Suburbs or the City?

So, to be honest, I think we have already made our decision:  Suburbs.  I know, anti-climactic to tell you right away after that post title.

However, now that we have finally stopped flip-flopping (Bet you were hoping to never hear that term again after the past two Presidential Elections, right?) and decided on the suburbs, I am anxious.  Mostly because many (alright, almost all) of the moms I speak to are deliberately and unwaveringly choosing to raise their kids in the city.  New York City, to be exact.  I clarify because let me tell you, raising kids in this city is just a tad bit different than doing it in most other cities.  In ways good and bad.

After listening to ‘city moms’ I start to wonder…

Will I get bored in the suburbs?  Will I start drinking Pinot Grigio like it’s water and spend my days as a hazy, ‘slurry’ version of myself?  Will my kids become ignorant, unaware brats?  Will I really be good enough about bringing them into the city often to enjoy cultural events and sites?  Will my husband feel trapped like a little subway rat that someone caged and won’t let return to the inspiration that is the subway…er, city?  (Hmmm, let me clarify that I am not intentionally referring to my husband as a ‘subway rat.’  That actually doesn’t accurately describe him at all.  If anything, he is much more ‘handsome lion’.  I was just running with the whole ‘trapped, mouse/rat, city/burbs’ analogy.)  Will any of us be able to sleep at night without sirens, car alarms, horns honking and the variety of insane/drunk people yelling at 3 am?  Will I fit in with the other suburban moms?  (I can’t scrapbook to save my life, I refuse to drive anything the size of an army tank and my husband has 3 rules that I must abide by to retain his undying love and affection: Number one is NO Capri Pants.  Ever.)  Will my kids know how to correctly eat a slice of pizza pie?  Will we all suffer from Chinese Food Delivery Withdrawal?

Will we regret it and have to come crawling back to a 3 story walk-up with our tails between our legs up all three flights?

Maybe.

But then there are things that excite me about moving *just outside* of the city…

Walking out my front door when we need to go somewhere. (i.e. Instead of wrangling two kids and all of their ‘stuff’ down three flights of stairs just to get outside.)  Knowing that we are all breathing in somewhat cleaner air.  Driving the kids to school or even walking with them, but certainly not doing the ‘subway schlep’ with a stroller every day.  Hearing crickets and birds in the morning instead of trash trucks and car alarms. (Seriously, with the amount of car alarms that go off on our street you would think a car has actually being stolen at some point.  Never happens.  I am considering stealing one just so that I can at least feel like all of these hours of alarms have been worth something.)

And one of the main reasons I want to move just outside of Manhattan?

A yard.

I know yards exist in Manhattan.  I am aware.  In addition, I am pretty sure miniature pet giraffes exist here.  As do homes with car garages inside of them.

That doesn’t mean we can afford any of those things.

And I dream of being able to say to my boys, “Go play in the back yard!  I will tell you when it’s time to come in for dinner.” Seriously, I daydream about that.  (Time for a Mommy Spa-cation, perhaps?)

Thankfully, someone is doing something to help me believe that living in the suburbs really is the right choice for us:  CSN Stores.  I know, random.  I totally haven’t mentioned this friend before.  But right now, CSN Stores is my best friend and the one whispering positivity in my ear as all of my NYC Mommy Friends go on and on about how amazing it is to raise your children in the city and Why On Earth Would You Raise Them Anywhere Else?!?!  The positivity they are whispering in my ear is deafening.  It is in the form of a gift to me of $45 to spend on one of their  hundreds (literally!) of sites where I see so many items that will make our future lives in the ‘burbs that much easier and better.

Um, for starters, have you ever been to the CSN Store that has swing sets for kids!?!? You need to go.  I will wait.

tap…tap…tap…

So fun, right?

