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Where's Better for Raising Kids: City or Suburbs?

Aug 26, 2011 at 10:35 AM Chime in now

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Oh, hey! Guess what I did this past weekend? No, it wasn't beach-going or camping or any of the kind of summer adventures that you'd expect a mother of small children to engage in in late August. I was in the city. The city. New York. Which is a destination, of sorts, although it's pretty muggy there in August. But I wasn't there for a vacation. I was there to find a place to live.

You heard me. I was apartment hunting. In Manhattan. Which is emphatically not what you expect a mother of two small children to be doing in late summer. Or ever, really. Who moves their children to Manhattan? Isn't it supposed to work the other way? Wasn't that a story arc on Sex And The City at some point? One of the characters taking her baby and moving to Brooklyn? Families don't move to the city. Families move out of the city. Unless the family is my family, in which case one goes against the grain.

The conventional wisdom is that the suburbs or the countryside are best for raising children, especially small ones. They need room to run around, after all, and the family needs space in which to live. A yard, a garage, an eat-in kitchen, a family room... these are hard to come by in an urban environment unless you have a gajillion dollars to spend on housing. We don't have a gajillion dollars. We're just going to do without.

Which will be an interesting experiment, because we're leaving an adorable little exurban village in which we do have a yard and an eat-in kitchen. (No garage and no family room; this - I tell my husband - will help with the transition.) We moved here just before Jasper was born because we did believe that we'd have an easier time raising children outside the city, and that space and quiet streets and underpopulated sidewalks would make a difference - a positive difference - in raising a family. So it's going to be a bit of a shock.

But while we're not leaving here because we think that the city will be better for our kids - we're leaving because I'm taking a job in New York - we do think that, however shocking it's going to be, it's also going to be pretty awesome. Sure, we won't have a yard, but we'll have Central Park. We won't have a family room, but we'll have the Museum of Natural History (can you tell that we focused our apartment hunt on the Upper West Side?) We'll have a billion awesome restaurants and a million wonderful little (and big) parks and no end of things to do. The kids are going to love it. We're all going to love it.

Because end of the day, it's not where you raise your kids that matters: it's how you raise your kids. And we're raising ours in the spirit of fun and adventure and learning. That, more than extra square footage or lawn space, is what is going to make all the difference.

Do you live in the city or country and would you consider a move to the opposite? Chime in below!

More from Her Bad Mother:
What I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Mom
Why Co-Sleeping Isn’t for Cold-Hearted Baby-Shunning Fools
Is Hired Help the Modern Mom’s Dirty Secret?


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