In my early twenties, I decided that living downtown in a big city was on my bucket list, and with less than a two-week notice told my boyfriend (now husband) I made up my mind and we were moving. We were too young to live out in the boonies and not be a part of the hustle and bustle, and I knew that later in life we would be so glad to be able to look back and say we did this. He agreed (not that he really had a choice because I was DETERMINED), so on my lunch break I picked out a place around the corner from my work and off we went just like that!
The new place was in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, featured a bay window from which I could see the Space Needle peeking out over the tops of buildings, and was in walking distance from one of the best brunch spots in the city (Toulouse Petit). I had a walk-in closet that was big enough to fit all my shoes, and despite its modesty it made me feel like I was freaking Carrie Bradshaw… I was IN LOVE with this little place! We must have gone on a month-long bender of trying a new restaurant every night and just had an absolute BLAST learning all the hot spots, finding new hidden view parks, hopping in an Uber for a quick 5 minute ride to that evening’s local sporting event. Living in the city was everything I had dreamed it would be and more!
Fast forward 6 years, still living in the city and loving it, I find out that I am pregnant! I called my husband to tell him the news and all he said was “WOW” for about twenty minutes straight. Don’t get me wrong, we were incredibly excited, but also SUPER not expecting this! Once he was finally saying words again, I asked him what we were going to do about our living situation. We lived on the third floor of a place that didn’t have an elevator. Our washer and dryer were coin operated in the basement. We didn’t have a dishwasher. There wasn’t a single tenant living there with a kid and I could now see why – it would be a nightmare! To add to the now less-than ideal living situation, I started shopping around for daycare and was basically told I should have got on a waitlist a year ago. Um, hello guys…. of course I didn’t know I was going to have a kid years ago! It was so incredibly overwhelming and at the end of it, we decided that maybe this is why people move to the suburbs and maybe it was time for us to as well. We realized we were basically turning into a live version of the State Farm “Never” Commercial.
By the time we moved out of the city I was SO pregnant that I just basically hibernated every day after work, so the transition didn’t hit me right away. It was more after having baby, getting her on a sleep schedule and returning to the normalcy of life that I really started to miss it downtown. I still miss it to this day, but with the median home price in our favorite neighborhood in Seattle being above $800,000, it just isn’t feasible for us. So, here are some tips of things that we have stayed true to in our new suburb life that have helped me enjoy our new place and lifestyle without missing the city too terribly all the time.
- Rent for your first year in the ‘burbs before buying a place. After a year of life in the suburbs with a kid there were a lot of things we realized that we wanted that didn’t know before, because it had been so long since we were outside of city life! We decided we definitely needed a yard and two-car garage, and also changed our minds on the new neighborhood we wanted to be in. If we had bought right from the get-go, we likely wouldn’t have thought of those things and regretted our decision.
- Don’t go too far out into the sticks. If you really enjoyed walking to Starbucks or to a local deli for lunch, try to remain in a somewhat urban area where you can still do this so you don’t feel too cooped up. We settled on a place near a town center that had a few shops and a gourmet grocery store, and it makes me quite happy to be able to push a stroller up the street and get a good macchiato.
- Continue to hit up your favorite spots in the city for date nights. If you love being a part of city life, you don’t have to quit it just because you don’t live downtown anymore. Though it may sound appealing to not drive that far, pay for parking, etc. etc., you are not going to get your fix by doing date night at the local Applebee’s (inside joke between my friends and I) because let’s face it; it’s not posh! Getting your occasional city fix will help appease your jitters and make you feel like yourself.
- GO ON DATE NIGHTS! It literally gives me anxiety when people tell me their kid is about to turn two and they have yet to leave baby with a sitter for a night on the town. Don’t do that to yourself people! Parenting is hard work and you need a break. My husband and I make a goal of doing a date night once a month and it truly keeps me sane.
- Involve your kids in city life. Just because your family doesn’t live in the city doesn’t mean your family can’t go to the city frequently. Though we live 15 miles outside of Seattle, I wholly intend to raise my daughter thinking she is a “Seattleite”. On your days off, head into town to catch a game as a family, treat them to lunch, go walk the market, check out the aquarium… big cities invest so much money in tourism and family activities so you might as well take advantage of it! Plus, culturally it is a huge bonus to them to be exposed to all the great things your city has to offer.