Is city life easier for people on the spectrum?

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Blue Jay
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28 Apr 2014, 11:41 am

Finally, at the ripe age of 36, I have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum. I always knew something wasn't right with me and it's only been within the past year or so that it was brought to my attention that I may have Asperger's.

Thing is, I always chalked up my inability to relate to others to the fact that I've never lived in the "right places". I've always lived in these inbred hick towns where I wouldn't be able to relate to anybody even if I WANTED to. I always thought I'd thrive better in a larger city. Because let's face it, I'm too cultured, hip, and intelligent for small towns. I've come across Aspie's who prefer less populated places precisely so that they don't have to deal with so many people. But my opinion is: no matter where you go, even if you're a hermit hacking it with the Kodiaks in Alaska, you're going to have to deal with SOMEBODY. And I'd rather deal with somebody's who have had some culture, tolerance, and education (and by that I don't mean a piece of paper). And those are far more likely to be found in a larger city.

I've thought about Philly or DC as places to move.


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28 Apr 2014, 12:00 pm

I currently live around Denver colorado and in some ways its easier than living in more rural areas...for instance I don't drive because I'm worried my anxiety issues, sensory issues and fact that sometimes I space out even when making an effort to pay attention and stay focused on things could cause problems. But there are buses and lightrail trains(comparable to a subway I guess but above ground), so that helps with getting places. Also there are more people, so more variety of different people so better chances of perhaps meeting people you would get along with. Its possible to go somewhere in public and just sit there quietly and someone else might initiate interaction...I have a hard time doing that but if someone starts talking to me I can hold a conversation though there is no guarantee anyone who comes up to you is going to be someone you want to be around.

Also though its rather noisy with all the cars, and trains honking horns late at night and things that can be annoying if you have sensory issues, luckily there isn't a lot of noise from cars on the street where I live. And another sort of downside is more chances of running into cops, some of them harrass people and such so I tend to worry about ending up in a situation like that, when I lived in the mountains there where all kinds of places you had to walk to get to and hang out and not much chance of that. So there are up sides and downsides to it.

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28 Apr 2014, 1:08 pm

I've lived in a small town for most of my life but before that I lived in the city and I hated moving away from it because of some of those reasons you mentioned, there were more people in the city so it was easier for me to find like-minded people or friends, it was also easier to blend into the background in a larger city with more people, and if you didn't like someone it was much easier to avoid them. I did grow up there though so I can't tell you about the sensory issues, the sounds didn't effect me but I wonder after spending so many years away from the city my senses might not be able to handle it as well anymore, It may be overwhelming at first, much like when I moved into the smaller town the sound of nothing and the lack of light pollution was unnerving to me.


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28 Apr 2014, 1:28 pm

I have lived my whole life in medium sized Canadian cities and I would going to say "no" but I remembered that contrary to what I was warned about, I got along GREAT in Toronto when I visited last. It's probably due to the multicultural nature of the city and that I am not blinded by class or race like many people I know. I found people generally warm and friendly to my surprise and everyone seemed to open up to me like I was their long lost friend. I didn't stick to just the tourist areas either so it wasn't a case of fake friendliness. Couldn't get over how peaceful and calm the city was late at night too: quite a surprise to me.

Don't think I would want to live there though. WAY too many people for my liking!


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28 Apr 2014, 3:27 pm

I think either way has an upside and a downside. I've lived in rural Georgia all my life, not even in town but about 6 miles outside the nearest very small town. I dislike it for exactly the reasons you said. I don't know anyone around here I can really relate to, and there isn't much to do out here anyway. Growing up I always thought I would move far away, like outside of the US(!). But going into my 20's I felt like I was not remotely prepared to live on my own if I moved away. Then I was able to move next door to my parents and have my own place and that kind of settled the question.

