How one NYC family went from “Never Going to Go” to “Have to Go—NOW!”
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Moving to the Suburbs, in a hurry!
Alison Sherwin was your typical NYC mom. With an apartment on the Upper East Side, an energetic toddler and baby #2 on the way, Alison and her growing brood were savoring city living—until they weren’t. While she’d always loved the hustle and bustle, with baby in tow—and another coming soon—her day-to-day got increasingly tougher to navigate, and that left her longing for a LOT more space and an easier day-to-day. Despite their initial hesitations and serious reservations, Alison and her husband started thinking suburbia. The rest is history…
My husband and I bought our apartment on the Upper East Side in 2009, right before we got married. It was a two-bedroom apartment and at the time, I had delusions of fitting two children in the second bedroom. Flash forward to 2013, with a one-year old daughter and discussions of having a second child, I came to the realization that we could not fit two cribs in said bedroom (my husband’s joking suggestion of bunk-cribs notwithstanding).
As I struggled to get on and off the subway with my toddler and an umbrella stroller, the city had quickly become difficult to navigate. Layer in a pregnancy and, before long, I couldn’t carry my daughter and the stroller and all of the gear down the stairs and to the platform. The end result? Months essentially confined to the 10-block radius surrounding our apartment—not ideal. And, with so much now off limits, living in the city didn’t have the same appeal—what good are the amazing activities and events if I couldn’t get to any of them?
Even going outside to play had become a fiasco. I needed to pack the diaper bag, the stroller and walk several avenues to the park. Once there, I had to juggle keeping an eye on that bag—with my wallet in it—and my energetic toddler. And the winter? She never got to play outside in the snow—how could she? There was no steering the stroller through a foot of snow and ice to the park. Even if I had, she might have lasted 10 minutes—then it was back home again, across icy avenue after icy avenue. I started to get that pang of jealousy every time a Facebook friend posted a picture of their kids zipping around the backyard, building a snowman on the porch or swinging back and forth on their very own swing-set. I also envied their weekly trips to the grocery store—really! In the city I could only purchase what fit securely in the bottom of the stroller—after, of course, spending an hour navigating the tiny store aisles with both a stroller and a cart. Not so in the suburbs…
But the decision still wasn’t so cut and dry. Manhattan had its perks, even through this new two-baby lens. What was still keeping us here? In short, (1) we wanted to keep my husband’s commute to a minimum so he could spend as much time as possible with our daughter (and daughter-to-be) and (2) we both wanted to avoid the responsibilities and upkeep of a home.
That said, we knew we couldn’t afford a three-bedroom apartment but our two-bedroom was being taken over by countless toddler things—I mean, everyone stores their stroller next to the kitchen table, and the car seat behind the sofa…right? And maneuvering that car seat? We didn’t own a car in the city so were dependent on family members to pick us up (or snagging a last-minute rental car) anytime the need arose—and that always necessitated a quick curbside car seat install…while parked illegally…
The writing was on the wall—life in the city had, simply, become too hard, too expensive, too cluttered and too stressful.
Despite staring directly at the inevitable—a move to suburbia—neither my husband nor I dove right in. We weren’t excited about the responsibilities that came with home ownership, and an increased commute didn’t sit well with either of us. That said, we desperately needed the space and I needed to make our day-to-day adventures a little bit easier for my sake, my daughter’s sake and, of course, her sibling-to-be’s sake. Raising kids is hard enough without the additional stresses the city added.
It was time to go. Now looking back, I’m very glad we did…
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