I’d called 11 houses home by the age of ten. Some were as far from the city as Albury and Warrnambool; others as close as Richmond and Northcote.
My favourite by far was the light-filled, mid-century house where I spent the best of my teenage years. It was in an inner-urban area – a sort of ‘sweet spot’ for city living, with green space, bustling cafes, a mixed community and pretty much everything I needed within 20 minutes of home.
I could walk to school in 15, grab a frozen yoghurt from down the road in ten. I could ride to my mate’s in five and to the gym in even less. I could jump on a tram or train on my street, a bus around the corner, and within half an hour I had easy access to the CBD and the breadth of Melbourne’s galleries, theatres and restaurants.
When my friends and I got wind of something that caught our interest, we’d just venture into the city to investigate. White Night? Jump on the tram. The latest artisanal donut place? A quick train ride and we’re there. The newest cool restaurant in Chinatown? See you in 30!
I know now that growing up inner-urban gave me the freedom to explore the city as I grew my independence. After a full day’s immersion in the cultural dynamism of the city’s streets I could home to a sanctuary of space, a place where I could lie in the sun in my backyard, take our dog for a walk to the huge, green park 10 minutes away – and live in a two-storey house with our family of six.
“I envision cities that are greener, cleaner and furnished with sustainable transport options to support a rapidly growing urban population. I imagine more sky gardens and solar panels, and less cars on the road.“
To me, it felt like the best of both worlds – but I know not everyone has the financial or familial luxury of this experience. According to my parents, we kids cost lots of money, and take up lots of space, and chew out lots of time. It makes me think about how I might raise my own kids, if I have them, given the world’s current climate – both literally and figuratively.
I don’t know what the future of city living will look like, but I imagine it will be much different to now. I envision cities that are greener, cleaner and furnished with sustainable transport options to support a rapidly growing urban population. I imagine more sky gardens and solar panels, and less cars on the road. I want to see more sunlight and open spaces, less grey concrete slabs and shadows.
I hope the children of the future are raised in inner-urban areas so they are able to grow, learn and thrive in a diverse community in close proximity to the city, whilst also enjoying the benefits of having room to breathe, on green grass, under a blue sky: not constantly surrounded by skyscrapers, but with the choice to be, only a short commute away, if they so desire.
As for myself, I don’t know how many more houses I’ll live in – but I will always be grateful that I was raised so close to the city.
Harriet Grummet is an 18-year-old student from Melbourne, Australia, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne with a focus on philosophy, reason and creative writing. Harriet graduated from Caulfield Grammar in 2019 where she was school Debating Co-Captain, held senior leadership positions and received multiple awards for academic achievement, music, and school service. Harriet has a passion for solving problems, from word games to global issues, and hopes to one day write her own book.
She was chosen as the student representative for Right Angle’s inaugural Place Debate in March 2020.
All images courtesy of the author.