August 27 2016
City Living with Kids/Living in Brooklyn

Five Things to be Grateful for When You Live in a City

upside to living in city, new york city, gratefulLife in New York City can be really hard, especially for working families.  The indignities are rapid fire. I can only imagine it’s the same in any other large or expensive city.  There was a story in New York Magazine recently written by a woman who talks about her experience of New York, and why she finally moved to the suburbs:

“You choose difficulty. You choose trudging. You choose harsh winters and hot summers, no central air or central heat, no thermostat. You choose plastic bags digging creases into your wrists as you climb stairs with your four bags of groceries, meant to last three days at most. You choose compromise, choose expense, choose discomfort, in exchange for the best of everything, except quality of life.”

When you’re feeling broke, or the weather is crappy, or your boss is especially jerky, it’s easy to say to yourself, “What the hell am I doing here?”  I have days like this, when I wish I was from someplace else so that if I ever got too overwhelmed, I could just say, in my best Cartman, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”  That’s when I remind myself about the reasons I love New York City.  Because, I am home — something that this lady in NY Mag clearly did not feel.  Even though I have complaints, I choose to live here because it makes me happy.

Gratitude is a neat trick. Here are a few things that I am thankful for, including some of the less obvious joys of living in a city.

1. Forced Downsizing

We all talk the talk about minimalism, decluttering and simplifying.  But when you live apartment life, you have absolutely no choice.  And this is a good thing because getting rid of stuff is hard. Especially your children’s things.  Holding on to every book and piece of artwork is not adding to your quality of life. When you’re in a tight space, eventually reason takes precedence over sentimentality.  A lifetime of living this way has upsides, such as not having to leave your home in retirement, and being able to remain where your friends and memories are.

2. Summer Weekends & Holiday Weekends

New York City has a real get out of town on the weekend culture.  Thankfully, many of us have half day Fridays in the summer, to help us abscond.  It’s only fair.  We do without a lot, so getting out of town is our birth right.  But having the city to myself when everyone else is out of town is one of my most favorite things.

I used to stress about being in Brooklyn on a summer weekend, especially when I first had kids.  I felt like we had to be someplace, anyplace else.  But as life has become busier, I appreciate the serene beauty of being in town when everyone else is gone.  (I swear I am not only talking about parking!)

3. Stoop sales

Stoop sales are a lifesaver.  You can get rid of all your kids’ outgrown toys, clothes, books etc and make enough money for it to be worth standing outside for five hours.  I sell almost everything for a dollar, but enough people come and usually buy a bunch of things so that I always end up getting rid of a ton of stuff and making some extra cash.  Win, win.  What’s left, I leave outside, as so many people here do, and everything is gone by morning, its journey to the landfill happily diverted.

4. Forgot ginger?  Run to the corner!

It never fails.  My husband calls me up, says he’s at the store and do I need anything.  “Nope, all good!” I say.  And then the minute I start cooking the realization that I actually do need one or more things dawns on me.  This is a weekly occurrence.  But it’s ok because I can run 150 steps to the deli and get whatever I need.  Just like magic.  OK, so this is a pretty obvious benefit of city life.  But it is so central to my survival, I had to include it.

5. Live Music

Beirut at Radio City Music Hall, grateful for city life
Getting to see my favorite band at Radio City

Having kids means that a lot of the things you used to enjoy doing take a back seat.  Going out at night is one. Something as simple as going to the movies means hiring a babysitter and getting pizza for everyone.  And if you’re going to pay a sitter, you might as well go out to dinner yourself.  Next thing you know, it cost you $200 to go see an Avengers movie.

Seeing live music is something I really appreciate because I am pretty sure I would rarely, if ever, see any of my favorite bands perform if I moved to the suburbs.  Those smaller artists that play on a Thursday night and go on late… getting a sitter for that and then having to take an hour or more to get home afterward?  Not bloody likely.  Same goes for weeknight sports events.  Being close to major and minor venues makes it doable.

Transcience

Parking tickets, housing costs, space constraints, no backyard… I have complaints.  But I have found a way to peacefully coexist with these things.  However, not every issue can be talked away.  I’m not some kind of deranged Pollyanna!

There is one thing that gets me down.  As Brooklyn becomes more like Manhattan, the feeling of living in a real community is slowly degrading.  Rather than setting down roots, so many people are just passing through.  A lot of wealthy international professionals, taking their year or two in New York.  Lots of moving trucks make it feel more hotel-like than it used to.  This is driving up rents and resulting in our having to say tearful goodbyes to friends who tried to make a life here, but decided to leave because the math just did not work for them.   It is one indisputable bummer that I don’t have any real consolation for.

Nothing is ever perfect.  But that’s ok.  It doesn’t have to be.  Happiness is not the same as perfection.

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  • I lived in Brooklyn for a year and it was the best year of my life! NYC is so amazing, truly no city I have lived in since has compared. There is always something to do and I miss the little markets.

    • I appreciate that, Candy. It would be my dream to be able to have a cottage in the country where my children could run in the grass all day long. If that dream ever comes true I will surely write about my favorite things about rural life! The country is certainly easy to love and I do. I guess the point of my post is that city life can be hard, and even depressing. My hope is to inspire those poor city dwellers like myself who might be feeling down to cultivate their own happiness with gratitude and to remind them why they put up with so much.