Sigh…I really want the Tot Town Express Train Playground.   I mean, for Carlitos and Xavi, obviously.  Carlitos would just about keel over if he saw that in our back yard. Choo! Choo!  But I am pretty sure that is for a town park, or a school, or David Beckham’s sons or something.   I’m thinking we could actually pull off something like the Chesapeake Wood Complete Swing Set, especially with this CSN Stores dinero burning a hole in my pocket.  Do you see that rock climbing wall?  How cool is that! Actually, now that I look closer, they even have us covered if we chicken out and stay in an apartment in the city – A folding slide! What will they think of next?

They are even thinking of my marriage and how it will fare out in the ‘burbs, what with their ‘fire pits central’ store and all.  I think having a fire pit out back would help us keep our suburban marriage romantic and fresh, right?

Baby, will you put another hot dog on my stick?  And pass the marshmallows, would ya?

Annie, we are here in this daydream to be romantic.

Oh, yes, the flames are lovely, too.  And so seductive.  I know, not everything is about food. (Just everything important, that’s all.)

Oh, who am I kidding.  We all know I am not going to use this generous gift from CSN Stores to get something fun for my kids or romantic for my husband.  It is totally going toward something from their ‘wine refrigerator’ store.  (Yes, they have a whole store about wine refrigerators!)  I shall keep a beautiful wine refrigerator in my office (That I will undoubtedly have once we are in a house, rather than an apartment.  Everyone in the suburbs has an office, right?  Throw a tally on the ‘Suburbs – Pros’ side of the list.)  This might mean I should start buying wine that costs more than $5.99 a bottle.

Shoot.  I just realized that choosing that item brings me back to one of my fears about moving to the suburbs.  Oh well, I guess once I’m on my second glass I won’t remember or care why I was scared of the suburbs anyway.

***CSN Stores is compensating me with $45 to spend at their online stores.  However, the views in this post and my desire to send my kids out to the backyard to play on their very own swing set while I chug white wine and get the marshmallow-roasting sticks sharpened are in no way due to their generosity.  Also, please know that I am *probably* doing this all for you, my dear readers, and if that is so you will understand in due time.  In due time, my sweets.***

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14 Responses to Suburbs or the City?

  1. Monica says:

    When you recently wrote about foregoing your subway schlep to C’s school, I had an audible gasp–3 flights down with a stroller, etc….my personal nightmare. And can I tell you something about our backyard? So I grew up in an apartment building. It had a nice playground. My bro and I were latchkey kids and had much independence at a very young age. So when S and I were househunting he kept pushing for a “good” backyard–sizeable, flat, etc. I whined—but this place doesn’t have a great kitchen (pout) but we found a good house with a great backyard and you know what? I. Love. It. It came with a swingset(!) and it has plenty of space to run, it also has a covered porch for when it rains. When C is napping, I can bring the monitor outside and A and I can play away. We blew up a small pool for summer, we have a water table which now holds sand in it which we played in the over evening when it was a balmy 38 degrees.

    So…I vote…suburbs. in MD to be exact ;)

  2. Jess says:

    Well I have two votes. One is for Jersey City where you can do half suburbia and half city life : ). The other vote is if you do the suburbs come to NJ so I can have a playmate for whenever we give up on Jersey city and move to the full suburbs! I totally forgot you had mentioned you guys are in a walk up and I think you are in line for sainthood for schleping two kids and a stroller up and down the stairs!

    p.s love your blog it is so well written and fun!

  3. You have a pretty interesting argument for both sides. But there is something about the yard, isn’t there? I live in the burbs, and it is nice to have your own yard. And no, I don’t drink Pinot Grigio all day. It’s Chardonnay. Just kidding!! I do drink a hell of a lot of coffee, though. I say go with your gut. And CSN rocks!!

  4. Monica – So jealous that you already have a house…with a yard…and a SWINGSET…and in Maryland, to boot! Sigh….

  5. Jess – Jersey City is actually on the short list, along with two other towns in Jersey. Although I have feeling we will end up in Long Island. We shall see…
    I am always open to bribes. :)
    ps. I am also open to you suggesting to the Catholic church that I should be up for sainthood!

