Things you only know if you grew up in the suburbs

Let’s face it: no one in their right mind would choose to grow up in the paved, semi-detached equivalent of own-brand Coca-Cola. No one voluntarily sacrifices a cool cosmopolitan back story in favour of Netflix and bus stations. No kid chooses suburbia: home of charity shops, grumpy cats and uncertain parents who, torn between the bright lights of the city and the fresh air of the countryside, opted for… er, neither.

But if these are your parents, and you are that suburban kid, here’s what you already know.

There will be four hairdressers, 25 charity shops and four kebab shops

But no newsagents or post office. Because who needs milk, newspapers or stamps when you have a wardrobe full of cast offs and really great hair?

Everything is just a bit too far to walk

Tesco, your mates, the cinema: you name it, if it’s worth getting to, the chances are it’ll be the sort of distance you can’t do by foot. Except you know asking your ‘rents to run you there is a waste of your unspoken ‘car lifts ration’. You could cycle but, meh. So you sit at home in a grump instead, until you’ve spent so long thinking about that bar of Dairy Milk/gossip/film/train ride to somewhere cooler, you might as well just have walked.

There are so many estate agents you start to wonder if you’re missing something

If there’s some banging secret your suburb has been keeping from you all these years, but which has brought home-buying adults running. The reality is that good mortgage rates, reliable transport networks and good local schools are the grown up equivalents of a 2-for-1 Ben and Jerry’s binge.

You dread the ‘so where have you come from?’ question on holiday

…and you’re not sure what’s worse: when they’ve heard of where you’re from, or when they haven’t. Early on you learn that the best way to handle this is to adapt where you’re from to who you’re speaking to, such as: Watford for the football fans, Harrow on the Hill for the posh, Hertfordshire for the country folk and a simple ‘ummm, London’ for those who know basically nothing about the UK.

You are the ultimate everywoman

The advantage of being from the ’burbs, you discover later, is that you’re able to swing with the city slickers, dig with the farmers, josh with the Jack Wills, joke with the average Joe and appeal to everyone else in between.

Your parents’ childhood homes were at least 10, if not 10,000 times more exciting

Making it all the more baffling that they decided to bring you up in a place where culture is an ASK Italian, history is a war memorial and leisure is a paddling pool with plasters floating in it. Were Edinburgh’s rolling Pentland hills not good enough for me, Dad? Did the seaside get you down, Mum? Was the excitement of museums and galleries and carnivals and daily swims, rounders, camping and bonfires too much to bear?

Starbucks/Costa/equivalent coffee shop opens and life is NEVER THE SAME

Omg race you to the red cups.

You get overexcited when you discover a celebrity who grew up in suburbia

Because you always assumed an interesting back story was a precondition of fame.

If they’re not driving a Volvo or an Audi estate, they clearly don’t live here

Maybe it’s the celebrity, come back to visit their mum?

Going to the nearest town is a MASSIVE deal

It demands careful outfit consideration, a full face of makeup and a dedicated WhatsApp group to plan it all.

You’ll grow to love it and you will never, ever be able to put your finger on why

As poet Philip Larkin once famously wrote, ‘Nothing, like something, happens anywhere’


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