      -Linda

  • I live in a rural area, about 7 miles from a city that has 80,000 people. I lived in Seattle for several years and don’t miss it. Yes those are advantages, but the fast pace of city life was just too much for me. I like the slower life. #TheBlogTribe

  • Hi there, great post! I was just visiting NYC at the end of July and had a fabulous time. I always thought I was going to be a city girl, I grew up in Buffalo, and am now a county mouse 🙂 I love hearing about how different city life is, so keep these posts coming please! 🙂

  • I love your attitude of gratitude! And I love reading about your stories of living in the city. I’ve never lived in a really large city, mostly rural areas, so it’s fascinating to me. I love that you have stoop sales! And the stores being so close you can just walk to them (how convenient!). That’s a foreign concept here. The closest store to my house is 2 miles away.

    • Stoop sales are my bread and butter! I do it twice a year and have a whole clientele that knows my posts from Craig’s List. It’s always a hysterical scene as people come ready to negotiate. They ask how much something is, I say a dollar and they’re like, “How about 50 cents?” It’s hilarious. But I have people who I remember from years past and it’s always an excuse to talk to neighbors I may not know so well. I’m getting ready for my fall stoop sale and will have to put some tips together. Of course, I wish I had more access to those great big yard sales in the country. There is always good furniture. Hard to move furniture in a place where people are walking home, lol. Anyway, thanks Amanda – you always have something kind to say.

      -Linda

  • I just visited NYC for the first time and had such an awesome time in the city. I wasn’t sure if I would love it, with it being such a large city and all, but it really is so beautiful and has so many different diverse pockets of neighborhoods. The food is amazing, obviously, too.

  • Such a wonderful post! I love the quote at the end how happiness is not the same as perfection. So true! And your point of view and gratitude seeps through the list and makes me miss Brooklyn! There are so many benefits and downsides to every place, and the most important part is being able to find the benefits to where you are at any moment, always. That’s the secret to happiness. And it’s clear that you’ve figured that out long ago. Many people could learn from your perspective. Although, I do agree it’s sad that the community element is slowly dissipating. It’s what I used to love about Brooklyn as well.

    1. Aleks F. 09:53am 05 February - 2017 - Reply

      Such a wonderful post! I love the quote at the end how happiness is not the same as perfection. So true! And your point of view and gratitude seeps through the list and makes me miss Brooklyn! There are so many benefits and downsides to every place, and the most important part is being able to find the benefits to where you are at any moment, always. That’s the secret to happiness. And it’s clear that you’ve figured that out long ago. Many people could learn from your perspective. Although, I do agree it’s sad that the community element is slowly dissipating. It’s what I used to love about Brooklyn as well.

    2. Alexis @FITnancials 08:35pm 05 September - 2016 - Reply

      I just visited NYC for the first time and had such an awesome time in the city. I wasn’t sure if I would love it, with it being such a large city and all, but it really is so beautiful and has so many different diverse pockets of neighborhoods. The food is amazing, obviously, too.

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:28am 06 September - 2016 - Reply

        Hi Alexis – well yes, food is pretty much the number one cause for happiness here! lol

        -Linda

    3. angie 03:05pm 04 September - 2016 - Reply

      they all sound like awesome ideas I love to visit the city and live in a small town but I now see many reasons why it would be a great place to live in the city
      come see us at http://shopannies.blogpspot.com

    4. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 10:35pm 30 August - 2016 - Reply

      I love your attitude of gratitude! And I love reading about your stories of living in the city. I’ve never lived in a really large city, mostly rural areas, so it’s fascinating to me. I love that you have stoop sales! And the stores being so close you can just walk to them (how convenient!). That’s a foreign concept here. The closest store to my house is 2 miles away.

      • Brooklyn Bread 11:44am 31 August - 2016 - Reply

        Stoop sales are my bread and butter! I do it twice a year and have a whole clientele that knows my posts from Craig’s List. It’s always a hysterical scene as people come ready to negotiate. They ask how much something is, I say a dollar and they’re like, “How about 50 cents?” It’s hilarious. But I have people who I remember from years past and it’s always an excuse to talk to neighbors I may not know so well. I’m getting ready for my fall stoop sale and will have to put some tips together. Of course, I wish I had more access to those great big yard sales in the country. There is always good furniture. Hard to move furniture in a place where people are walking home, lol. Anyway, thanks Amanda – you always have something kind to say.

        -Linda

    5. Katie 03:00pm 29 August - 2016 - Reply

      Hi there, great post! I was just visiting NYC at the end of July and had a fabulous time. I always thought I was going to be a city girl, I grew up in Buffalo, and am now a county mouse 🙂 I love hearing about how different city life is, so keep these posts coming please! 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 03:21pm 29 August - 2016 - Reply

        That’s really sweet of you, Katie – thanks so much for the kind words.

        -Linda

    6. Karen Grosz 08:56am 29 August - 2016 - Reply

      I live in a rural area, about 7 miles from a city that has 80,000 people. I lived in Seattle for several years and don’t miss it. Yes those are advantages, but the fast pace of city life was just too much for me. I like the slower life. #TheBlogTribe

    7. candy 08:53am 29 August - 2016 - Reply

      I don’t live in the city, I will be grateful for 5 things here in the country.

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:44pm 29 August - 2016 - Reply

        I appreciate that, Candy. It would be my dream to be able to have a cottage in the country where my children could run in the grass all day long. If that dream ever comes true I will surely write about my favorite things about rural life! The country is certainly easy to love and I do. I guess the point of my post is that city life can be hard, and even depressing. My hope is to inspire those poor city dwellers like myself who might be feeling down to cultivate their own happiness with gratitude and to remind them why they put up with so much.

        -Linda

    8. heidi 08:12am 29 August - 2016 - Reply

      I lived in Brooklyn for a year and it was the best year of my life! NYC is so amazing, truly no city I have lived in since has compared. There is always something to do and I miss the little markets.

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