Also I've realized over the years, as I have met lots of people from other places that I had more in common with, that I didn't necessarily enjoy being around those people that much more than the hicks and rednecks I grew up with. In fact I find a lot of people who are not from around here to be snobby or pretentious or just annoying in some other way I can't put my finger on. It's hard to define what it is that makes me really like someone or want to spend time with them. And it's rare that I really hit it off with someone that way...and when I do, I just want to be with that person, not hang out with a lot of other people.

I think even if I did live in a place where it was easier to meet people, and easier to go out and do things socially, I would get tired of it. At some point I would want to get away from it...hell, I'd probably be fleeing to some remote rural place on weekends. So I'd be right back where I started.

What I do wish though is that I lived 5-10 minutes outside of a larger town, instead of small one, so it would be easier to go out and do things. The small towns closest to me in all directions have nothing to offer. It's at least a half hour drive to what I consider to be civilization, and even that is pretty limited. When I come home from work, I usually don't want to go out and drive to town again the same day, especially if it would mean getting home late in the evening. That makes me even more reclusive than I am to begin with.

My ideal place to live would probably be a quiet village community on the outskirts of a major city, that would have lots of things to do in walking distance of my house.


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28 Apr 2014, 5:29 pm

The traffic, the number of people, the randomness and constant input of second by second changes...

Too much for me.

I don't do well in cities.

The OP seems to have an attitude, one that says "I'm better than others", and is using that as a shield against the inputs of a city.

I'm certain unless the OP is lacking totally in sensory issues, he'd do better away from a city environment, but his view of small town people is making him not want to be there.

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You seem to have both Aspie and neurotypical traits

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28 Apr 2014, 6:53 pm

i wouldn't like it. even living in the suburbs is annoying. the cars never stop zooming by.

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28 Apr 2014, 6:54 pm

Hmmmmm a mixed bag really. I have to say however that you should stay in a hotel or spend a few nights at a friends' house in order to ascertain whether you can handle it. Living in the middle of London would NOT be pleasant. The smell the noise etc. You need to live on the suburbs where the cultural crucible spills over from the city without the smog and rotting bodily fluid. City dwellers are aso notoriously unforgiving

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28 Apr 2014, 6:58 pm

While I've seen some small towns I would not want to live in, I think it's a broad stroke to paint them all the same way.

I have too many sensory issues with functioning in busy environments to live in a city. I have done it and I hid in my apartment most of the time because going out was too overwhelming.
Public transportation and me are not friends. People and me are not friends.

Just because some people prefer the company of nature doesn't make them uneducated or a hick. FWIW, I have all my teeth and two college degrees.


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28 Apr 2014, 7:06 pm

I live in New York City (though in a rather "suburban" part of Queens).

I believe people with Asperger's could get along quite well in places that have a high population of "hipsters" and other weird types. Some of these people, at least, have interests as eclectic and "out there" as some who are Aspergian. There's also lots of computer programmers amongst this population. Aspergians would stand out as much--owing to the sheer numbers and varieties of people who reside within these neighborhoods. The problem: these days, these neighborhoods tend to be rather expensive. One could live in outer Queens, and "commute" to the eclectic-type areas.

In small towns, people tend to be insular and suspicious of those whom they perceive as different. Adam Lanza, frankly, doesn't help. It's possible that some people, especially those who are insular and don't get out much, might associate Asperger's with Lanza, since he was, apparently, diagnosed with Asperger's.

I could understand how one could be aggravated by traffic and movements of people. I don't like driving in Manhattan for that reason--it's just too confusing.

I'm a lifelong and proud New Yorker--but I'd love to move to a small town and just hang out for a long time at a local burger joint, reading the newspaper and observing (yet not having to talk to) people.

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28 Apr 2014, 7:26 pm

I grew up in a small-ish town (110k), lived in a village in high school, went to college in a town of the same size as my home town, and then worked in a major international city only to return to a medium town (~200k).

