5 Ways Living in a Large City has its Advantages for People With Physical Disabilities

Contrary to popular belief, people with disabilities, in fact, can and do live independently. Just recently, someone said to me, “Well, you have personal assistants helping you, that’s not living independently.” This statement triggered me to second guess myself claiming to live on my own since I moved out of my parent’s house when I started college 6 years ago. If having personal assistants help me with my personal care negates the fact that I do everything a independent adult does with some help, that would mean no one with a disability lives “independently.” I tend to hang myself up on context and certain words. Why am I hanging up on the word independent? Well, because in a world full of ableism and feelings of inadequacy that people with disabilities have to navigate through, I feel as though we cling on to our independence for dear life, at least I do. That’s when I realized I do live independently. I do every single thing anyone who lives on their own does: pays bills, eats too much pizza, waits until the last minute to do laundry, and overdraws my accounts in the name of Taco Tuesday. The only difference is, someone helps me.

Now that we’ve established that I do live independently, I want to talk to you about some advantages of living independently in a big city, with a disability. I receive the most messages from other individuals with disabilities asking me how I moved out and live on my own. I’m here to give you a few advantages I’ve found that living in a big city has given me as a person with a physical disability.

1. Your independence is increased exponentially transportation wise then when living in a rural area. 

I live in Chicago, so I’ll strictly be speaking about advantages in terms of myself experiencing these advantages here in the Windy City. I used to live in the suburbs and had to rely on a person to drive my accessible van to get from A to B which quite frankly, sucks. I rely on people for most aspects of my life so when I moved to the city, being able to have the freedom to go where I want when I want was refreshing as ever. In Chicago, there are accessible Ubers and Lyfts available anytime any day of the week. In case it interests you, I’m unapologetically proud to say I have a 4.98 Uber rating. Probably because I haven’t ran over any of my drivers on accident, yet. I just hop in and go where I need. Chicago also has accessible trains and buses. I’m less familiar with the public transit system, though (suburban white privilege, I suppose and my lack of general directional awareness).

2. Everything is so close

I can walk to pretty much anything I’d ever need. If you cannot afford to be chauffeured all over the city with an Uber, you can go on foot, or wheel, to pretty much anywhere. 

3. Great medical care

As a person with a disability, having good medical care is very high on my list of priorities. It’s no secret that living in a large city yields much easier access to medical care with more specialists that you might need.

4. More accessibility

Chicago still has its fair share of accessible-izing to do (yes I just made that word). But when living in a big city there’s always going to be plenty of accessible places to go. That might be more difficult to come by in a rural town.

5. Cities never sleep

If you’re a hermit, maybe you enjoy the reclusive atmosphere of living in a small town. Hell, I cherish my alone time and enjoy being away from the outside world more often then I’d like to admit. However, living in a large city means there’s always people around.. to help. If I’m going into a Walgreens and need the door opened, you better believe someone will be going in or out to help my open the door at pretty much anytime. Or, say I drop my phone on the ground- someone walking by can help me grab it. You might not have this luxury in a small town. 

Living independently when you have a physical disability has posed several challenges, the biggest being managing my personal care assistants. It has also been the biggest and most rewarding adventure I’ve experienced and I think everyone with a disability can and should give it a try. I hope these tips can bring you one step closer to navigating the crazy adventure of living independently with a disability. 

My Instagram: wheelchair_rapunzel

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Alex DzimitowiczComment