  6. Erin – Ewwww, chardonnay?!? What’s wrong with you?! ;) Yes, coffee consumption is high here in the big city, too. Not sure that will change much. Some stability is good. :)
    And yes, CSN Stores rock!

  7. Tracey says:

    Ok, don’t be ewwwing my chardonnay. I drink it not because of the burbs but because of the children I am raising and the eldest is turning 12 in 2 weeks and I am getting OLD and I need the booze to lessen the pain. Don’t judge.

    Having never lived in the city, I cannot imagine. However, I take my suburban kids into Chicago (we’re 45 minutes out) ALL THE TIME and the things I love most about the burbs cannot be replicated in the city. What are they? Ahem.

    1. Yard. You’ve already covered this. But you forget that the yard lessens the noise level in your home by 457% This is invaluable to your sanity. Also, as the kids get older, they get LOUDER. This might seem impossible, but it’s a truth not often shared with moms of little ones.

    2. Free and AMPLE parking. Everywhere you go. You get turned around? Pull over and ask for help! You don’t have to find a parking meter, pull over, work your GPS while trying to avoid a meter cop, etc. I loathe the transportation issues of the city, ESPECIALLY In the winter. We hit the museums in the winter, but save all other cultural stuff for spring through fall.

    Ooh! #3 for the burbs though I said only 2. (I must have slight memory issues due to the quiet and boredom of the burbs… and the alcoholic consumption). Anyway. #3 of “What I love about the suburbs vs. raising kids in the city” would be NEIGHBOR’S yard. It’s true. They have yards TOO. With other kids to play with your kids. And sometimes, they stay away for a reallllly long time and I am happy and quiet and enjoying my own backyard without said offspring. It’s fabulous.

  8. AMH says:

    I am on the fence about this one since I have experience with both… I think it depends on the ages and the city. I loved living in Baltimore with W. We had lots to do and loved living 2 mins from the water.. I felt very safe where… I was. I think as soon as things are not safe for them or you, you should move. Kids need their green space and a sense of secrurity.

    I think it is also a great opportunity for kids to live in the city til about 5. There is soooo much for them to soak up from the culture and arts. We now live in the super burbs and they love it but we have to drive a little bit to get to places. You also have to think about education… Most of the time they are great public schools in the burbs. In the city you need to pay big $$$ for a good school. I am sure you know that being a teacher yourself!

    Hope it helps and hopefully didn’t offend any folks!

  9. Tracey – No worries. Not judging the wine consumption, simply the choice. Chardonnay is so…..oaky. No likey.
    I need something that goes down smooth like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, so I can consume more than one glass of it, sooooo that I can still be nice (or at least not tearing heads off left and right) by 8 pm. ;)
    And OTHER PEOPLE’S YARDS?!?! How did I miss this point?!?! I can use the firepit by myself during the day for hotdogs and marshmallows and then use it to sit next to and act romantic at night with the hubby. WIN WIN.
    And I totally agree about city transportation in the winter. It is supposed to be EASIER than driving everywhere, so why does it feel so damn hard?

  10. AMH – Totally agree. And school is actually a big reason we are probably going to move. I have no desire to send my kids to private school. Even if we did have the money for it. And the process of testing, living in the right zone, etc in NYC is way overwhelming.

  11. ZumbaMommy says:

    SUBURBS!!!!!! Sorry to say… and not just because I live in the ‘Burbs’. I lived in 2 major cities for a total of 10 years and WOULD NEVER raise children there, sorry to say. I remember when I was in NYC, long before kids, and watched a child no more than 5 hailing a cab, crying, because it was rush hour, and he missed the bus. His Mom had already gone to work, Dad was on a business trip… .blah, blah, blah. I found that child a car and it has stayed with me since. He would be about 23 now. I would NOT want to walk the stairs with strollers and all the other ‘crap’ we have to carry. I would NOT want to worry about the parks I take my kids to. I would NOT want to concern myself with private schools/special education because you may not live in the correct PS district….

