The bright lights of the big noisy city are so exciting when you first move to New York City, the endless bars, restaurants, museums, theatre and shopping, shopping! As a young professional, the city ticks all the boxes and is a great place to have so much fun.
When you move to NYC with a family or if you already live in the city and then start a family, you still have access to all the city has to offer, but we all ask ourselves the question....should we move to the suburbs??
New York City has so many great children’s facilities and is surprisingly kid friendly but the lack of space and the ease of getting around town with 1, 2 or 3 kids, strollers, toys, bikes, scooters etc can all become a bit of a hassle.
We have been living in New York city for 8 years with 2 children and we have seriously considered the move to Westchester, Connecticut or New Jersey many times and have taken many ‘Sunday drives’ to different suburbs to get a feel for different areas and check out the local facilities. Ultimately we decided to stay in the city but we do often feel the pull towards a house with a backyard and basement and to have a car.
Of course there are pro’s and cons to both the city and the suburbs and obviously the decision will come down to what really fits your family lifestyle.
Things to consider before making the move to the ‘burbs’
1. Commute - what is the travel time back into the city? Do you need to commute everyday, how often do trains/bus/ ferry run ? What is the cost to commute?
Also, if you will drive to the train station can you get a car park at the station (most suburbs in Westchester have a waitlist for car spaces) also how much will it cost to park your car at the station.
2. Car - you will need to buy ( or lease) a car! (and learn to drive on the other side of the road and learn to drive in the snow!!) The new found freedom would be lovely, no more dirty crowded subways....but you also have a new expense.
3. School districts - it’s well known that Westchester and parts of NJ have some of the best schools in the country. You will need to do your research as there are usually more than 1 public school in any given suburb. The great schools website grades and reviews all schools.
4. New big house - The biggest drawcard to the suburbs is the extra amount of space! Compared to city living and small apartments, suburban residents can typically get more bang for their buck when it comes to purchasing or renting a home. Remember you need to furnish your new big home and pay to keep the house in shape - gardening, house maintenance , cleaning, property tax expense etc
5. Realtor - once you pick your suburb you should find a local realtor who knows the area ‘inside out’ Whether you’re renting or buying they should be able to introduce you to neighborhoods that meet your budget and lifestyle needs. Ideally they should live in the area and can give you an honest assessment. We found most of the agents we met with were women who had raised a family in the area and were full of helpful tips.
One of my closest friends in NYC Tash Rutherford (and a fabulous Aussie mum) made the big move from city living to the 'burbs'. Here is her story...
Where are you from in Australia & how long have you been here in NYC?
I grew up in various small country towns in Western Australia. As most Aussies do at some point, I had the travel bug in my 20’s and decided to come over and complete a masters degree in New York.
I was supposed to go home at the end of my degree however met my husband in my final year. So, I decided to stay for a year to see how things went and ended up working on an E-3 visa.
We have now been married 9 years, have two boys ages 7 and 4.5 years and I’ve been in the US almost 15 years. Where did the time go!
Where did you move and why?
We spent 13 years in NYC so it was a big decision to move to the suburbs! We’ve been living in Westchester NY (originally Chappaqua and now Bedford NY) since September 2016 and really love it. Great schools, more space indoors and out and access to more activities for our kids were the deciding factors.
My husband is from Rhode Island so neither of us really had a clue about which suburb to choose! My husband has colleagues who live in NJ, Greenwich CT and Westchester so we started touring houses and spending time on the weekends in different towns to get a feel for each place. A priority for us was outdoor space and a commute under an hour into NYC. We ended up renting in Chappaqua NY – 50 mins on the train to Grand Central. After 6 months we realized that we really loved Bedford NY (one town over) and moved. I highly recommend renting first!
I love where we live for many reasons! We live on 4 acres and I feel so much more relaxed than I did in the city. My boys are in a fantastic school and have access to so many activities that they wouldn’t have in the NYC. We ski every weekend (closest ski resort is a 30 min drive) and have access to various pools in the summer. Also, its only a 35 minute drive to the nearest beach. I really enjoy driving again – it’s so much easier to get around, buy groceries etc. I grew up riding horses in Australia so it’s been great to get back into that again. Lots of Aussies out here too (funny how we find each other!) and we have regular meet ups.
Did you make the right decision to move to the suburbs?
I do miss the city – particularly my lovely Aussie friends - but it’s easy to jump on the train and come in when the kids are at school or for a night out. At this point in time, I feel like we made the right decision for our family and wouldn’t move back to Manhattan.