Over at a Shot in the Dark, Mitch Berger expounds on the good vs. not-so-good parts of living in the city, and gets a spirited response from the from the suburbanites at Freedom Dogs and the Fraters', with the Warrior Monk chiming in from Minneapolis.
Since I never pass up opportunities to spout an opinion that no one will ever read on a subject that I only have passing familiarity with, here's how I resolved the dilemma. I work in Eagan, but when I finally decided to buy a home and started looking there, it became rather obvious that I would be living somewhere else (the laughter from my real estate agent when I mentioned the price I could afford and Eagan in the same breath was my first clue). I ended up looking at the places in the first ring suburbs and in St. Paul. Minneapolis was ruled out immediately because I was pretty sure the city government there would drive me insane, and because the taxes there were rather a lot higher than in St Paul and the 'burbs. The northern 'burbs were affordable, if I was willing to drive an hour each way to work, and the communities on the south side of the river were higher priced than I could pay.
With some trepidation I started looking in St. Paul becuase there were homes there with prices that I could almost afford. After looking at various homes on the East Side I ended up in a modest three bedroom house near 3M that is close to quite a few amenities and was under 200K. So in a word, price was the controlling factor. The neighborhood is actually kind of a nice compromise between the 'real' city and the suburbs, being at the edge of Maplewood but only a 20 minute bus ride to downtown, with shopping, parks, and a library in walking distance. The lots are smaller but that just means less yard work. And I don't even have any bullet holes in the walls... .