Vanderbilt, work at an agency just outside of downtown and drove a little less than 25 minutes to ride. It was very doable.

          It isn't that you need to give up the idea of living in a city if you don't want a 60-/+ commutes to ride you just may need to pick a city that isn't huge with a tremendous amount of sprawl to drive beyond before you get to horse areas.

          Now I actually have my own place just down the road where I used to ride when I got out of school. So I just do the traveling backwards.


          • #6
            I think it also depends on the city. I lived for many years in NYC and was unable to have any kind of horsey life during that time. There are some that manage, but it's very, very tough and very expensive. It's very hard to own a car there, so most likely you would have to rely on some kind of public transportation to commute to a horsey area and then, because the city is so expensive, you usually end up with less disposable income for something like riding. I feel that Boston would probably be more doable than NYC and smaller cities (maybe such as Harford or New Haven or another of similar size) even more so.
            -Debbie / NH

            My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


            • #7
              Originally posted by tres grey View Post
              So, I need to ask: how do you balance it? Fighting rush hour, finding fair priced board, finding the time? Do you choose to commute to work and live out by the barn? Maybe have day trips when you feel like you need a 'city day'?

              I've worked and gone to school in a few cities. I always choose to live out near the horses and commute into work/school....but that is because I dislike city life.

              I'm lucky and mostly have been able to have a flexible enough schedule to avoid rush hour....you adjust to getting up Very early. As others have said....this is KEY.

              I left the DC area because the commute was just getting consistently too long for me. No way could I have done living and riding in NYC...not with the hours my job requires.

              But I now work with about a consistent 45 minute commute (only about 60 if I do hit rush hour) ....and I live less than an hour from Philly, less than 3 hours from NYC or DC if I ever have the real urge to do something that one can only do in a large metro city I luckily have the best of both worlds...top knotch work and a top eventing community....but I'm very lucky. It all really depends on your career.
              Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jul. 31, 2011, 06:21 PM.
              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


              • #8
                flyover land bigotry

                If you set up along the Mississippi River drainage...that's the river that goes from Minnesota to New Orleans...you have big cities AND short commutes to wonderful rolling hills and green spacious riding areas, short is like less than a half hour and some places less than a half hour during rush. Most of the cities have neighborhoods in the city where you can live and walk to plentyful restaurants within a few blocks or where you live...and have a Whole Foods in the neighborhood.

                You need to plan. Find your good job. Look at a the shows or hunts or instructors or clinic sites for your sport in the region. Some are bound to be collected in an area or facility. Find a boarding and training farm near that focal point. Find a couple backups as alternatives. Then drive the route between barn and job in a few different ways during your hours to go into work and go home from work. Then look for a home on one of the drivelines. For many years I lived within walking distance of work and downtown so the real commute was to the barn, I liked that.

                Minneapolis/St Paul is the "mini" apple, but we have a lot of sprawl so commutes are longer to the barns unless you plan carefully, good shows that focus on a few locations, very good place to live if you love to clinic, not so hot if you want to find a few good hunts...we have one drag. Omaha, St Louis, Memphis, maybe Quad Cities...give a nice urban life if you choose those places to live. What has been lost forever on the East Coast is still here in the midwest...land to ride. PatO


                • #9
                  For a bunch of years, I lived in Queens (NYC), commuted to Manhattan by subway, and drove to ride on Long Island. I was half-leasing and rode 3 days a week. I was able to compete quite a bit.

                  Now I live outside of Providence. It is a very manageable city. I live a half hour from work (really 20 mins, but it takes 10 mins to get from the parking to my office). My horse lives at my house, and before I retired him, we competed lots all over New England.

                  Like others have said, choose a smaller city.


                  • #10
                    So, I need to ask: how do you balance it? Fighting rush hour, finding fair priced board, finding the time? Do you choose to commute to work and live out by the barn? Maybe have day trips when you feel like you need a 'city day'?
                    I do it here by DC, and it's... a pain! I spend a lot of time wondering if it would be easier in more manageable cities or ones with much better transportation options, given that we have some of the worst traffic there is. But this is home.

                    I live right outside the city now but used to live downtown. Take public transport to work in the morning and then home, then grab my car and dog and head to the farm a few nights a week. I think given my druthers I would telecommute and live much further out, but right now, that isn't an option. I have learned that here, where my 7 mile drive can take 40 minutes on an average day (to work), living 40 or 50 miles away simply was not for me. I can't handle that drive 2X daily.

                    I try to be as organized as I can so I can get out the door more quickly, but it's hard - a lot of time I'm home pretty late. I would suggest trying to live as close to where you will be the most often - if you're going to work 5 days a week, it might be easier to live near work. If you can set up somewhat flexible hours, it will be much easier.

                    I hear there are other cities where our issues aren't a problem and there is open land within an easy drive. Try to find those cities.
                    They're small hearts.


                    • #11
                      I commute to downtown Denver from my 5 acre farmette - it's about a 45 minute drive each way, but I miss most of the traffic. Unless it snows or there's an accident in which case I'm screwed. On snow days, I just work at home. I'm not a city girl, so I'd rather drive into town, and have my horses in the backyard. My husband has his own engineering firm and works out of the house, so he loves it. And every day it's like coming home to paradise.
                      where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?


                      • #12
                        I live in the middle of the city and love it. I bike/walk to work (yes, all year around... its not very far) and look forward to my commute every day. Really! I work fairly typical hours w/ occasional OT. After work, I bike home, organize and usually throw the dogs in the car and head out to the barn (about an hour). Traffic isn't bad as I take a toll road, but that commute does cost me more. On the way home, I take a more local route since I don't have to worry about traffic heading into the city in the evening.

