When you live in an expensive city, everyone you know with small-ish kids agonizes every day about if and when they should retreat to the suburbs. It’s all any of my friends and I can talk about. Expensive housing, crowded schools, parking tickets, teeny tiny apartments, renting, no yard, wait lists for everything.
But we agonize because deep down, most of us LOVE the city, love it even more with kids who we know will grow up with that extra special sauce of sophistication and worldliness. I love seeing my kids play on our street with all the million other kids who live on the block. I love that they know their way around town (even at the tender age of 4). I love having a beer on my front stoop. I love, I mean really deeply love not having to drive or take a commuter train or bus to work.
But the expensive cities of the world can whisper mean and nasty things in your ear if you let them. Things such as “you don’t belong here, you non-investment banker, trust fund-less, non-international man (or woman) of business! You can never compete with neighbors who could buy and sell you 20 times over. You will spend your life feeling jealous and unsatisfied here. And you will never have wall paper.”
In NYC it seems like at least 50% of the people are 1% of 1%ers. Otherwise how is everyone paying all this money to live here? A part of me wants to find an easier life somewhere where I don’t have to compete so fiercely for every aspect of my comfort and survival.
But lately I’ve been finding that shifting perspective is a better way to live. Maybe the very simple answer to what could seem like an impossible situation. Many of the benefits of living in the city are available to all of us.
Beautiful pre-war architecture that is a daily gift for the eye balls… a speedy commute… incredible cultural institutions and parks… FOOD – whatever you want, and the ability to make friends with lots of different kinds of people. (Admittedly, most of whom share your enlightened progressive world view and love of salad).
I do love it where I live and hope to stay. A big house would be fun and a garden — dream of dreams! But those things come at a cost too and for me, it is a cost that may be too high. If you’re trying to make ends meet in an expensive city with children, I think don’t leave just because of money. There are ways.