The other day, I was reading an article in "The New Yorker" - (it was the fiction one. And no, I am not that smart - someone left it at my house....) and it brought something to my attention that I often think about but rarely address: the suburbs. Obviously, every city is different, but in my agnostic/hipster/liberal surroundings, this movement thinks of the suburbs as dreary and uncool. As stated in the article, these anti-suburban folks decided that the 'burbs are a place to joke about and not a place to aspire to."
Clearly, I live down town. So do all of my closest friends. If I choose to "settle down" I wouldn't stay down town. I don't want to have to take an elevator to lug everything, including a stroller. And the trend here does seem to be to choose a neighborhood when it's "time."
But, there is something so very different about the "burbs" in Madison. The area just east of me is a melting pot along the lake. Known for being "diverse," it is not diverse in the sense that you are thinking of. It is diverse such as there are gays/straights/young/old/grad students/professors. As far as I can see, the only ethnicity over there are the adopted children by single sex parents. Maybe it is a suburb, but it is still Madison proper and there is nothing about it that appears to be like Wisteria Lane.
Now, where my cousins were raised and where my sister and brother-in-law live - that is also Madison proper. Although it has sidewalks and friendly neighbors, it still doesn't remind me of "Desperate Housewives" in any way. You can walk to bars/restaurants/coffee shops, as you pretty much can in any of the Madison proper "suburbs." So, in my mind, there is nothing nerdy or uncool about a suburb here.
I think my problem would be which one to choose. As I have run through a considerable amount of the suburbs in Madison, they are all beautiful and seem to be holding their value, as far as real estate is concerned. With everything so accessible, I suppose you would have to boil it down to the school systems which I know very little about.