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the 'burbs battle

If you live in NYC long enough, it's bound to happen. Eventually, you will lose a friend to the suburbs.

And it might really surprise you. It might be the friend that you never suspected; the one who stayed out with you till all hours of the night (in your, er, younger days), the friend who should have been a model, the friend who by befriending you made you feel "cool" simply by being in her presence. A true friend who turned into an amazing mother and did it with style and grace and effortlessness.

Enjoying my friend's lovely backyard in Westchester

I've lived in the city for 13 years, and so far NYC is still winning, but the 'burbs are closing in on me in an uncomfortable battle for my friends, with the winner receiving a lawn mower and a swing set in the backyard.

It's not that I don't understand. Obviously, I know by now that when children come along, life changes in many, MANY ways. The friends who have taken the deep plunge into the suburbia pool have been seduced by more space, a yard, better schools, more space, close proximity to Target, more space. Did I mention more space? And while I certainly can't blame them, it does makes you stop and think.


In my quiet moments (of which there are about 2 per day), I do sometimes wonder... what are we doing here anyway? Is there, in fact, a world outside NYC? Seems hard to imagine, though visiting their homes with all that square footage makes me "get it" a little more.

While I still feel as though we are here for the long haul, and that NYC is a fantastic place to raise little citizens of the world, I would say for the first time that I am open to the possibility of life outside NYC. Not the 'burbs, necessarily. The commute would kill Husband and all that extra space wouldn't be worth it if were just me and the kiddies.

Starting over somewhere completely fresh and new has its appealing qualities, though. And I suppose the allure of the suburbs was that next step for my friends. If and when we take that same plunge remains to be seen... but for now, I will enjoy hopping on the train for visits to a faraway land known as Suburbia. And inevitably, in that quiet moment or two on the train, I will think about what it would be like to have a lawn mower and a swing set.


mommytojenna said...

I hear ya! We have a good balance by living in queens with a subway down the block and the commute manageable. And I don't feel like a single mom! We're about to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a small house but we love the city life and wouldn't give it up for a swing set!

Monica said...

I too spend so much time thinking the same thing. I've been in NYC for around the same amount of time as you and have seen so many move to SPACE and a swingset and sandbox for the kiddos. We are planning a big move within the next year (it looks like it is pushed off for now!) and I am rejoicing. Although storage and closets would give us peace of mind - NYC is such an incredible place to raise little citizens of the world. I'm going to enjoy every bit of it while we are still here. xx

Brianne said...

Oh this post just hit home for me! A really dear mommy friend of mine is leaving the city for the burbs in just two weeks! And to Westchester! It's R's best friend and now he is asking to move as well. We keep talking about it (and have been for 5 yrs) but we haven't made the move yet!

kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS said...

We lived in Philly for a few years and then had our two girls so quickly (15 months apart) while we were there. Because life with kids was so hectic then, we chose to move into the suburbs of PA to have a more horizontal living space... and yard. It's been an absolutely fantastic change and seeing the girls run around the yard safely has been amazing... .but of course I miss the city and raising my babies there.

Just make it a point to get out and visit those friends in the burbs or still in the city and you'll get your fix. We always do!

Tiffany C said...

This year especially, I've though the same thing. I love my neighborhood but hate that I live in a small space and my boys have not place to run. AND I would love a dog for them. My neighbors just told me they are moving to Texas. They are paying $700 less for two more bedrooms, a yard and a awesome school district.... decisions decisions.

Kate said...

Ohhh, I totally get the battle between the 'burbs and the city. For me, my city wins every time (so far!), but I've lost plenty of friends to the suburbs, and I miss the days that all my friends lived closer! Love this post!

ellen said...

Thanks for your thoughts! I don't think much can beat the city life, but I like that you have a balance. That's what it's all about!

ellen said...

Sigh... another one lost to the 'burbs! So, have you narrowed down the area yet? Totally get it, though. For me it's a little weekend house somewhere... we'll see if that happens one day.

ellen said...

Agh! Where do you think it'll be... out to NJ near the in-laws?! Yes, another reason to enjoy every minute and live in the present, right?! NJ can wait a little longer. :)

ellen said...

They're dropping like flies, Brianne! You inspire me with 3 kiddies in the city, so y'all can't go anywhere yet. :)

ellen said...

Great thoughts and perspective, Kim! Thanks so much. Chappequa is a nice place to visit. :) enjoy that back yard!

PhotoStory Collections said...

This is why Brooklyn always wins for me. I can get to the hustle and bustle of NYC but I can also get away from the madness and home to a neighborhood, with a yard, and space. Although all the Manhattanites are migrating over the bridge and sending the costs up it's still feels like HOME. I couldn't do suburbia, I'm a city girl and that just too quiet for comfort

Sonja said...

Definitely a tough choice to make. In my opinion, stay where ever you need to be to keep hubby's work close by, 'cuz family time together beats all else.

M said...

The suburbs are not all that great either. My husband and I left Boston after we found out we were pregnant with our first.


We've been stuck in suburban hell for almost 7 years now. We are now car dependent and bored out of our skulls. Oh, and these wonderful suburban public schools? Our district is being redrawn for overcrowding, and it's also rated a 3. My husband's commute into Manhattan is over 2 hours. He never sees the kids. If you want a house in the 'burbs that's closer to the city, you are paying a lot more money and astronomical taxes on said property. Then come the constant and costly house repairs (believe me, if you've never owned a home you have NO IDEA)that take up your whole weekend. Then comes money and time for the commute and gas money for your gas guzzler and then the city seems cheaper and the more obvious choice. As someone who has lived in both city and suburbs, the city wins hands down.

This is why my husband and three children are doing the reverse and running back to the city as soon as we're able to. And this move cannot come fast enough!

Good luck on whatever you decide.

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