Monday, October 3, 2011

Welcome to Suburbia

Dreamworks film, Over the Hedge
I made the decision to move to the 'burbs almost two years ago. I was born in a major city on the east coast and have spent most of my teenage and adult years in Chicago. There is nothing like living in a major metropolitan area. Every block brings distinct sounds, smells and sights to stimulate your senses.
Somehow that all changed when I had my son.  It seems like the place where I grew up, which was fine for me and my family, was no longer acceptable for my son.

In all seriousness, I moved to the suburbs because I could no longer afford to live in the city. For starters, my rent, gas and insurance are cheaper. That's a big plus when you are living on one income. And I do think there are aspects of my new neighborhood that are better than where I lived in the city. There's a lot more green space, the library is better and I get to see deer families walking down the street on my way to work.  In recent months I have begun to wonder if I'm shortchanging my son by raising him in the 'burbs. Every time we get on the expressway and head downtown, he points at the skyline and shouts "Look Mom, it's New York city!". Clearly I need to take him downtown more.

Obviously this was a conscious choice on my part about where I wanted to live and raise my son. Let me make it clear that I do not look down upon city families. Everyone has to do what is right for them. I think at first it was about fear and running away from what I thought was a bad situation to raise my child. As I reflect I realize that it was a lot more than that. Financially this was a good move and came with some additional community perks. But I also have to be intentional about making sure my son is sheltered from city life. I think that would be just as bad...


  1. I enjoy the suburbs here. The safety for me outweighs my want for wanting to live directly in the mist of everything uptown. I like that my kids actually have a yard to run in and that the drivers in our neighborhood know to look out for the kids because they're always riding their bikes or playing. Plus, everyone knows everyone but minds their own business and looks out for you all at the same time.

    However, I try to get out and take the kids into the thick of it all at least twice a week so that if we ever decided to leave the burbs they would be used to being directly in the city too.

  2. When we first moved to Chicago (from my home state of KS), we lived in the city for about a year and a half. I wanted to stay in the city, but my husband (who was raised in the suburbs near where we currently live) wouldn't hear of it.

    I've found advantages and disadvantages to suburban life.

    ~ Similar to how I was brought up (comfortable)
    ~ More big, green spaces
    ~ Better access to libraries, grocery stores, gas stations
    ~ Mostly great public schools

    ~ For the most part, need a car
    ~ Limited public transportation
    ~ Less ethnic/economic diversity . . . or . . . you don't as easily come across/interact with people different than you, the way you do in the city
    ~ Unique city attractions, city vibe, architecture, etc

    We just make a point to not treat the city as a different world, a dangerous place or someplace hard to get to. It can take 45 minutes to get somewhere in the city with all the traffic lights . . . and it can take 45 minutes to get from our house to the city. I work in the city 5 days a week but my husband goes to church in the city, his family is mostly in the city, most of my friends (co-workers) are in the city. We go there all the time, and with the kids, and we take trains, buses . . . we walk. We're purposefully raising our kids to understand both places. Even so, the kids still get excited to see downtown.

    Shoot, I do too!

  3. Ha! That is awesome... when we moved to our current neighborhood I told everyone it's like the movie "Over the hedge” The neighborhood has kinda lived up to it, I pay an association fee for who knows what? However, I like my little neighborhood-- I think these people got my back. I am lucky enough to call some of my neighbors FRIENDS. At first I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb here, but it is getting better.
    My husband and I have talked about moving to Chicago, but we then remember why we moved here. However the discussion comes up often especially when we go visit the city. I am not sure if the city life works for a family of five, a pug, and a fish... I'd love to think so. Nonetheless, I know cost of living is crazy there and I love the school district my kids are attending.
    It's tough... guess I will just have to do with visits to the city for now-- considering selling my house would be a challenge all in its self.

  4. Living in L.A., the city can be a bit much. I would guess the same is true of Chicago. I prefer the suburbs for the same reasons as YUMMommy. It's not so hectic and the hustle and bustle isn't a factor. I love the city too thought. I really like the option of going to the city when we want and coming back home to unwind. I was all about city living too until I my name changed to Mommy!

  5. I struggled with the same thing. I lived in the city for a while then got tired of the crime, etc so I moved to the suburbs RIGHT outside the city... Now I have more green space, less crime and a sense of security!

  6. I'm smiling at your post ... my mother was born and raised in Brooklyn ... but raised me in the NJ suburbs. When I got to be a teen, every once in a while, I would do something and my mother would roll her eyes and scream, THIS is what I get for raising a kid in the suburbs ;)~~

  7. NY!!! That is tooo funny. No you made the right decision for you guys. And right, just visit downtown more often. All good.

  8. Think about this too. Trips to the city a must for me. I was raised in suburbia and have spent a few years in the city. I've come to admit I like the idea of the city more than the reality of city living. I am not on a sitcom( why do they have to have such ridiculously great apartments?) Im a single mom/ teacher...not so glamorous :)
    Love green space, knowing all my neighbors, community events and and what u get for the $.
    Burbs aren't so bad:)


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