    We are VERY spoiled where we are. We have an acre of grass, a HUGE play yard, a pool, the BEACH and the city 20 miles away -we go at least 2 times a month. More in the summer. There are plenty of Children’s learning centers (more than I can count) right around us, and Hundreds upon Hundreds of Playgrounds….. A very special YMCA for tennis, swimming, camps, and all sports…. I could go on and on.

    So, I have to drive to the grocery store, but I’ve got so many to chose from: Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and your typical ones. The mall and Target and a Wal-Mart are a 5 minute drive which is HUGELY necessary for diapers, etc. I can be out and back in 20 minutes…. WITH 2 Kids.

    Car starters ROCK. Car is warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

    Of course, I’m VERY sure to piss people off with that, but it’s how I feel. A short time in the City with kids, ok. When their babies, fine. (A TON of extra work and lugging on the Mom’s part…. Which I also wouldn’t do. I’m not lazy, but I sweat constantly just lugging my kids in the burbs in 20 degree weather….) But school age, nope, wouldn’t do it.

  12. ZumbaMommy – Being opinionated is okay. I think a lot of us become very opinionated about certain issues once we have kids. City vs Suburb living isn’t my main ‘issue’, but I have mine, too…the ones that I will speak vocally about and probably piss some people off.

    Anyway, thank goodness you stopped to help that kid, because honestly, I am not sure anyone else would have. I just read a blog post from a fellow NYC mom who got sick and couldn’t stop throwing up and then passed out in a snow drift on the sidewalk downtown and NOBODY HELPED HER AT ALL. She was throwing up violently for 30 minutes and then passed out on the sidewalk for 10 minutes. Nobody even called 911. That totally went in my “Suburbs: Pros’ list. Maybe people are nosier in the burbs, but that isn’t usually life-threatening, the way total disregard for fellow human beings can be!

    Anyway, sidetracked.
    I totally want your yard.

  13. mholley says:

    We thought briefly about the suburbs when moving last year. In our case it would have meant spending more money to live in the suburbs but having access to better public schools. We were also into the idea of a safer neighborhood to raise Ella and just peace and quiet in general.

    We decided to stay in Philly for a few reasons:
    1. We would save money on housing thus giving us the option to send Ella to private school. Not sure if we will, but we wanted it as an option.
    2. Diversity – we looked at a few houses in the suburbs and I couldn’t deal with the lack of diversity. I wasn’t sure how I felt about being the only black family on the block, or in a five mile radius for that matter. I know there are suburbs that boast diversity but not so much around the Philly area.
    3. Our families are close by. We didn’t want to stray to far at this point.

    So now we have a modest sized house with a small yard which still manages to overwhelm me but allows for a blow up pool and play house (I’m inspired to get a fire pit now). It’s on a diverse block with friends and family close by. It’s working for us right now…I think alot of the time people picture city living as being in the thick of it all, but there are tons of residential neighborhoods in lots of cities that often offer the best of both worlds.

    I know living in a city like Philly is waaaaay different from living in NYC. We could definitely not afford to live in there and send Ella to private school or for that matter get a ground floor, 1000ft plus apt. in BK, or an apartment in Harlem with a doorman and elevator (haha). All things that I’m pretty sure we would need to live there comfortably.

  14. mholley – So happy you responded to this post. I was wondering where all my City Mamas were!

    I get the financial choice. The problem is that it is pretty much reversed here in NYC. We are paying way more now for an apartment in the city in a PS zone where I wouldn’t want to send our kids than we could pay for a HOUSE 30 minutes away from the city with a great school system. Crazy.

    I also totally understand the issue of diversity. That is actually very important to us, as well. In fact, if that wasn’t in the top three factors we look at when researching towns, we could have easily already found our ideal town by now. It IS hard to find an affordable town, near the city, with good public schools that is less than 85% white. I think we have finally found some options, though.

    And I am jealous that you have both families IN Philly. That is so amazing. OH, WAIT, we had BOTH families in Maryland……..and then we moved away. Guess that one is our own fault. :(

    An apartment in Harlem with a doorman and an elevator?! Say WHA?! Where ever could we find that? ;)

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