                        I love living in a walkable neighborhood and being able to walk, bike or use public trans to get to friends' homes and events. For whatever reason, the drive out to the barn doesn't bother me, perhaps because I look forward to it. But when I had to drive to work every day, it really took its toll and I used to dread getting into the car even when it was just to head out to the barn.


                        • #13
                          Well I think there are a lot of variables involved. You also have to consider where your salary will afford you to live in relation to your job and where you choose to ride/board your horse. I too live in the DC metro area and while traffic can and often is a nightmare the area is also blessed with a fairly large area of really good riding facilities- many within 1 hours drive from DC. I used to have it great. I moved to be closer to my job and my horse - each was a 20 minute commute perfect. 20 minutes to work, 20 minutes from work to barn, and 20 minutes from barn to home. But I was layed off from that job and now work in VA, horse and I live in MD. So commute to/from work has practically doubled. I'm keeping an eye out for job closer to home, not just from a riding point of view but gas + time in car is killing me.

                          On the plus side many companies are opting for more telecommuting for their employees and/or hoteling to keep their overhead costs down. So you might find yourself w/a job that allows you greater flexibility with your work schedule. Nearly everyone but me has a flexible work schedule. My company apparently does not believe in teleworking


                          • #14
                            Some cities it is very doable. I would hate to attempt it in one of the big, sprawling, high-traffic cities.... DC, NY, Atlanta..... but Charlotte, NC, for instance, is a cinch. Boston, MA was kind of rough but doable....

                            Third Charm Event Team


                            • #15
                              I'll mainly echo what many have said, have a plan. it sounds like you wont be dealing with owning/maintaining a farm so you save some time there. I bought a small farm last year and in a twist of irony, went from telecommuting to commuting at the same time. I feel like I have less time for riding. Sucks, but at least its only 30 min drive one way and watching the horses in the early morning or evening is food for the soul*.

                              If possible, research the smaller cities for work. The COL is better, the pace can be more relaxed, and many smaller cities are having growth in downtown attractions. Here in Greenville they shut down the main street Friday night for music all summer long. The city hosts a symphony, a 20,000 seat arena (Bruce Springsteen rocked the joint two years ago), theater, fine dining and of course some great riding areas. I bet there are other cites just like that depending on where you want to go. There are moments when I wish my industry would get into the 21st century and embrace telcommute (I'm a software developer...cubicle? Really?), but till then I work it out. In the winter I rigged up my own lights so I can get some practice in after work, but without a sand arena the ground can be hard on the legs so we'll travel on the weekends more to local centers.

                              Best of luck!

                              * The other morning I am watering the troughs. Sterling comes up to take a drink. The water is swirling and bubbling around his lips. Next thing I see he is splashing and smacking his lips in the water, tossing his head up and down and making slurping noises. He does this for at least a minute. It was to funny and he was giving me a great chuckle. These moments I love and remember when I look at the long long list of chores and sigh saying "I bought this place because?".


                              • #16
                                Well not all cities are created equal.

                                I live about 20 minutes outside San Francisco. Living IN the city and riding is hard, but living somewhere along a BART route is not. There is a ton of open space in the East Bay, and lots of stables in Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Castro Valley, (all of which have BART stations) and all around all the regional parklands.

                                I live 10 minutes from BART, 10 minutes from my barn, and my barn is 10 minutes from BART. I also have a 10 minute ride on BART from my station to my office.

                                So, if one has a job in downtown San Francisco and lives on the BART train between SF-Concord or SF-Pleasanton, there is a huge selection of barns to board at just minutes from the station. There's even several event trainers and a small XC course in the Pleasanton-Castro Valley area.

                                Good luck!

                                Oh, and I didn't mention the Valley, but of course in the Palo Alto/Woodside area there are a lot of stables, and the Woodside Horsepark that has many events through Advanced.

                                The only bummer over there is the price, housing and stabling is nearly DOUBLE the East Bay, and getting into the city (SF proper) can be tough.
                                On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                                • #17
                                  If you are thinking Colorado, think Denver. We live 15 minutes from downtown and the horses are 10 minutes from our apartment. There are barns everywhere in whatever discipline you like. English is more common than western though.


                                  • #18
                                    I know NYC area has a great extended commuter rail system in adition to their fab subway system, so as long as you live near a metro station you're all set.

                                    That said, even barns that are a 2 hour drive from the city are EXPENSIVE - they're nearly all full service because that's what the market wants, and the cheapest I was able to find for board was $1200 a month. That said, it would be a great place to part-board, becuase the people who CAN afford horses generally have quality horses. Yes, you're paying as much for the PB as you might boarding in other cities, but if you love the city and get a great job it's worth it.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm another San Franciscan. My Portola Valley barn is 30 minutes from my house, and I'm lucky enough to have a couple of fellow clients to carpool with on weekends.

                                      Might be worth noting that one of my trainers is also a graphic designer...


                                      • #20
                                        I haven't yet graduated, but I do have a real full-time job during the summer in Northern Virginia, just outside DC, so I may be able to help some (plus I grew up here)

                                        Like scubed said, flexible hours really help.

                                        Board either near your house or near your work (or close to the route there/back), cuts down on time.

                                        Fighting rush hour- I don't have to! If at all possible, live somewhere where you'll be driving against traffic to go to work (and thus against traffic leaving work ).

                                        I got lucky enough that I live in the "city" and work "outside" the city, so I get to drive to work with no traffic, while people on the other side of the highway are poking along.

                                        And as far as "fair priced board"... it doesn't exist here Dirt cheap is considered paying under $600/mo for full care, and it can run over $1000/mo some places. At school in NY I pay $450/mo. On the other hand, people also make more $ here. My dad likes to say he though Disney was expensive until he moved here, now it's just par for the course