Commuting in the city took a huge toll on me. Sensory overload before I even got to work in the morning. I would sometimes go to work two hours early only so that I didn't have to sit in the subway train during rush hour. Also, while there certainly are more social opportunities in a major city, I feel like that wasn't all that helpful. The reason I say that is simple: everyone there knows they live in a sea of interesting people so unless you really hit it off with someone, they will not bother to make plans a second time if the first time wasn't extremely fun because they can find new, cooler, more entertaining friends. In my current town, which is quite academic, people are a bit more keen on staying in touch if you get along as there aren't too many people around, especially not single people in their 30s who aren't looking to hook up or date. Weirdly enough, that has been my ticket to meeting some cool people: single NTs in their 30s who are fed up with being the odd one out at couples' parties or nights out with their childhood friends and having to spend the whole evening listening to stories about baby food and preschool politics.


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28 Apr 2014, 8:28 pm

I prefer to live in a wooded more natural area with land and natural beauty, preferably close to a ski resort and a lake or beach with hiking, biking, and horse riding trails. But I don't want to be too far from the city so that when I need to get things I can get them quickly and easily. I want to be secluded enough to not have to deal with city noise and city people and roaches but close enough to go buy groceries or whatever without driving too far.

But to answer the title question, life in the city can be torture for me. It's mostly because of the noise. The incessant lights and lack of natural darkness lit only by the moon and stars can be stressful for me too sometimes. I love camping because it gives me a break from the sensory issues of the city. I love the natural noises, birds, crickets, frogs, water and wind and the natural lights, sunlight, moon and starlights but the man made stuff really overloads me. I relish just sitting by a campfire day or night.

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28 Apr 2014, 9:04 pm

I actually fare better in rural, small areas...I find cities harder to handle because of all the crowds, racket, weird smells, people asking you for money/directions, etc. I went to New York City on a school trip a few years ago and got really overwhelmed really fast. I find in more rural areas, people just tend to be more friendly, they look out for one another, they aren't as concerned with accelerating up the corporate/social ladders as fast as just feels "safer" to me.

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28 Apr 2014, 9:48 pm

Hell no.

Too chaotic.


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29 Apr 2014, 12:10 am

A part of me has always been attracted to cities. Everything within reach, a fascinating road structure and public transport network, all the book shops and museums I could ever want etc. I spent a lot of my teenage years scouring property ads for Manhattan (I was in Europe) and drawing layouts for my dream one bed flat I wanted to live in.

However, the noise, constant onslaught of people and so forth do take their toll and I know deep down that living semi rurally is much healthier for me, particularly now I started driving again.

Last edited by Noetic on 29 Apr 2014, 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.


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29 Apr 2014, 12:10 am

Having live most my life in large cities, I will never do it by choice again.

Right now am living in a town of 6000 - 8000 people. Farming community. Rural. We have everything here.

Peace and quiet.

Modern hospital with emergency unit.

Co-Op Grocery


The Great Blue Devil (Walmart)

Police and a really good fire dept.




Dairy Queen.

The Brick.

Cambodian Tire (Canadian Tire)


Lots of churches and booze stores (these tend to go hand-in-hand) if you are into that type of thing.

Can buy 18 types of diesel powered motorized transport here.


A rather large neurodiverse community here which I have yet to tap into. The town caters to said community by providing jobs, programs, skills training, housing, care etc etc.

The City

Sure the city has all of these things, less the peace and quiet.

The house in the city vibrated.




The non-stop din that I could never tune out or shut off.

All the people with their "Me FIRST!! !!" attitudes.

Horrible traffic on horrible roads.

High taxes that get you nothing.

The place is dirty and full of crime. Truly a den of scum and villainy. I watched someone get stabbed on the light rail transit train, ON MY LAP!! !! No joke. Coming home from closing work, two really really drunks guys get into it on the train RIGHT beside me. One guy knocked the other onto my lap and as I am freaking out trying to get this guy off me his buddy stabs him three times. How I walked off that train with the same amount of holes as I walked on with is amazing.

I hate the city. All of them.

"Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal"

Last edited by MarthaCannary on 30 Apr 2014, 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.